Harsch real estate year end review

posted Jan 16, 2018, 11:53 AM by Jason Hoch

2017 saw a reasonably good increase in market activity over 2016 but in terms of the numbers of sales transactions, it is still a wide gap from earlier decades and in the later 1980s specifically. The next highest year of activity was 2004 with 73 sold single family homes, a drop of 27%.


As of this writing (1/15/18) the stock market has reached unprecedented and historic heights attributed by most pundits to a number of factors including exceedingly low interest rates, “the Trump effect tax reform”, rising employment, corporate profitability and low national and international problems. These same pundits are projecting a rosy future ahead with continued accelerated growth in GDP, rising employment, even higher corporate profits and along with all of this a continued rise in the stock market.


Others, in the minority at this time, see troubles ahead as the debt burden weighs against the millennials’  ability to spend as the boomers have up to now.  Roughly 67-70% of the US economy is consumer driven so any weakening of this economic driver will impact GDP thus corporate profits and in turn the markets which are sustained by  the perception and valuations based on corporate performance.


The great question that lies before us is when and if there will be a major or just minor correction in the markets, stocks as well as real estate. The historic trends show periods of growth followed by corrections. The odds of a correction in the year or two ahead of us are greater it would seem, than a significant further advance in values. Demographics as well as the debt burden facing today’s younger buyers suggest the view favoring the decline to be more likely than any significant further increase in asset values. This would be especially true for the high end of the real estate market.


The Berkshire real estate market has been negatively impacted by the departure of employment for decades and the aging and declining population. One look at the volume of high end sales over $1M tells a clear story as to the new make-up of buyers.  


Unless noted otherwise, all statistics below are taken from the Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service. There are a relatively small number of transactions each year which are not handled through the MLS and as such the actual complete numbers of sales are larger but the relative numbers are valid for noting trends.


31   - Number of active For Sale single family listings

10   - Number of active listings over $1M which means that 1/3 or 33% of the entire market inventory is priced above $1M

3     - Number of pending sales

59   - Number of closed sales for calendar 2017, an increase of 8 sales or 15% over 2016 closed sales

51   - Number of homes sold in 2016

2     - Number of closed sales in 2017 above $1M or 3%

2     - Number of closed sales over $1M in 2016

$271,000  - Median selling price for 2017, a 5% increase over median price of $257,500 for 2016

101 - Number of single family homes sold in Williamstown in highest recorded year, 1987

The following statistics are taken from Banker and Tradesman

13   - Number of condominium closed sales in Williamstown in 2017

14   - Number of condominium sales for Williamstown in 1987

20   - Highest number of condominium sales in Williamstown; years 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005


If you’d like any additional specific market information please feel free to email me with your requests.


I always appreciate referrals and will handle any with gratitude, discretion, confidentiality and expertise.


Happy New Year!




Paul A. Harsch III, Realtor® Emeritus, CBI, CRB, CRS, GRI

Serving Buyers and Sellers of Real Estate With Skill and Integrity Since 1975

cid:image001.png@01D1E298.54234900resized harsch logo 60 percent