The Vineyard real estate market, normally strong, has rocketed upward since the start of the pandemic, with dramatic sale price increases and broad reordering as urban buyers gravitate toward the Island, driving median home sales to all-time highs.

According to data compiled by LINK, the Island’s multiple-listings service, the Vineyard has seen new records for 2020 for median home sale prices in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury, as well as record median land sale prices in Edgartown.

The Islandwide median land sale price of $550,000 is also a new record, according to LINK. And the Islandwide median home price has shot up from $875,000 in 2019 to a new record of $1,035,243 in 2020 — an 18 per cent increase.

“What’s really interesting to me is not necessarily the number of sales, but the difference in the median pricing,” said Eleanor Wilson, client services manager for LINK on the Island. “And that is the part is that is absolutely amazing to me.” Although those numbers can change as 2020 comes to a close, Debra Taylor, LINK’s president, said the current 18 per cent increase is unprecedented when compared with the two or three per cent increases of years past.

“I can’t stress enough how significant that increase is,” Ms. Taylor said. “We’ve never seen such a double-digit increase in the median selling price.”

Data from LINK also shows that the volume of home sales has increased by more than 10 per cent in 2020, and a large number of homes are under agreement, even as the Covid-19 crisis effectively shuttered the market for a month in mid-March and dozens of buyers walked out on sales. The quick realization that the pandemic was here to stay, allowing people to work from home and families to uproot their mainland lives, gave the Vineyard unique value and jolted the market out of its brief period of somnolence, according to LINK and Island brokers.

“It has made people refocus on buying, and not putting off their dream of owning on the Vineyard,” said third-generation up-Island broker Julie Flanders of Flanders Real Estate. “It has increased the volume of sales, and it has increased the sale price too at this point.”

Hesitant buyers finally had a reason to act when the pandemic hit — and for people with the money, the real estate market posed a possibly safer investment than the stock market, especially on the Island, brokers said.

“I am pleased that people see the Vineyard as a safe haven,” Ms. Flanders said. “For them personally, and for putting their money here too. We’re lucky to be in this situation.”

The increase in Vineyard home prices comes as real estate sales in Boston and other urban centers have seen dramatic decreases since the pandemic began. According to LINK data for Boston, that market saw a 47 per cent decrease in sales over the first two quarters of 2020, and a 64 per cent decrease in the luxury market, Ms. Taylor said.

“The news here isn’t that sales are up,” she said. “The news is that people are flocking here during a pandemic.”

Douglas Reece, a longtime broker who works with Re/Max in Vineyard Haven, said the market generally fluctuates in approximately eight-year cycles. The most recent upturn occurred in 2012 after the financial market crash four years prior, making 2020 particularly portentous.

“In 2020, we thought we were going to see a downturn or a leveling in the market. Then Covid hit, and we had two weeks of nothing, because everybody was in such a panic,” Mr. Reece said. “But after two weeks, the phone started ringing, and there became evidence that this was going to be a very good year.”

Home sales began to flow in, Mr. Reece said. Inventory quickly dried up. Interest rates went down to three per cent. Properties that went on the market didn’t stay there long. Properties that had languished on the market for years finally sold. And a new system of home sales started, with brokers beefing up websites, virtual tours dominating the landscape and a few wealthy clients even buying properties sight-unseen — a rarity in second-home markets.

The Island’s market floor became an elevator. The market ceiling stayed in the clouds. And the numbers quickly reflected the change, showing a jump in price and home sales that began approximately a month after the pandemic emergency orders. There are 263 properties that have come under agreement since April 1 of this year — 71 more than the same time period last year. And after a slow first quarter, the second quarter saw a 44 per cent increase in median home sale price from 2019.

Those numbers have carried through during the summer, shifting a market that is accustomed to shoulder season peaks and summer season valleys. Ms. Wilson said the changes have reverberated across the Island market. More than five per cent of homes are selling for more than the asking price. Ninety-five per cent of homes have asking prices above $500,000, she said. “It’s all just been a little bit insane,” Ms. Wilson said. “The demand is increasing. The amount of things going on market is increasing. The pricing is just astronomical. And the date on market is decreasing . . . It’s overwhelming.”

Mr. Reece said a new kind of family buyer has entered the market, looking at Vineyard property as a long-term prospect, with questions about Wifi, home office space and whether they can get their children in school.

“That’s a real trend,” Mr. Reece said. “One day last week, I had five viewings of one of my listings. Three of the five people were people from urban areas, who were wanting to get here, to move here, to get their kids in school. That was one day, and one property. Not everybody shares their story . . . But I was like, holy cow.”

Ms. Taylor said the shifting buyer demographic has even prompted some brokers to coin a new vernacular for what used to be called second homes.

“The term that people are using now for these Vineyard purchases, is that they are purchasing secondary-primary homes,” Ms. Taylor explained. “Yes, they are secondary homes, but they are secondary homes being used to function as a primary residence. That’s the new lingo that agents are using.”

The largest jump in home sales has occurred in the $1 million to $2 million range, according to data from LINK, putting even more pressure on the lower end of the market and squeezing out first-time buyers looking for homes in the $500,000 or less range. The changes have served to accelerate an upward trend in the market that has occurred over the past 10 years.

In 2010, 40 per cent of sales were under $500,000. In 2020, that number has dwindled to less than five per cent, and has decreased every year since 2014. Home sales in the $1 million to $2 million range made up about 20 per cent of sales in 2010, and now make up around 40 per cent of sales.

There are currently only three “very conservative” homes on the market for less than $600,000, Ms. Wilson said.

“What we’re seeing is the bottom end of the market is just climbing,” she said, adding: “Six hundred thousand dollars used to get you two bedrooms, three bathrooms on half an acre. You’re not getting anywhere near that until you get in the seven hundreds or the eight hundreds now.”

The top end of the market has seen a shift too. Speaking anecdotally, Ms. Taylor said two of the largest sales in Edgartown this quarter — one at Cape Pogue, and one in downtown Edgartown were cash transactions. Both of the high-end properties had been on the market for more than three years without offer, she said.

The property in downtown Edgartown, a combination of 22 Pease Point Way South and 11 Tilton Way, sold for more than $9 million during the middle of the pandemic. It has no waterfront access. But it does have Wifi, furniture and a pool.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the news about the de-migration from the city,” Ms. Wilson said. “I think we’re seeing it.”

The story has been updated to correct the address of the property in Edgartown that sold for more than $9 million.