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New Listings mid-week July 28

Here are the latest New Listings:

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Which is Massachusetts’ most expensive County

7 Counties have a median price lower than the median for the State while 6 clock in above that level – which was $525,000 in the first half of 2021, up 20% from H1 2020 and 28 % from 2018.


Open Houses Sunday July 25

This is the updated list of today’s Open Houses:

Click on these links for details: (more…)

Open Houses weekend July 24/25

Here are the Open Houses this weekend. Because of the quirks of MLS properties with OH’s both days so not show up in both days’ lists but do if you click on the individual properties. I will publish the updated list for Sunday tomorrow at 8 a.m.


Click on these links for details: (more…)

New Listings week ending July 23

Here are the latest New Listings:

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New Listings mid-week July 21

Here are the latest New Listings as of Bastille Day:

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Swampscott FY 2021 Property Tax Rate Calculation

Swampscott’s residential tax rate will drop from $14.30 in Fiscal Year 2020 to $13.80 in FY 2021 (and down from a high of $18.84 in FY 2013). The FY 2021 rate will be the lowest since 2008.

Commercial and industrial property is surcharged at 170%, as in FY 2020, resulting in a tax rate of $24.90, down from $25.85 in FY 2020 (and a high of $35.02 in FY 2013).

The average SFH tax bill has been flat in recent years:

“Every year since 2017, Swampscott’s average, single-family home tax bill has dropped or stayed level – and that’s unique, exceptional,” said Fitzgerald in the fiscal 2021 tax classification hearing on Dec. 9. “You won’t be able to find another community in the commonwealth that has spent as much time really trying to find balance and stability. Many peer communities have increased their taxes every year over the past four years.”

How is the rate calculated?
The method of calculating the tax rate is quite simple: take the $ amount of the previous year’s tax levy, add 2.5% for Proposition 2 1/2, and also add any new growth (such as new construction or a condo conversion). This figure is the new maximum tax levy. To this figure is added debt service – the Principal and Interest payable on the town’s debt.
Note that in recent years, Swampscott has not assessed the maximum allowed under this formula, a decision that has reduced the tax bill for residents.
Here are the numbers for FY 2020 and FY 2021, remembering that the FY 2021 runs from July 2020 to June 2021.

The Tax Rate
The actual tax rate depends upon the total Assessed Value of all property: residential, and commercial, industrial and personal (CIP). The tax rate is calculated by dividing the total dollar amount to be raised from each class by the Assessed Value of each class. Thus, the headline tax rate will also fluctuate depending upon the direction of Assessed Values.
In simplistic terms, if we assume that the $ amount to be raised increases by a little more than 2 1/2% each year, then if the average Assessed Value also increases by a little more than 2 1/2% the tax rate will be unchanged. If the increase in Assessed Values is less than 2 1/2%, then the tax rate will rise. And if the increase in Assessed Values is more than 2 1/2% then the tax rate will fall. In recent years Assessed Values have been increasing significantly more than 2 1/2% allowing for the tax rate to decline sharply.
Looking at the Swampscott residential tax rate, in FY 2020 it was $14.30, achieved by dividing $42.9 million raised from residential homeowners by the residential AV of $3.0 billion. In FY 2021 the amount to be raised from residential taxpayers is set to increase slightly to $43.7 million, but because the total residential AV increased by 5.4% to $3.17 billion, the headline tax rate has dropped sharply to just $13.80, the lowest figure since 2009.

The residential real estate market in Swampscott was stable in 2020 (and 2020 prices will be the basis for the FY 2022 tax rate), with the median price of Single Family Homes sold rising by 2.1%. Sales in any year represent only a small percentage of the total stock so it does not follow that assessed values calculated by the town will mirror these movements.
As to the tax rate for FY 2023, 2022 ( the basis for FY 2021) is a different story with the median Single Family price increasing 16% in the first half of the year. The actual rate will depend on a number of factors: the amount of debt service, how much of the maximum tax levy is assessed, and the shift to the CIP class being three of them. But unless there is a dramatic change in the market in the second half of 2021 the likelihood is that the actual tax rate will decline significantly in FY2023.
From a residential real estate perspective, the substantial decline in the tax rate in recent years and the stability in tax bills are both very welcome news and are clearly encouraging more people to decide both to live and work in Swampscott.

Market Analyst | Team Harborside | teamharborside.com
Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty
One Essex Street | Marblehead, MA 01945
m 617.834.8205


Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark licensed to Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated

“If you’re interested in Marblehead, you have to visit the blog of Mr. Andrew Oliver, author and curator of OliverReports.com. He’s assembled the most comprehensive analysis of Essex County we know of with market data and trends going back decades. It’s a great starting point for those looking in the towns of Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Lynn and Swampscott.”

Andrew Oliver
REALTOR® | Market Analyst | DomainRealty.com
Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers

m. 617.834.8205


Why Is the Market White Hot? No, It’s Not the Pandemic

Today’s market problems – a shortage of affordable housing, historically tight inventory of homes for sale and rising prices – weren’t caused by the latest pandemic-caused economic slowdown. It goes back to the Great Recession.

Experts say the U.S. housing market was already being roiled by forces fueling the current housing-price explosion even before the pandemic.

Matthew Murphy at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy said supply shortages were evident heading into the pandemic, adding that “the context here to this current housing moment is that we were still recovering from the 2008-2009 foreclosure crisis.”

Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors® has been pointing to an “underbuilding gap” of between 5.5 and 6.8 million housing units since 2001. (more…)

Mortgage refinancing just got cheaper

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will eliminate the Adverse Market Refinance Fee for loan deliveries effective August 1, 2021.

Lenders will no longer be required to pay Fannie and Freddie a 50-basis point fee when they deliver refinanced mortgages. The fee was designed to cover losses projected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The success of FHFA and Fannie and Freddie’s COVID-19 policies reduced the impact of the pandemic and were effective enough to warrant an early conclusion of the Adverse Market Refinance Fee.” FHFA’s expectation is that those lenders who were charging borrowers the fee will pass cost savings back to borrowers.

“Santa Claus has come early for homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “The fee had often resulted in an increase of one-eighth percentage point in rate.” (more…)

Open Houses Sunday July 18

Here are today’s Open Houses:

Click on these links for details: (more…)

Essex County Mid-Year 2021 Market Report

The real estate market in Essex County continued to boom in the first half 2021 (H1 2021), with multiple offers the norm for most properties. The COVID-inspired slowdown in the second quarter of 2020 impacted sales – which were delayed – rather than prices. Thus, while Year- on- Year (YOY) increases in sales are from an artificially low base, the increase in median prices is real.

The median SFH price in H1 2021 broke through $600,000, just a year after reaching $500,000 for the first time.

In H1 2021 only 5 of the 34 cities and towns – Amesbury, Lynn, Methuen, Haverhill and Lawrence – had a median SFH price under $500,000, while 16 had median prices above $750,000. Every town except Middleton saw double digit increases YOY, while Marblehead was the only town where the H1 2021 median SFH price was lower than in H1 2020.

The median condo price increased more modestly, increasing by “only” 12.1% YOY to $379,000.