Movers and Shakers: Who’s Selling, Who’s Buying

The off-season on Martha’s Vineyard is often peppered with news of real estate transactions and speculation. As we go into the summer, we’ve been following the buzz about some Hollywood celebs, noted journalists and writers, and one of the most famous musicians of the moment.


The Walter Cronkite estate: Bought by the late CBS news anchor in 1974 for $175,700 and sold by his heirs for $11.3 million in January, the waterfront estate at 40 Green Hollow Road in Edgartown features a circa-1929 Dutch colonial home with six bedrooms on 1.3 acres. New owners David and Karen Brush of London, summer visitors since the mid-1980s, say they plan to keep intact the character of the relatively simple home.

Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan: Although these longtime seasonal residents sold their home at 4 Windy Hill Road in Aquinnah privately to their pal, former Boston Bruins hockey star Cam Neely, for $2.35 million last November, the acting duo is expected to remain regular guests at Tracy’s parents’ home in Aquinnah.

On the market

Mike and Mary Wallace: The former CBS news anchor and original 60 Minutes correspondent, now ninety-three, and his wife have listed their waterfront compound at 48 Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven for $7.8 million. Rich in history, the six- bedroom, five-bath, 1.4-acre beachfront estate was owned previously by the late Kingman Brewster Jr., former president of Yale University and ambassador to Great Britain. Listing broker June Flake of Viewpoints Real Estate highlights the property’s quintessential Vineyard character, sweeping water views, private beach, dock, and proximity to town, golf, and yacht club.

Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz: These Pulitzer Prize–winning writers have put their classic 1840s Greek revival landmark at 114 Main Street in downtown Vineyard Haven on the market for $2.2 million. Listing broker Mark Jenkins of Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty notes the vantage point overlooking Owen Park offers water views, and the house has seven bedrooms with en suite baths – ample quarters for family and guests. But don’t worry, the prolific pair isn’t leaving the Island: They bought a 1700s house on nearly five acres in bucolic West Tisbury for a cool $3 mil.

Other celebrity tidbits

While the Island is agog over the possibility of musical talent Lady Gaga buying on-Island, some other transactions and listings are worth noting. Actress Amy Brenneman and her hubby, director Bradley Silberling, purchased a place on Tisbury Great Pond for $4.3 million last November. The Makonikey waterfront property owned by filmmaker Peter Farrelly and wife Melinda is on the market for $5.5 million (but the pair appears to be holding onto their Indian Hill house in West Tisbury). Other properties we’re keeping an eye on include the Chappy estate of Dick Ebersol, recently resigned chairman of NBC’s sports and Olympics coverage, and the Edgartown home of the late Academy Award–winning actress Patricia Neal.

Q: As of September 30, 2011, the federal government is slated to pull the plug on backing jumbo mortgages. For the last three years, federal agencies have guaranteed new mortgages as large as $729,750 in high-end markets, including Martha’s Vineyard. Experts quoted in the national media fear that this withdrawal will lead to more price drops and foreclosures, fewer buyers, and higher interest rates. How is this change likely to affect the Island market?

A: According to both Brad Egan, executive vice president of Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, and Dee Lander, vice president of marketing and a residential loan officer for the Edgartown National Bank, buyers who rely on these Island banks should anticipate business as usual. Both banks typically keep jumbo and super-jumbo mortgages in their own portfolios and have not relied on selling them off to government agencies. Tom Wallace, principal at Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty, points out that many higher-end properties on the Island are purchased with cash.