Covid19 & The Martha’s Vineyard Real Estate Market – March, 2020

Jen Hawkins O'Hanlon, REALTOR®


I want to start by saying that I hope that anyone affected my Covid19 is able to get the help they need. I know that many are in areas that are seeing the worst of the virus right now. We only have a few confirmed cases on the Island at this time, but are expecting many more to come over the next several weeks. We are hopeful, though, that if we can keep the numbers down here, the Island will be a safe place for people to come to this summer.

I am providing this information in an effort to help ease possible anxiety during this time, if you are concerned in any way about how the virus will affect the Vineyard real estate market. This is my opinion of what we may be facing here on the Island with the real estate market over the coming months, both with sales and rentals.

There is so much we don’t know about Covid19 and what it means for the health and wellbeing of our country, as well as for the economy over the coming months. Will we still be staying home in May? June? Is a recession imminent? Nobody seems to know.What I DO know is that 9/11 and the Great Recession have proven that our country has the strength and resiliency to get through the worst times and come out stronger on the other side.

Our country is united in times of trouble and resourceful when necessary. I am confident that this will be further proof that we will join together to do whatever it takes to get through a difficult time.

As we consider the uncertain economic times ahead, I want to share what I saw here on the Island during the last recession. Martha’s Vineyard was by no means untouched, but we felt it less and for a shorter time period than others around the country.

Instead of being forced to sell their homes, many were able to add their property to the rental market and wait to sell when the economy improved.
Certainly some people delayed plans to make their Island purchase, but they continued coming on vacation. This created a period when there was high demand for rentals while there was a lull in rental properties coming on the market, which in turn led to many owners raising rental rates.

Fast forward to the last five years when the sales market has been very strong again and many homes were added to he rental market, causing some owners to have weeks that went unrented.

With added inventory and the new lodging tax (tenants must pay about 10% of the rental rate) many landlords have had to pause and reevaluate their rental rates.

Why am I explaining all of this?

If you are a landlord and wish to maximize your rental income, you will want to take a hard look at your rates and make sure they are competitive in the current market, especially for this summer.

If we get through the Corona virus by the summer, it will most likely be necessary to take last minute rentals at a lower rate and for less than a full week stay.
If you are thinking about making a purchase, considering the current interest rates and rental demand during the last recession, now may actually be a wise time to purchase an income producing property on the Island.

The first summer may be difficult and not provide income you can count on, but based on my experience, we will still have people flocking to the Island for their summer vacation, even if we do enter into a recession.

If you are considering selling or have your house on the market, working with a professional who is prepared to create video tours of your property and understands the importance of digital marketing (now more than ever) will be key. I listed two properties last week and have created video tours for both of them.

FaceTime showings work extremely well for anyone looking to purchase on the Island. In 2019, two of my sales were with out of state buyers who were able to secure their Vineyard properties through FaceTime showings.

Please reach out if I can be of further assistance as we continue to navigate through this difficult time in history.



As a team, we work in harmony for the benefit of our clients. We handle multiple transactions at once and are able to execute a complex marketing strategy by leveraging team resources. We can be in several physical locations at once to ensure showings are always possible for our buyers and sellers. Our clients benefit from the combined experience of our agents and administrative staff.

Let's Connect
Follow Us