NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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February 22, 2012

Newburyport's real estate market showing steady rebound

We have all heard that real estate is local. This couldn't be truer with the last few years of the national housing crisis. National media have been constant about how far the mortgage and housing crisis has affected every part of the economy. For the most part, their message is with a very broad stroke with national statistics and trends to satisfy a large audience (sometimes highlighting Las Vegas, Florida or Detroit to exaggerate the point). I am not belittling the crisis, but how is Newburyport doing?

An interesting reference point ... The first residential property to ever break the $1 million mark in Newburyport was 51 High St. for $1,125,000 back in January 2001. It had started out at $1.4 million and took 194 days to sell. That same property with only some minor cosmetic changes sold for $1,650,000 in January 2012. This time, it was only on the market for 35 days, a nice 46 percent return on investment.

In that same time period of 11 years, there have been 75 residential transactions that have closed for over $1 million; 14 that had multiple transactions (sold twice), with nine of the 14 actually losing money (one as much as 19 percent). So, even the high end is not immune to the housing downfall. Timing is everything.

Generally speaking, Newburyport saw the peak in sales price in 2005, as did the rest of the country and state. But what we have experienced is not nearly as much of a drop in values, and, actually, they now are very close to our 2004 prices. Since 2004, the state has seen seven consecutive years in declining sales volume. The year 2011 was 45 percent off its 2004 high, whereas Newburyport was off 37 percent from its high; and we hit the bottom in 2009, both in number of sales and median price (the local condo market fared slightly better until last year, when the bottom dropped).

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