Martha’s Vineyard Times- Meet the Brokers – Alyssa Halisky
Alyssa Halisky, Broker Associate
Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty
Is Edgartown your main office and what areas do you cover?
This is our main office in Edgartown on North Water Street but we have another office in Chilmark above the Chilmark Tavern — a home base for up-Island.
We cover every town on the Island: sales and rentals Island-wide. We have ten full time brokers, a rental department, an office administrator and a full time finance manager/bookkeeper.
You are part of the Sotheby’s brand?
We joined Sotheby’s International Realty in 2007, an amazing company to be affiliated with. They have such a global reach and have revamped the brand which people recognize for their high level of service. We offer the same level of service regardless of home price range. We take everything on regardless of price. It’s all about the reach and every property deserves that reach. Our office has also invested a lot in local marketing but the Sotheby’s International Realty brand has complemented these marketing efforts with their worldwide connections and media partners.
How long have you been with the firm?
I have been with the firm for just over 15 years. I moved to the Island about 16 years ago; I have a master’s degree in biotechnology/biochemistry and did cancer research for a number of years before moving here. I couldn’t do research here on the Island, so I tried real estate. It’s great — as a mom of three, it’s a busy career but also has some flexibility: I’m able to pick up the kids from school, work a bit remotely — it’s been a good fit. I found organizational skills I used in cancer research and my mathematical background helped me with the analytical side of real estate.
What’s your favorite part of the business?
It’s hard to say one thing, there are so many sides to real estate that people don’t always see. The client relationships are huge: I love talking about the Island and the community. Seeing someone purchase their first home, or their vacation home they have saved for many years; then years later, going back and visiting them — there’s such a bond.
I manage the office and we are a great team here. We love working together, it’s such a positive work environment. It’s not a chore to come to work and it’s such a great company.
How has the relationship with the client changed over the years?
A lot of our business now happens through email and Facetime, and for a number of transactions this year I haven’t met the client until after the closing; or at the walkthrough when they come to see the property for the first time. That personal aspect has been missing during COVID; though once we move on a lot of our business may stay more remote. We have many digital tools that we have implemented this year to facilitate that: a lot of video and facetime showings. I really think the bond with the client has strengthened since they are relying on the broker even more when they aren’t physically here — you are their eyes, checking the details of the house: opening up the closet doors, etc. That’s a lot of responsibility and trust. Clients are grateful in the end.
Where are your clients from?
They are from all over: New York, Connecticut, California, Boston. We do get a lot of clients that reach out to us since they are affiliated with the Sotheby’s brand. Their expectation is that the level of service will be the same as we are one cohesive organization. We see a lot of international buyers and renters, though this year has been challenging with COVID and the travel restrictions.
How has COVID affected sales and rentals?
When things shut down initially no one knew what direction things were going and brokers didn’t know what would happen. But quickly we realized that the demand for a safe place was foremost. The Vineyard, as we know, is a safe place. Locations like the Vineyard — safe places that are easy to navigate — became top of the list. Right away we had a flurry of buyers who had always loved the Vineyard and had searched for years and now said, it’s time to buy. People wanted to get in right away and have a quick closing: They could work remotely, and their children could learn remotely. It checked a lot of boxes.
Instead of spending only July and August on the Vineyard, we are finding homeowners spending months in their home, as they’ve extended their season. The value of their home here is more meaningful. They take a step back and look at their home differently now: it’s valuable, it’s safe and it’s personal. People are investing in their homes; whether it’s the huge demand for outdoor furniture, or interior furnishings to make a home more comfortable. It’s nice to see things coming back to that.
Have sales increased?
Yes, according to LINK sales were up 38 percent, and inventory is at an all time low.
We are continuing to see sales up from last year. We have a waiting list for rental clients. People just want to be here: the Vineyard is easy to get to, and people are still uneasy about long-distance travel.
At what price point do most of your sales lie?
Pretty much scattered all around — we are seeing buyers of all price points. In 2020, our average sale price was $2,315,511 with sales ranging from $295,000 to $13,000,000. There continues to be a huge demand for properties under $1 million with those properties typically going under contract within a week. For the ultra-high-end price point (over $10 million), your buyer pool is a lot less; buyers are not going to overpay; they are still very savvy. Sales continue to be strong in 2021, with sales up 51 percent compared to this time last year.
There is huge demand for a finished product. Given the high construction costs and unavailability of contractors, it presents a challenge and certainly a turnkey home is more desirable than ever. That’s a change in this COVID time, highlighting the ease of getting right in.
What is the Martha’s Vineyard Community Housing Fund?
Through the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, now called the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, we established in 2019 an annual fund set up by Wallace & Co./ Sotheby’s International Realty to create a more formal giveback to the Island community. A percentage of our sales commission that we take in as brokers we put into this community fund. The mission is to give to organizations on the Island and help with the affordable housing needs. The Permanent Endowment has been amazing to work with. Each year they collect the applications that meet our mission to fund. At the end of the year we review the applications and we donate accordingly.
We feel strongly about the need for more affordable housing and our fund is one way to give back. All the brokers in our firm are Islanders, have raised kids here and work very hard to be here; we have compassion for the need and are involved with organizations giving back to our community in different ways. We are open to ideas, trying to figure out creative ways to do that to help the island.
1 North Water Street, Edgartown
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