Brokers See Real Estate Market Turning Corner

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By: James Kinsella
Published: 12/28/12

In coming years, people may well remember 2012 as the year that the real estate market began to recover in the town of Barnstable, with prices stabilizing and sales increasing.

“Most definitely, we’ve gone by the bottom,” said Ronald J. Mycock, the owner of Mycock Real Estate in Cotuit, speaking of the market slump that arrived as part of recession in 2008.

Using Marstons Mills as an example, Mr. Mycock said the Cape Cod & Islands Multiple Listing Service recorded 82 sales in Marstons Mills in 2012, compared with 67 in 2011.

The veteran real estate broker also said that the inventory of properties on the market has been coming down.

Again using Marstons Mills as an example, Mr. Mycock said the Cape Cod service at present lists 31 properties for sale but not under contract in that village, compared with about 90 a year ago.

A year ago, Mr. Mycock said, properties were available in the Cotuit area for less than $200,000.

“They’re just not there anymore,” he said.

Adrienne G. Siegel, principal owner of Strawberry Hill Real Estate in Hyannis, said 2012 was a stronger year in the local real estate market than 2011.

And signs are pointing to a strong 2013, Ms. Siegel said.

Although December usually is a quiet month on the Cape for real estate, Ms. Siegel said she and her husband, Peter S. Martin, placed six properties under contract in the first three weeks of the month.

Ms. Siegel said demand is strong for properties priced under $300,000, as well as for condominiums.

Mr. Mycock is observing a similar trend in the Cotuit area, where demand has been strong in that market’s lower end, which he said consists of properties priced at $500,000 and under.

He anticipates the trend will continue next year: “The lower end will continue to move, while the upper end will be slow.”

But Wissy Wendt, president of Robert Paul Properties, said that firm has seen its sales increase in the luxury market, which she defined as the top 10 percent in listing prices.

For the market served by the firm, which includes Cape Cod and the south coast of Massachusetts, Ms. Wendt said the top 10 percent consists of properties selling for $2 million and higher.

In 2011, she said, the firm did $203 million in sales.

For 2012, the firm set a goal of $250 million in sales, but ended up bringing in $360 million.

“A significant amount of that was high-end,” Ms. Wendt said.

Of the firm’s six offices, two are in the town of Barnstable, with one in Osterville and another in Barnstable Village.

Ms. Wendt said prices have stabilized in the market.

With the fear disappearing of continuing price declines, she said, pent-up demand is coming into the market.

Buyers of luxury and waterfront properties also have been heeding advice to put money into material assets and to make a move before potential changes in federal tax laws, she said.

In a 15-day period in December, Ms. Wendt said, the firm placed five properties with prices of more than $1 million under contract.

All were scheduled for sale by the end of the year on Monday.

Ms. Wendt said Robert Paul Properties is “very bullish” on 2013.

Brokers further report a revival in the commercial sector of the real estate market.

“It’s starting to pick up,” said Eugene Burman, a real estate broker at Carey Commercial in Hyannis.

“The people who have the money are starting to make offers,” Mr. Burman said. “The growth has been steady. 2013 will be a fabulous year.”

Chuck Carey, principal of the firm, said, “There definitely has been a pickup. Two months ago, it was like a switch had been thrown.”

Mr. Carey said the commercial market has been busier than some buyers have believed.

On the other hand, he said, market characteristics have been erratic.

He said some owners have been dying to sell, but have not been able to attract buyers.

Yet a commercial property in Hyannis recently sold for $1.6 million despite the lack of a tenant.

That property, which previously served as an office for Wells Fargo and the now-defunct Sentry Federal Savings Bank, abuts the West End Rotary at 765 Main Street in Hyannis.

When the right commercial property presents itself, Mr. Carey said, potential buyers move quickly to secure a deal.

The Cape Cod real estate market as a whole has been showing more strength than last year, according to John F. Meade, register of deeds for Barnstable County.

In the first 11 months of 2012, Mr. Meade reported earlier this month, the volume of real estate sales on the Cape has increased 22 percent to 6,262 compared to the same period in 2011.

In the first 11 months of 2012, the register reported, the median sales price on the Cape has risen 3.46 percent to $299,000.

He also reported that the total volume of sales has risen 28 percent to $2.69 billion.

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