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August 3, 2017

Nantucket vs Martha’s Vineyard : Vacationers Swear Loyalty to Only One

The Wall Street Journal, US Edition (by Candace Taylor)

(excerpted from The Wall Street Journal)

Former Secretary of State John Kerry made national headlines earlier this year when, after spending decades summering on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, he bought a home on nearby Martha’s Vineyard.

On the face of it, the move doesn’t seem surprising—the two islands off Cape Cod are less than 20 miles apart, as the crow flies, and both are famed for their sweeping sandy beaches, historic New England charm and affluent summer residents.

But despite these similarities, denizens of the two preppy enclaves are fiercely loyal to their chosen island. Many Martha’s Vineyard loyalists say they’ve never been to Nantucket, and vice versa.

Residents can rattle off a long list of perceived differences between the two islands, both of which can only be accessed by boat or plane. The larger, more heavily wooded Martha’s Vineyard is closer to the mainland and more accessible. It also has a reputation for being more ethnically and racially diverse, relaxed and artsy, whereas Nantucket is seen as more buttoned-up, with a high-octane social scene that lures jet-setting CEO types.

As a result, he said, the real-estate markets on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard largely “don’t compete with each other, because they each have their own following.”

Real estate doesn’t come cheap on either island, but prices are higher on Nantucket, where a diminishing supply of buildable land has attracted the attention of investors. Property markets on both islands are gradually regaining their footing after a slowdown in the years after the global financial downturn. On Nantucket, the median sales price for the first five months of this year was $1.235 million. That’s up significantly from $830,000 for the same period in 2013, but still down from $1.634 million for the first five months of 2007, according to data from the Warren Group.

… despite the difficulty of the building process on Nantucket, a number of spec homes priced from $3 million to $7 million have come to market in the past few years, many of them fully furnished. The homes are eagerly snapped up by buyers who don’t want to deal with the hassle and slow pace of navigating the building process on their own, said real-estate agent Steve DiFrancesco.

For Dennis and Tricia Brown, who bought a three-bedroom house on Nantucket in March for $1.725 million, the fact that the home was newly renovated was an important factor in their decision to buy it.

“It’s expensive to do renovations on Nantucket,” said Mr. Brown, Group Operating Officer of the NPD group, a market-research company. “Having a house that was in move-in condition was important to us.”

Read the full Wall Street Journal Article (originally published Aug 4 2017)