A pair of hefty private property sales in Edgartown boosted revenues at the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank to a new record this week.
Two properties were sold in separate sales for a total of $20.75 million. One was a 2.6-acre parcel with a house off Gaines Way in Edgartown that sold for $9 million. The other was a 4.3-acre parcel with a house in Cow Bay that sold for $11.75 million. The Gaines Way property was sold by Malcolm Walsh to Gaines Way Ltd. The Cow Bay property was sold by Paul B. Polley to Daniel S. O'Connell. The Cow Bay property is near the junction of upper and lower Trapps Pond.
"It's hard to say whether it's anomalous or a trend," said land bank executive director James Lengyel. "But this week's collection of revenue is the highest the land bank has had since its inception," he added.
Total revenues at the land bank this week were just over $510,000. Year-to-date revenues topped $554,000, surpassing some $550,000 in revenues last year for the same period. Last year was a record-breaking year for the land bank.
Created by an act of the legislature in 1988, the land bank collects a two per cent transfer fee on most real estate transactions. Money collected from the fees is used to buy public conservation land on the Vineyard.
Last week marked another real estate record when an 81-acre piece of land that was formerly part of Pohogonot Farm in Edgartown was sold for $15.5 million.
"There is something about Edgartown," quipped Mr. Lengyel this week. In truth, he said, with its handsome downtown village and scenic, unspoiled outlying coastal areas, Edgartown is a natural magnet for real estate sales.
High-end real estate sales now account for more than half of land bank revenues, and records kept by the land bank show a clear upward trend in high-end sales on the Island.
In 1994, 15 per cent of the total land bank revenues were generated by property sales $1 million or higher. In 1996, 30 per cent of total revenues came from sales $1 million or more. Last year the number climbed to 51 per cent.
In 1994 there were 12 sales of $1 million or higher on the Vineyard with a total dollar value of $20.7 million. In 1996 there were 29 sales of $1 million or higher with a total dollar value of $55.3 million. In 2000 there were 81 sales of $1 million or higher with a total value of more than $200 million. That's a tenfold increase in high-end transactions in the span of seven years.
Property sales of $500,000 or higher followed a similar upward track between 1994 and 2000.
And land bank records show that the lion's share of the high-end property sales took place in Edgartown.
In the six-year period between 1994 and 2000, Edgartown had an average of 47 per cent of all individual property sales of $1 million or higher. The percentage was consistently between 45 and 51 per cent, with only one small dip in 1999, when 32 per cent of the high-end individual sales occurred in Edgartown.
Chilmark had 43 per cent of these high-end sales in 1999, but in every other year, Edgartown ran well ahead of this rural coastal up-Island town in high-end sales. Last year, 51 per cent of all individual property sales of $1 million or higher were in Edgartown, while 27 per cent were in Chilmark. The next highest town was Tisbury, with 13 per cent, followed by Aquinnah, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury, with three per cent each.
But no matter how the dollar-value property sales fall among the six Island towns, this much is true: The large sales have buoyed coffers at the land bank.
"It is really the high end that is carrying the land bank's treasury right now," Mr. Lengyel said.