Marblehead’s Upper End – was 2013 the bottom?

Because of both the small number of sales and the fact that each house can be very different – ranging from tear down to immaculately restored – it is hard to produce reliable data on the top end – which I define for this article as $2 million plus.

But I can try.

I have looked at sales (including for 2014 pending sales) and compared them with the number of houses available for sale on July 18 each year:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Here is a chart showing the totals by year:

2014 includes pending sales Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

2014 includes pending sales
Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

What this shows is that supply was pretty steady between 2009 and 2012, jumped sharply in 2o13, and has now returned closer to prior levels.

At the same time, sales – including pending sales, where an offer has been accepted – have increased and may well set a record this year, as is also the case with houses in the $1-2 million range. (Click here to read my report on activity in that price range.)

This is encouraging, but does not tell us in itself what has happened to prices at the top end, with many people believing that the top end has reset downwards in the last couple of years.

Since there are so few sales and the properties so varied I do not consider median prices to be a relevant statistic. What I have done is look at Prices per Square Foot (PSF).  Because of the small numbers involved I have used average rather than median. Now again, the risk here is that any year may see – and probably does – different types of properties sold from another year, but I am looking to see if there is any trend.

Here’s what I have come up with;

Average PSF Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Average PSF
Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

A few comments. In every year except 2009 the PSF for properties over $3 million was higher than for those in the $2-3 million range. This would seem to make sense as for the most part houses over $3 million are on the water and waterfront land is valued more highly than non-waterfront.

The PSF in 2013 was either the lowest or within a few dollars of the lowest over the time period. And 2013 saw the biggest differential between the number of houses for sale and the number sold.

In 2013, 3 of the 4 sales took place in December. This means there have been 7 completed sales in the last 8 months, with a further 4 pending.

At various times over the last year I have wondered why activity at the top end in Marblehead was lagging elsewhere, closer to Boston, and speculated that it might be a timing issue, with activity spreading out like the rippling effect of a stone on water.

The above data – coupled with record sales in the $1-2 million range – suggests that the ripple is now reaching Marblehead and that the top end in Marblehead did indeed bottom in 2013.

If you  – or somebody you know – are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 617.834.8205 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark licensed to Sotheby’s International Realty

Affiliates LLC.  Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated