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House for Sale: Affordable Martha's Vineyard

House for Sale: Affordable Martha’s Vineyard
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More about Martha’s Vineyard:
Martha’s Vineyard, MA: Gardens and Markets

Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard

Would you believe there are around 750 properties for sale on Martha’s Vineyard this year? Real estate activity is still slow out there. That’s why we called a friend of ours, Jon Hartzband, who specializes in affordable island properties.


By “affordable,” we mean under a half-million dollars. Could he show us some? His response: “Sure, come on out.”

Not long thereafter, we took the Steamship Authority ferry out of Woods Hole, heading for Vineyard Haven. From there we drove to Edgartown, where harborside property goes for seven or eight million dollars, and settled ourselves for the night in a wonderful, if a tad expensive, place called the Harbor View Hotel & Resort. Early the next morning we were in Jon’s car heading for the town of Oak Bluffs and a full day of moseying.

“Oak Bluffs is where the bargains are,” Jon said as we drove along next to the ocean on one side and the golf course President Obama likes on the other. “And our first stop,” he continued, flashing a smile, “will be our house! My wife, Skye–she’s a schoolteacher now–and I built it ourselves just three years ago.” Jon has lived on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 10 years; he met and married Skye there and now informally partners with her father, Jesse Sonneborn, in the real estate business.

But that’s far from all he does. He’s also a building contractor, house caretaker, real estate buyer’s representative, and landscaper; he runs a home-cleaning business, does tree work, and tends bar two nights a week. Oh, and he also owns and operates, with his brother, Michael, the Oak Bluffs General Store.

Jon and Skye are offering their new eight-room Oak Bluffs house (#1), located within an easy walk to town and an eight-minute bike ride to beaches. “If this or any of the properties I show you today were on the water, add about another $400,000 to the price,” Jon noted as he pulled into the driveway and parked in front of a small storage shed next to the backyard deck. “Also,” he continued, “2 percent of the selling price of any property on the island goes to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, which maintains hundreds of acres of open land here.”

After oohing and ahing over Jon and Skye’s little boy, Greyson, we walked through the spacious downstairs living/kitchen/dining area, plus bedroom/office and full bath, admiring the bamboo flooring throughout. We also saw the master bedroom with full bath and another sleeping area upstairs, and then the carpeted sleeping area/exercise room and laundry room in the basement. All in all, an impressive and, for Martha’s Vineyard, very reasonably priced property.

But the next property we saw was even less. Also in Oak Bluffs, built 12 years ago with three bedrooms and two bathrooms plus full basement, this place (#2) is owned by a local bank. Needs a little cosmetic work, but it has a nice backyard; it’s on a dead-end street, with the beach an easy walk away. “A good deal,” said Jon.

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