BY LILLIAN SHAPIRO
DIRECTOR OF REAL ESTATE ADVERTISING
---- — As those on the North Shore and beyond have known for years, Salem has become the urban, chic place to live. What some may not know is that Salem experienced an astounding resurgence in condominium sales in 2012. According to brokers Betsy Merry and Dan Fox of MerryFox Realty, the numbers, as well as the lack of inventory, speak for themselves.
“Condo sales are very interesting, especially here in Salem,” Merry says. “For example, we see a lot of empty nesters leaving homes, who want their move to be exciting. They are looking for open, dramatic spaces with very high-end appointments. They want what Salem has to offer, that ‘European lifestyle’ where they can walk to movies, museums and restaurants.”
In line with the Realtors’ assessment, MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data confirms that in terms of unit volume, condominium sales in the city were up by 29 percent this year versus last, while units priced $250,000 or over were up a whopping 55 percent.
“What makes this even more impressive is that if you were to take a market snapshot, you’d see that we had 32 percent less inventory in 2012,” Fox says. “Had we had more on the market, we could have sold twice as much.”
This astonishing rebirth, according to Merry and Fox, surprisingly took flight over the past six months. Traditionally a quieter time, the partners describe July through December as a “buying frenzy.”
“This should not be a busy time for us, but it has been wild. It is all about supply and demand and low interest rates. Anything we put on the market for under $300,000 is sold within a week,” Merry says. “We have seen a huge percentage of people, on the recommendation of their financial advisers, adding real estate to their portfolios. We haven’t seen this type of activity in 10 years.”
“Another thing we have not seen in years,” Fox says, “is real appreciation. Sellers are actually making money and recouping their investments. We are seeing both a decrease in the number of condo ‘short sales’ and an increase in the median selling price. The curve has definitely shifted to the right.”
At MerryFox, 2012 saw a 65 percent increase in condominium closings and a 55 percent increase in overall sales, with price tags significantly higher than the year prior. As for 2013, should this past year be any indication, the partners are wildly optimistic.
“We attribute a lot of this to increased buyer confidence in the market. In our area and across the nation, home sales are definitely up,” Fox says. “There is also a confidence in Salem itself with the new expansion of the Peabody Essex Museum, the deepwater dock and the new power plant. This is just proof that there are great expectations for this area. It’s an exciting time to live in Salem.”
For information on buying and selling in Salem and surrounding towns, call or visit Betsy Merry and Dan Fox at MerryFox Realty, 224 Derby St., Salem; 978-740-0008.