EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 18, 2013

Salisbury Beach's northern end seeing real estate resurgence

Salisbury's north end beach seeing rise in sale prices

By Angeljean Chiaramida
Staff writer

---- — SALISBURY — As the real estate market rebounds after the worst five year period since the Great Depression, interesting trends are surfacing in Salisbury, especially in the beach enclave.

According to Salisbury Chief Assessor Cheryl Gorniewicz, along the town’s shoreline the selling prices for homes have varied in relation not only to whether homes are ocean front or not, but also where along the beach homes are located, Gorniewicz said.

In general, based on recent sales, values of oceanfront homes along the north end of the beach are rising, while those along the south end are dropping a bit, she said.

The cut off point is in the mid-300 block along North End Boulevard. Those in this northern area of the beach are seeing a rise in sales prices for properties on larger lots, Gorniewicz said. Many are homes located on larger lots, ranging in size from 8,000 to 20,000 square feet.

She cited as an example a two-family, ocean front home in the mid-400 block on North End Blvd. Not a full duplex, the home’s second unit is very small, Gorniewicz said, more like a guest area than a rental unit. The property sold in August, 2012 for $1.375 million, although it was assessed for $1.215 million.

In recent years, homes haven’t usually sold for $160,000 more than assessed value, but because ocean front properties are in demand, it can happen, she said, if the buyer is motivated and the property is attractive and in a good location.

“People don’t easily part with oceanfront properties because they’re not easy to replace, so people can put them out there for whatever want and see if they’ll sell” Gorniewicz,said.

Additionally, she said, throughout the region, those who buy in Salisbury can get a big bang for their beach property dollar.

“In New England, it would be hard to buy a nice oceanfront property for less than in Salisbury,” Gorniewicz,said.

Also rising in value are primarily year-round homes located on the west side of North End Boulevard, along the salt marsh between 9th and 12th streets. Gorniewicz speculated one reason for that is the work being done in town with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a flood wall to keep marsh waters from invading the neighborhoods there during winter storm tides.

On 11th Street there were two home sales during the 24-month period analyzed that indicated this trend, she said. One, assessed at $482,000 sold at $520,000, and another sold for $480,000, $10,000 above its valuation.

“That’s a year-round neighborhood,” she said. “I think we’re seeing people looking to live year-round at the beach here in Salisbury who can buy homes in that price range.”

But there has been a slide in sales prices in the south end of the beach, she said, with a number of factors making that a reality. For one thing, she said, there are a good number of homes on the market in the south end of the beach, and they’re staying on the market for a while before selling, with listing prices dropping over time.

In addition, she said, the south end is more densely built.

“Historically, the south end just is a lot more tightly configured than the north end,” Gorniewicz,said. “There are more homes with multiple units (within them), and they’re on smaller lots. And Atlantic Avenue is more narrow and it’s one way. All those things contribute.”

Gorniewicz said what she’s observed is oceanfront homes with street frontage in the south end selling in the $700,000 range at the south end, after initially being listed at around $850,000.

Recent home sales along Commonwealth Avenue are also seeing interesting activity, she said, with homes being purchased, then razed and rebuilt.

One Oceanfront lot with two small homes on it on Commonwealth was assessed for $825,000, with the land representing most of the value of the property, although the homes were not in poor condition, she said. It sold for $825,000, she said, with the new owner demolishing homes, valued at about $154,000, and rebuilding. The building permit issued for the new home is for $345,000, she said, when plumbing and electrical permits are added, the value will rise.

Fortunately, Gorniewicz, is seeing fewer foreclosures and short sales in town. There were 20 foreclosures during the 24-months she reviewed for this years tax assessments, she said, with only two coming in 2013.

Of those 20 foreclosures, she said, the mortgage holders were able to find buyers for all the properties. Some were purchases by those intending to live in them, she said, but a few were purchased and resold, or flipped.

“Some who purchased foreclosures are flipping the homes within nine months to a year at a small profit,” she said. “And some or those are being flipped again. It’s interesting to watch that trend.”

Gorniewicz said commercial and industrial property in town has remained pretty stable as reflected in the sales during the 24-month period from July, 2011 to June 2013, that was analyzed for this year’s valuations. Also appearing to show little fluctuation from current values are residential structures that are not at the beach, she said.

In commercial sales, Stripers sold for $2 million, Gorniewicz said, while assessed for $1.95 million, and the former Chrysler dealership along Route 110 sold for $1.6 million, close to its valuation of $.592 million.

“Based on recent sales,” Gorniewicz said, “Salisbury industrial and commercial properties are holding their values and are remaining stable. That’s true for residential homes up-town (not at the beach). Throughout 2012, I am seeing up-town sales showing some appreciation (in prices) as we’re cleaning out the inventory (of homes listed for sale). “