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Williamstown and Berkshires Luxury Property Markets and Marketing 2019

As of today, June 3, 2019, there are 11 single family homes actively for sale listed at $1 million dollars plus. As of this datBerkshire County Real Estate For Salee 2019 one property in the Williamstown MA real estate market has closed for $1.2 million dollars.   One $1.5 million dollar property in Williamstown MA is listed as a pending sale as of today.

For the entire year of 2018 there were 4 "million dollar" sales in the Williamstown real estate market, the highest at $1.53 million with an assessed value of $1,966,600. This Williamstown property came on the market three years ago.  The original listing price was set at $3.5M. The listing had changed hands from the original listing broker to a second broker when a buyer was found and the price lowered.

The odds are 1:4 that one single currently listed $1 million dollar plus in Williamstown MA listing will sell this year. Of the 11 presently listed homes in Williamstown.  Five  different firms share the listing brokerage on these 11 properties.  One firm has the greatest number (4) listings in this price range so odds are better and they may get the one sale this year.

From January 1, 2015 until the present  there have been (33) $1 million dollar plus listings that have expired or been cancelled or withdrawn for lack of a sale. Most of these sellers have been relisted their properties multiple times. A few sellers have not relisted we can only suppose that they are waiting for the market values to go up or they have become frustrated with the failed efforts at a sale.  The lack of a sale frustrated the sellers and also the listing brokerage firms who in good faith spent advertising and marketing dollars to promote their properties.

As of this date last year (2018) there had been 5 sales in the Berkshires at 1 million dollars or over.  Does this mean we could reasonably expect there to be as many as 25-28 sales in this price range for the year leaving another 20-21+/- to close or another 16-17 to go under agreement and close this year?  It does not seem likely since this is the first week in June 2019 leaving only 6 months to close on 25-28 sales in the above $1 million dollar mark.  This would require that going forward in 2019 approximately 4-5 properties priced above $1 million dollars would need to close every month.  

Given the current inventory and the addition of more homes priced over $1 million dollars to come on the market as the year progresses, the apparent odds of selling a million dollar currently listed home this year would be about 1 in 7.  This translates to an 86% chance that the home priced above $1 million dollars in Berkshire County will languish on the market another year.

These odds are not encouraging for Berkshire County high end sellers.  Much of the expense for the listing brokerage firms who expend time, money in advance for marketing and additional resources for these premier properties will also be lost. Sellers of high end real estate can and do of course expect more dollars and higher quality marketing efforts from the brokerage. Frustrated sellers will and often do switch brokerages over time.  Most of these high end properties have been with several different brokerages over the years. This translates to a dismal loss of  brokerage marketing dollars.   When accepting a premier property listing the brokerage firm risks an 86% chance of losing those advance luxury marketing dollars.    Eventually the seller moves on to an different brokerage and lowers the price in optimistic hope that this new brokerage will deliver a buyer.  Which like the lottery or a hole in one may happen but the odds are not with the seller.

Fierce competition by real estate  firms to get  “trophy” listings in the Berkshires is commendable.  Every brokerage firm has ideas on how to market a luxury property although most of the avenues for marketing luxury listings is the same for all brokerages.  However the brokerage's odds on any return on  investment is weak at best. 

he chance of selling a $1 million dollar plus listing in the Berkshires IS better than buying a lottery ticket.  That is a positive note.  Now consider that  the effort expended to buy a lottery ticket is a $1 dollar purchase at local market.  The effort to market a $1 million dollar luxury property listing on the other hand requires hours of time invested (driving, phone calls, appointments, emails, etc)  and thousands of dollars in luxury marketing expenses in advance of any payment on the front end.  We buy a lottery ticket easily where the odds are less of winning the million dollar prize.  However luxury listings are a two edged sword when it comes to real estate brokerages who have a greater chance of losing time and money after expending dollars and time to market a luxury listing. 

It is  difficult to explain the facts and figures of the actual Berkshires real estate market to impatient sellers who simply desire a buyer.  Sellers may refuse to lower a price that is with statistical proof no longer pertinent in our current Berkshires market.  High end buyers are becoming scarce with the loss of industry, income producing careers and population in the Western part of Massachusetts. The regrettable end result of all these factors is a dissatisfied seller seeking a new brokerage firm to promote their luxury property.  

Real estate agents are eternally optimistic like the golfer who once in his/her life made a hole in one.  If it happened once then lightning could strike in the same spot- eventually.  Optimism on the part of real estate agents and the ego driven need to obtain a trophy listing often drives list prices higher.  Most real estate brokerages eagerly accept a luxury listing at any price with the hope that eventually the seller will lower the price  to the point where selling the property is actually possible.  Hope springs eternal and the belief that patience will be rewarded is ever present in real estate. However it is more likely that the agent risks losing the listing to another brokerage firm who will again spend time and effort to repackage the listing and promote it.  The chance of selling the $1 million dollar and over listing in the Berkshires or Western MA remains low regardless.  With that being said NOW is the time for buyers to make an offer on those luxury properties in the Berkshires.  

Looking at the overall Williamstown MA real estate market as of this midpoint of the year (2019), we have 50 active single family listings on the market and 6 properties listed as pending sales. The highest listed property is priced at $5.3 million dollars and the highest listed PENDING property is listed at $609,000. The median list price for the Williamstown MA real estate market is around $650,000 whereas the median SOLD price is $287,000.  This translated to less than half the median list price  which is statistical evidence of the imbalance in our community between a heavy inventory of high dollar listings compared to a low inventory where the majority of the actual selling activity is occurring.

Interestingly there were exactly the same number of closed sales last year (2018) to June 3rd in Williamstown.  That number was 14 sold properties. The median selling price for these properties was $265,000.   The highest real estate sold price in Williamstown last year was one property at  $575,000. Sixty nine (69) properties were sold in 2018 in the Williamstown MA real estate market.

Assuming therefore that number (69) holds true for 2019 Williamstown MA real estate market these are the sales that must be achieved.  Presently ( June 3, 2019) 15 properties in Williamstown show up in MLS as pending.   We have 14 closed sales for Williamstown listed in the MLS as of today.  Properties exchanged between sellers and buyers that are never listed by brokerage firms are not included in these numbers.  

If the multiple listing system brokerage numbers hold true for 2018-2019 then 39 properties should go under contract and close this year in Williamstown.  We currently have 50 active MLS properties on the market in Williamstown.  Clearly the bulk of activity will most likely fall in the lower to mid-range of listing prices.  We will need to see at least 6 properties go under contract every month going forward  to approach our 2018 sold property numbers in Williamstown MA.   A marvelous goal and possibly achievable in 2019.