Blog :: 08-2009

Hamilton-Wenham Real Estate Market Review - July 2009

Hamilton Wenham Market UpdateOn July 31, 2009 there were 122 properties on the market in Hamilton-Wenham, MA.  During the month of July we saw a 10% decrease in inventory from the previous month where there were 136 properties on the market.

The asking price for July 2009 ranged from $199,900 - $9,985,000.  Average days on market was 189.

Hamilton-Wenham Real Estate Sales - July 2009

10 single family residential properties closed in Hamilton-Wenham during July 2009.  The lowest price was $126,500 and the highest price was $1,225,000.  The average sales price was $451,850.  The median sales price was $374,500.  The average days on market was 180.

2 Condos sold in July in Hamilton-Wenham during July 2009.  Both Condos sold for $599,000 ironically.  The average days on market was 667.  Condos in Hamilton-Wenham for the month of July sold for an average of 69% of the original listing price.

1 Multi-Family sold in July in Hamilton-Wenham during July 2009.  This property was on the market for 223 days.  Originally listed at $349,000, it sold for $300,000 or 86% of list price. 

Information from MLSPIN - Does not Include Rentals

Rain barrels help residents use water wisely

These flowers still look healthy and beautiful because of the watering Sue Farmer has been able to keep up with this summer thanks to her new rain barrel.


Danvers, MA -

Into each rain barrel a little rain must fall, and this past week the spontaneous showers did make rain barrel owners like Sue Farmer of Danvers very happy.

Farmer is a first-year owner of a town-sponsored rain barrel and she's very pleased with her acquisition.

"I've been using it all summer," Farmer said, as she recently filled her watering can one of the several times she needs to water the many beautiful flower gardens she's planted around her property. "Anyone who has a flower or vegetable garden almost has to have a rain barrel with the water bans we have in town. We can only water twice a week now."

But that mandate doesn't apply to people like Farmer who can tap into their own source of water, the one provided by Mother Nature. Even though a week ago, Farmer was down to a slow water trickle, one or two sudden rain showers this week have since filled the 55-gallon rain barrel. And that makes her husband, John, very happy.

"The water is all free," John Farmer said, indicating the use of a rain barrel is a no-brainer for the home gardener. "After all, this is the way they did it in the old days."

The Farmers' rain barrel is just one of 133 sold this year despite a rainy July, according to Pam Irwin in her role as water conservation adviser. Current rain barrel sales were bigger than any other year, she said. The program is now in its sixth year and though she hasn't an official accounting, Irwin estimates that more than 500 rain barrels have been sold to Danvers residents since it began.

"People are much more conscious of saving water," said Irwin, who noted that 1 inch of rainwater fills the 55-gallon rain barrel. "I think the green explosion is reaching out to the other sustainable issues. It's not just about recycling but saving water resources and using energy wisely."

Bargain offer

Pam Irwin, water conservation advisor, reminds residents that the new rain barrels are part of the town's rebate program. A $60 rain barrel will cost just $35, with the town picking up the other $25.

Call Norseman Plastic, 1-800-894-8397, ext. 824, and say you are a town of Danvers resident. Have your credit card ready for payment.

Pre-ordered, prepaid rain barrels may be picked up Oct. 3, at the Green Energy Fair at Holten-Richmond Middle School, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Courtesy of Salem News By Myrna Fearer

TWO OF A KIND - Legendary Ipswich coaches Welch, Spellman to be honored


This fall, Ipswich will dedicate its track to Ken Spellman, right, who coached from 1969 until this season. And the football stadium will be named Jack Welch Stadium in honor of Welch, who coached football for 37 years. The two men coached together for 36 years.


Jack Welch coached the Ipswich High football team for 37 seasons. His good friend, Ken Spellman, was a football assistant for nearly all of Welch's tenure and also coached Ipswich's track team from 1969 through the spring of 2009.

Both men had expertise in their areas and would've been successful even if they had lived 1,000 miles apart, but Ipswich was fortunate enough to have both of them working with student-athletes at the same time and in the same place. And now Ipswich High is going to show its gratitude by honoring them in a way that has both men feeling overwhelmed, even after a lifetime of achievement and service to thousands of kids in town.

At some point during the football season -- the date has yet to be determined -- the football complex at Ipswich will be newly named Jack Welch Stadium, and the track facility at the stadium will officially become the Ken Spellman Track.

Meanwhile, the playing surface itself, which has been known as Doyon Field, will be rededicated in honor of Paul Doyon, who died in the Vietnam War.

"We're planning on it," said Ipswich High Athletic Director Tom Gallagher. "The only thing that's still very tentative is when it's going to happen. Both of them have coached so many kids and they know so many people that we'd like to have it on a day when these people can attend.

"I have the utmost respect for both men," added Gallagher, who's been at Ipswich in one capacity or another since 1991. "They've been around for so long that I've only seen a small piece of what they've done. The way they've impacted kids in this school is second to none. Every time I go anywhere (outside the area) and I say Ipswich, someone will say, 'Oh, you must know Jack Welch.' And everyone knows Kenny (Spellman) as a humble man who'll do anything and everything for the kids. This will be a fantastic honor for both of them, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

Longtime Ipswich coach Doug Woodworth was instrumental in getting the proposal pushed through the athletic subcommittee and the School Committee. Welch, 77, who lives in Newburyport, thought he was being set up when Woodworth met up with him one night with a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the occasion.

"I thought it was a prank by Dougie," said Welch, who had a career record of 224-132-6 at Ipswich when he retired following the Thanksgiving Day game against Hamilton-Wenham in 2000. "Seriously, I had no clue what was going on. I was taken aback by it. When my daughter Kara heard about it, she joked, 'After all that time, you're finally going to own something in that town.' But I'm very humbled and honored."

Graciously accepting honor

Welch, who was as tough as they come in the football coaching ranks, was emotional as he contemplated the upcoming honor. Before he accepted it, he wanted to make sure the gridiron itself would remain Doyon Field.

"This is hard for me to fathom," said Welch, who has seven children, 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. "Growing up in a poor neighborhood in Newburyport, I was very lucky to get involved in sports as a kid. I was able to avoid the shoe shop (and play football at the University of Maine). I think about all that stuff -- the kids who played for us and the coaches and the parents who helped make it happen -- and now all of a sudden they're dedicating a stadium in my name? It's pretty awesome."

Spellman, 69, recently resigned from coaching, and his preference would've been to just fade into the background. But now that's not going to happen, and he's not sure how he feels about all that. He's never wanted to call attention to himself for any reason.

"I have mixed feelings (about the track dedication)," said Spellman, who graduated from Worcester North High School and Gordon College (1963). "Doug (Woodworth) is the one who brought it up (to school officials) and told me about it. There have been so many great athletes at Ipswich -- I'm not even in the same ballpark with them.

"We had five Ipswich High kids who died in Vietnam, including Paul Doyon. I wanted to know how the veterans' families felt about it. When I heard that it was okay with them, I was okay with it. I think of it as something I'm sharing with coach Welch and all the great athletes who've come through here."

Gearing teams for success

Welch earned tremendous respect for turning a small school into a football power. The Ipswich Tigers won state Class D titles in 1968 and 1969 and Super Bowl championships in 1977, 1991 and 1992. When he retired, he was ranked 10th in the state in total victories and fifth among coaches who stayed at one school.

"When you look at the whole picture, it's really about the kids," Welch said. "We had outstanding coaches, but high school sports is all about kids making the commitment. I wasn't the easiest guy to play for. I demanded a lot of them physically because we were always playing against bigger schools and I thought we had to be tougher than our opponents. For the simple fact that so many kids stayed with me, I owe them a ton of gratitude."

Spellman was his sidekick for virtually every football season and handled the defense for many years. They had an understanding and a mutual respect that comes from coaching together for more than three decades. It worked to Spellman's benefit in track, too, as Welch coached the throwing events for a while.

"Kenny is probably the most dedicated track coach I ever saw," Welch said. "He spent an inordinate amount of time with his athletes. If some kid wanted extra time on the pole vault or the hurdles or any event, Kenny would stay on the track with them. He loved being around kids who wanted to learn and get better. He was always that way. He would never shirk his duties. He actually went well beyond what he was supposed to do."

Spellman's track teams captured three Cape Ann League outdoor championships and a handful of titles in the old Greater Lynn Indoor League. He wasn't a track fanatic growing up. He basically absorbed the art of coaching the sport as he went along.

"I learned a lot of my work ethic from Jack (Welch)," Spellman said. "I wasn't a runner myself, but I learned about track coaching from peers like Steve Sawyer at Hamilton-Wenham (who's been coaching since 1969). I would go to clinics and talk to college coaches, and I learned from the athletes like J.J. Millette, who was a fantastic distance runner for us and at UMass-Amherst."

Girls track came into the picture in 1973 and Spellman was enthusiastic about it. It was suggested that the boys and girls could train together -- a novel idea back then -- and Spellman did it for the next 36 years. "We had some great girls track coaches along the way, like Gail Vaughn and Michelle Horgan," Spellman said. "That was a big help."

Ipswich finally got a new track in 2001, and "the culmination," Spellman said, came last season when the school hosted the Division 3 state championship. The coach was extremely proud to have everyone come to Ipswich.

"After all those years of running in the dirt, our kids got to work on a track," Spellman said, "and it was really big to have the state championship at our place."

What did Spellman enjoy the most?

"Watching kids improve," Spellman said, "and then transferring those things to life skills. I mean, we ended up with Dr. Hugh O'Flynn and Commander Greg Smith (U.S. Navy) and we had Bernie Adell (Notre Dame) and Bubba Galanis (another Notre Dame guy) and so many others. They weren't just great kids. They were all-American people and became my lifelong friends."

Spellman and Welch have shared a special bond with each other and with Ipswich, too. It'll just become more public and eternal at the dedication ceremony later this year.

Courtesy of Salem News By Mike Grenier staff writer

Things to Do - Ipswich, MA

castleSpend an unforgettable night in Ipswich at the Castle. Only 2 shows remaining for 2009! Load up your car with friends, food and fun and make your way up Argilla Road to the Crane Estate. Gates open at 5pm and the music starts at 7pm. Tonight's entertainment is Entrain (rock funk) and next Thursday is  the Orville Giddings Band (boogie blues).

Ipswich Real Estate Market Review - July 2009

ipswich_sealOn July 31, 2009 there were 146 properties on the market in Ipswich, MA.  During the month of July we saw a small increase from a month ago when we had 140 properties on the market.

The asking price for July 2009 ranged from $50,000 - $1,999,999.  Average days on market was 203.

Ipswich Real Estate Sales - July 2009

10 single family residential properties closed in Ipswich during July 2009.  The lowest price was $324,900 and the highest price was $595,000.  The average sales price was $423,375.  The median sales price was $385.950.  The average days on market was 157.

3 Condos sold in July in Ipswich during July 2009.  The lowest price was $192,500 and the highest price was $329,900.  The average sales price was $264,133.  The median sales price was $270,000.  The average days on market was 212.  Condos in Ipswich sold for an average of 97% of their list price.

There were no Multi-Family or Land closings in Ipswich for the month of July 2009.

Information from MLSPIN - Does not Include Rentals

North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly on the auction block

roadblockThe North Shore Music Theatre and its 26-acre property in Beverly will be auctioned off in October, according to an online listing by the company that will handle the auction.

The 54-year-old theater announced earlier this summer it was going out of business and was giving up a $2 million fundraising campaign it needed to put on a 2009 season. The theater had more debt that it could handle after a drop in ticket sales last season, a decrease in sponsorships and the costs associated with a 2005 fire that wasn't covered by insurance.

David Fellows, chairman of the NSMT Board of Trustees, said at the time that auctioning off the property was a possibility. On Monday, Fellows couldn't be reached for comment.

Daniel P. McLaughlin and Co. Auctioneers says the auction is scheduled for Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. at the Dunham Road theater. Nobody at McLaughlin could be reached for comment.

The auction will include the main theater building, the former education building and a separate restaurant on 26.5 acres.

McLaughlin's auction listing says the location has "tremendous redevelopment potential."

The property is assessed at $12.1 million by the city for tax purposes.

Fellows said in June that the theater's mortgage is $5 million and that while the land, buildings and other assets were worth $5 million at one time, it isn't worth that much now.

"Our guess is that it's half of that or maybe less," he had said.

In addition to the mortgage, the theater owes an additional $5 million to other creditors, including about $2.5 million in season ticket payments made for the 2009 season from about 4,400 subscribers. Boston Culinary Group, which ran the theater's food service, also has a $250,000 attachment on the property for unpaid bills.

Citizens Bank, which holds the theater's mortgage, appears to be making moves to foreclose on the property. On Aug. 8, a Citizens Bank vice president went inside the theater building "for the purpose...of foreclosing said mortgage," according to paperwork filed with the Salem Registry of Deeds.

It's not clear whether the auction was scheduled by the theater's board to avoid foreclosure or by Citizens as part of a foreclosure proceeding.

Article courtesy of Gatehouse Media, Inc. Bobby Gates /

Massachusetts housing market shows signs of perking up

homes825-thumbThe number of Massachusetts homes sold last month jumped nearly 12 percent from July 2008, and the decline in prices moderated, the Warren Group reported today.

Low interest rates, reduced prices, the first-time homebuyer tax credit, and improved consumer confidence contributed to last month's results, said the Warren Group, the Boston firm that tracks local real estate data and publishes Banker & Tradesman.

"This is a much-needed boost for the state's housing market," Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. "We haven't had a double-digit gain in monthly home sales since last October. And the declines in home prices have been getting smaller every month."

A trend toward moderation first seen in June appeared to continue in July, he added, while cautioning: "We're not out of the woods yet. We have to see consistent gains in sales going forward for home prices to stabilize." The number of single-family home sold in Massachusetts rose 11.8 percent to 4,977 from 4,453 in July 2008, the first increase in monthly home sales year-over-year in 2009, the Warren Group said.

The median selling price for single-family homes fell 4.7 percent to $305,000 from $320,000.

"Monthly median home prices fell by double-digit percentages year-over-year in the first five months of 2009," the Warren Group said. "But in June and July, home prices slipped by only single-digit percentages. The median price for homes sold through July retreated 11.4 percent to $280,000 from $316,000."

The Warren Group press release continued: "Condo sales remained fairly flat in July, but that's a significant step up from prior months when sales sank by 20 to 30 percent. And the decline in condo prices in July wasn't as steep as it has been."

The number of Massachusetts condos sold in July was 2,190 in July, slightly lower than the 2,227 sales in July 2008. So far this year, condo sales are off by about 20 percent, the Warren Group said.

The median condo price fell 4.3 percent to $276,000 in July from $288,500 last year. July's 4.3 percent drop was the smallest so far in 2009. the Warren Group reported. In the first five months of the year, price declines exceeded 10 percent.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors also issued its monthly report on the local housing market this morning. The association uses a different method to track sales activity than the Warren Group does.

July sales of single-family homes were up 12.7 percent compared with the same month a year ago, the first time since December 2008 that home sales have gone up year-over-year, the association said. Condominium sales were also up for the first time since August 2007.

According to the association, the number of single-family homes sold in July was 4,460 versus 3,957 in July 2008 and up 7.5 percent from the 4,147 sold in June 2009, the association said.

The median selling price for a detached single-family home in Massachusetts was $310,000, down 5.1 percent from $326,500 in July 2008 and up 1.3 percent from $306,000 in June 2009, the association said.

Looking at the Massachusetts condo market for last month, the association said that sales were essentially flat on a year-to-year basis - 1,820 sold in July 2009 versus 1,803 in July 2008 and up 12.1 percent from 1,623 sold in June of this year.

The July median selling price for a Massachusetts condo was $275,000, down 3.5 percent from $284,950 a year ago and flat with June 2009, the association said.

"Activity has been building for the past few months and we are finally seeing the real estate market respond in a positive way," Massachusetts Association of Realtors president Gary Rogers said in a statement. "Buyers are taking advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, low interest rates, and more affordable prices and getting into the market. While it is only one month, the number of homes put under agreement are also up, which means there is a good chance we could see additional months of increased sales ahead."

One bit of sobering perspective to put the July reports in context: The Warren Group recently reported that while Bay State foreclosures in July dropped sharply from a year ago, the number of foreclosure proceedings started by lenders increased to approach "historic highs."

The recession has consumers being furloughed or laid off, and one result is that more people are struggling to make their monthly house payments, that foreclosure report suggested.

Windhill Realty Welcomes Ellen Dixey as its Newest Realtor

dixey_ellenWindhill Realty is proud to announce Elle Dixey an Ipswich resident, as the newest member to join the North Shore brokerage.  Ellen has lived North of Boston for over 30 years, specifically in Salem, Marblehead and in the North Conway area of New Hampshire where she practiced real estate for over 6 years.  She chose to work with Windhill because they complimented her high-tech experience.  Ellen's technological edge attracts buyers from all over and offers sellers the most web exposure possible to sell their home. Ellen provides a competitive edge with her background in layout and design. The Windhill team is excited and proudly welcomes Elle Dixey!

Elle can be reached at or (978) 257-5070.


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Massachusetts OK's Advance on Home Buyer Tax Credit

seller_tools$8,000 loans can be used for closing costs and down payments.

Hundreds of first-time home buyers in Massachusetts will be able to get an advance on an $8,000 federal tax credit, allowing them to apply the money to down payments and closing costs, under a new program unveiled by Governor Deval Patrick yesterday.

Under the plan, the state will loan $8,000 to eligible borrowers who buy a home before Dec. 1 and finance it through the state's affordable housing bank, MassHousing. The loans will be interest free if repaid by June 1, 2010. By that time, buyers will be able to claim the $8,000 federal tax credit included in the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2009.

"That's phenomenal. That should kick in some lower-end buyers who haven't been able to get into the market,'' said Ronn Huth, owner of Buyers Choice Realty in Wenham. "Most of the buyers we are working with are looking forward to claiming the $8,000 tax credit.''

MassHousing estimates it will be able to help between 650 to 1,000 peo ple by the end of November, using $5 million set aside for the program.

The state bank, which sells tax-exempt bonds to raise capital, grants loans to those who meet certain income guidelines, depending on household size and region. For example, an individual or couple in parts of Worcester County can qualify if they earn no more $103,800.

"These loans will both help prospective home buyers achieve the comfort and stability of homeownership for their families and also stimulate the Commonwealth's economy through increased home sales,'' Patrick said.

Massachusetts joins more than a dozen states nationwide that have developed their own bridge loans under a plan announced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in late May.

At that time, federal officials said home buyers could apply their tax credit toward new home purchases when financing through the Federal Housing Administration or through state and local housing finance agencies.

Borrowers with an FHA-insured loan are still required to provide a 3.5 percent down payment before they can use the tax credit for any additional payment or closing costs.

Under the Massachusetts program, the $8,000 can be used to cover an entire down payment. Borrowers can purchase a one- to four-family home and must use it as a primary residence.

Gary Dwyer, a broker-owner of Buyer Agents of Boston, said the tax credit has prompted many of his clients to consider buying a home despite the down economy. The MassHousing program should help some borrowers close their deals, he said.

"For first-time home buyers, $8,000 is a lot of money,'' Dwyer said. "It is one of the key reasons a lot of people are out there looking.''

The federal tax credit is intended to stir the nation's sluggish housing market, and it may be working. First-time home buyers made up 29 percent of real estate transactions nationwide in May, up 10 percent from the same time last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Mary Trupo, the association's spokeswoman, said the new programs to provide immediate financial assistance to first-time home buyers will further help revive the housing market. The association is pushing for lawmakers to extend the tax credit into 2010, increase its value, and remove restrictions on income and other limitations.

"We believe it will bring more people back to the market,'' Trupo said. "Just as it is getting up and getting going, it could be stunted by an expiration date.''

Melanson's Fire Not Suspicious

Ipswich -

The three-alarm fire that destroyed the Melanson's Boat Shop building at 27 Water St. and severely damaged the adjacent home at 29 Water St. on Friday, Aug. 7, remains under investigation by the state fire marshal's office.

"There's no indication of foul play, but the cause is still under investigation," Fire Chief Art Howe III said. "We don't want anyone jumping to any conclusions. We do know the fire started in the Melanson's building."

Howe said the full investigation would take several weeks to complete.

No one was injured in the fire, but Ipswich firefighter Keith Carlson cut his hand on Saturday, Aug. 8, while on a detail to douse the smoldering ruins of boat shop building.

Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to another house at 31 Water St.

Buildings abutting the Ipswich River on Water Street are only several feet apart.

"We're lucky we didn't have 40-knott winds that day," Howe said. "It could have gone right down the street."

When firefighters arrived at about 9:30 a.m., Howe said the fire had already jumped to the newly constructed, two-and-a-half-story, three-bedroom home at 29 Water St., valued at $239,600 on town tax rolls.

Owners William and Lee Nelson were away on vacation and Howe said the home was "about 50 percent destroyed."

Henry Melanson Jr., who lived in the boat yard building's second floor, and his nurse got out safely.

"The Nelson's home should be able to be reconstructed," Howe said. "It's heavily damaged, but not a total loss."

Melanson and his nurse were in the Melanson building at the time of the fire and initially noticed "flame in the wall, coming from the outlet where they plug in the TV," said Howe.

The boat shop building, a two-story, wooden structure, 6,600 square feet, 74 feet long by 40 feet wide, which had fallen into disrepair with weathered shingles and exposed beams, was already fully involved when firefighters arrived.

The building, valued at $99,000 on tax rolls, totally collapsed in a wall of flame about an hour into the fire.

The town tax rolls show Arthur M. Harrington Jr. of Rowley owns the boat shop.

Plans to redevelop the property, proposing building four condominiums, are before the Zoning Board.

"It went up real fast. It was real quick," said Donald Freyleue, who was shooting video of the fire and lives in the neighborhood.

"The fire had a rapid rate of expansion," Howe said. "That's fairly common in buildings with high ceilings and large spaces not divided up. It was a loosely constructed building."

When faced with such circumstances, Howe said firefighters concentrate on preventing the fire from spreading to other buildings.

"We concentrate on cutting off the fire and then working back," said Howe. "The focus was on saving as much of the Nelson house as possible."

Small amounts of solvents, paints, varnish and linseed oil -- "typical things you'd find in a boat yard," said Howe -- likely contributed to the fire's rapid spread.

Howe said none of the products were present in large enough quantities to trigger federal safety regulations that require registration with the local fire department.

"There may have been some combustibles inside," Fire Department Lt. Will Maker said. "There was a lot of popping."

"You could hear some popping and some small explosions," said Freyleue. "The flames were spectacular. There was definitely detonation going on."

Heat from the fire was so intense it damaged Ipswich's ladder truck, melting some plastic fittings and connections when the boat shop building collapsed.

Debris from the fire fell into neighboring Ipswich River, but Howe said there was no major environmental damage.

The Coast Guard put out booms to contain any contamination, and an environmental cleanup company was on the scene.

In all, Maker said six engines and two ladder trucks fought the fire, with mutual aid coming from most surrounding communities including Rowley, Essex, Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham, Beverly and Newburyport.

The U.S. Coast Guard also sent a 25-foot boat to patrol the river and make sure there were no victims in the river.

Ipswich's two engine companies and ladder truck "were fully committed," Maker said.