As the nation struggles through a housing crisis, President Obama happens to be vacationing in an area of the country shielded from plummeting home sales.
The National Association of Realtors reported this week that the sale of existing homes fell by 27.2% in July, marking the biggest one-month drop ever recorded. Sales of single-family homes fell to their lowest rate in 15 years.
But with a median housing value of $1,097,469 in July of this year, Chilmark, Massachusetts is a cocoon of certainty amid an uncertain real estate market. Chilmark is where the president has been staying while on Martha’s Vineyard; an island unto itself as Massachusetts’ state-wide home values average a mere $366,721 in comparison. The national average is $235,429.
In fact, Dukes County, where Martha’s Vineyard is situated, is the only county in the state where single-family housing sales are up. State home sales are down 28% for July.
The president's Treasury-backed housing program, which sought to help three million people endure the housing crisis, has in fact only helped about 460,000 so far.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted as much Friday in a speech at an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Household finances and attitudes also bear heavily on the housing market, which has generally remained depressed. In particular, home sales dropped sharply following the recent expiration of the homebuyers' tax credit.”
While recognizing obtaining a mortgage is still a difficult prospect for some, Bernanke sees a glimmer of positivity. “Going forward, improved affordability--the result of flower house prices and record-low mortgage rates--should boost the demand for housing,” he said.
The Martha’s Vineyard housing market may be solid, but the island’s retail industry has been hurt. Todd Rebello, owner of local tee-shirt store, The Locker Room, tells Fox. “Economically, it was a difficult summer retail. Same thing across the country, we're feeling it here in retail. Lot of people but people are really cautious with their spending.”
That’s not a surprise to Moody’s Analytics economist Mark Zandi, “You know, I think everyone is nervous; from lower income households to upper income households; from Martha's Vineyard out to the bay area of California; across nearly every industry,” he says. “You know we've been put through a lot. We suffered a very severe financial shock-- a great recession-- and people don't forget that very easily.”
Although island businesses may hope for a boost from the presidential visit, the Martha’s Vineyard’s housing market is humming along just fine on its own.
Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.