The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank got an early Christmas present last week when weekly revenues spiked to just over $1 million due to a flurry of real estate transactions at year’s end.
Total land bank revenues for the week ending Dec. 21 were $1.09 million. There were 117 total transactions for the week.
The heavy traffic in late December real estate transfers is believed to be due to uncertainty over impending tax code changes in 2013. “I think that’s clearly a driving factor and I would not be surprised to see the activity continue right to the end of the year,” said Tom Wallace, a partner with Wallace and Co. Sotheby’s International Realty in Edgartown. He said Island attorneys, appraisers and estate planning professionals have been working long hours in recent weeks to complete real estate sales for clients, some of them arm’s-length sales and many others transfers within family estates.
Land bank numbers from last week confirm the trend. Of the 117 transactions, 29 qualified for land bank fees, meaning the remainder were not arm’s length sales.
But a number of large sales, including the $12.5 million sale of the Vose family property on the Edgartown harbor, helped boost coffers at the land bank, which has seen anemic revenues during the economic recession in recent years.
During the week of Oct. 12 this year the land bank collected no revenues. For the week ending Dec. 14, the land bank collected $182,000. Then last week the number jumped to over $1 million.
A single real estate sale in Aquinnah last week sent $1,400 to the land bank. In Chilmark nine sales generated $331,336 for the land bank. In Edgartown nine sales generated $521,180 in land bank fees. In Oak Bluffs four sales generated $73,600. In Vineyard Haven four sales generated $17,982. And in West Tisbury two sales generated $63,600.
The Vineyard’s only public conservation organization, the land bank collects a two per cent transfer fee on most real estate transfers. The money is used to buy public conservation land for open space and recreation as well as protection of farmland, the Island aquifer and scenic views.
Because the land bank has been husbanding its resources in recent years, it has bought relatively few properties.
Mr. Wallace said the year-end activity has been a boost for the real estate market as well as the land bank, but he said it is too soon to say whether it marks a solid upturn. “Activity is good, and certainly we saw more in 2012 than 2011,” he said.
“But uncertainty remains as people keep an eye on what is happening in Washington.”