Where Super High Home Values Are Most Abundant in Massachusetts

David Bates / February 27, 2012-12:28 pm

Chilmark, a town on Martha’s Vineyard with a year round population of 843, has been reported to have the highest average property value of any town or city in Massachusetts. This is just one of the signs that home values in Massachusetts’ best second-home markets can often completely eclipse the home values in Boston and its best suburbs.

Of the 1,064 single family homes listed in MLS public record in Chilmark, nearly two-thirds are assessed at a value of over $1 million. But Chilmark isn’t the only island community where super high home values are super abundant. Consider this, while an analysis I did of MLS public records shows upscale Wellesley has 50 single family homes assessed at a value of over $4 million,  Nantucket has 241. In fact, if you include the zoning code “Residential –Multiple Buildings” zoning—which is pretty much single family homes with a guest house or two — Nantucket has at least 580 homes whose assessed value is over $4 million.

I also searched MLS public records for homes with an assessed value of over $8 million, and found only 4 in Boston and 16 in the wealthy suburb of Weston. Yet, Edgartown, one of the Vineyard’s chief tourist destinations, has over 100 (includes “Residential-Multiple Buildings”) residences with assessed values over $8 million.

What makes homes on these islands so valuable? One of the assessors I talked to referred to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Buy land, they’re not making it any more.” I guess the value of land means more when you have an ocean for a front yard. That’s apparently why land on islands has a higher percentage of a property’s assessed value compared to properties on the mainland. The different assessor’s value bias is easily seen when comparing a land-locked

55 Hulbert Ave, Nantucket

property to ocean front. For example, 55 Hulbert Ave, Nantucket has an assessed value of $11,824,000 and according to its assessment, the 16,326 square foot lot’s value of $10,089,000 comprises about 85% of the total value. Comparatively, 144 Edmunds,Wellesley has an assessed value of $9,792,000 but assessors only attribute its .98 acre as accounting for about 7% of the total value.

I asked Bernadette Maglione, a friend of mine, as well as a realtor who may sell 40 homes in Nantucket this year, what accounts for the Island’s incredible values. She touched on the scarcity of land, the beauty of the island, and the high quality of construction.