Blog

After more than 25 years of living, working and playing on Cape Cod we have a lot to share about the area.  Our blog topics run the gamut from fun things to do, working with contractors, and homeownership tips and tricks, so check back frequently to see what's new.  If you have questions or would like to learn more about Cape Cod or owning property on this beautiful peninsula please contact us for more information and to set up a showing for any listing. 

Open Houses Memorial Day Weekend 2018

We have three excellent open houses this memorial day weekend.  If you are interested in any of these homes or to learn more about any other open houses on the Cape, contact us today.

 

Saturday 1-3 | 9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | $1,895,000

Enjoy bird watching in spring and fireworks over Cape Cod Bay on the 4th of July from the spacious custom crafted home. The setting has character that is un-matched with expansive views of Quivet Neck, lush grounds, and easy access to Crowes Pasture, Cold Storage and Sea Street Beaches--a most sought after location in East Dennis. The home's flow is inviting and gracious with three gas fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, and sparkling floors. There are outstanding entertainment areas from gourmet kitchen, outdoor brick oven, and large deck to gracious dining room. For work-at-home folks the private office cannot be beat. This is a one-of-a-kind lovely home that offers more than the ordinary.

Saturday 1-3 | 1685 Hyannis Rd, Barnstable Village | $949,000

Two homes on one lot! This 1.67 acre estate consists of a tastefully renovated gracious main house plus guest cottage in a verdant setting. Situated in Barnstable Village and less than a mile from Millway Beach this property is currently unmatched, yet still has room for expansion. How about a tennis court, swimming pool, or bocce ball court? The possibilities are endless. The main house boasts a gourmet kitchen, beautiful hearth with an elegant custom mantle, gleaming wood floors, renovated baths with river-stone tile, butler's pantry converted into a dignified office, nooks and crannies galore. The detached one bedroom guest cottage with its beautiful floors and window wrapped den, along with the main house, make this versatile property perfect for large gatherings and summer soirees. Your imagination will delight when you encounter the outdoor fire pit, travertine patio, gardens, green house and fruit trees. All of these are just a minute to coffee shops, restaurants, post office, galleries, and village market. The renovations undertaken since 2003 include new kitchen, baths, windows, furnace, hot water heaters, roof, painted interior and exterior, to name a few. The landscaping is beautiful and allows for simplicity or formality. This is a one of a kind property to be proud of and love.

Monday 10-12 | 438 Main St, Osterville | $629,000

Set yourself apart from the ordinary. This unique & refined home is to be enjoyed in summer and year long. Just minutes to Fancy's Market, library, post office, galleries, coffee & brunch; or to Dowses Beach for sunny walk or cooling dip; or launch a kayak down East Bay to Centerville River. This home is tastefully renovated with versatile floor plan ideal for entertaining. The heart of the home features a family room/kitchen combination that spills onto the large gracious sun room, deck & patio. The living room with lovely bay window is set apart allowing for intimate chats. 2 of the bedrooms each have private baths. There is additional large sleeping areas with half bath for visitors. The home is air conditioned throughout. Plenty of parking for guests. This is what life is all about.

Open Houses 5/19-5/20

We have four excellent open houses this weekend and predictions of fair weather so don't miss out.  If you are interested in any of these homes or to learn more about any other open houses on the Cape, contact us today.

Sunday 1-3 | 9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | $1,895,000 | Sweeping Views

Enjoy bird watching in spring and fireworks over Cape Cod Bay on the 4th of July from the spacious custom crafted home. The setting has character that is un-matched with expansive views of Quivet Neck, lush grounds, and easy access to Crowes Pasture, Cold Storage and Sea Street Beaches--a most sought after location in East Dennis. The home's flow is inviting and gracious with three gas fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, and sparkling floors. There are outstanding entertainment areas from gourmet kitchen, outdoor brick oven, and large deck to gracious dining room. For work-at-home folks the private office cannot be beat. This is a one-of-a-kind lovely home that offers more than the ordinary.

 

Sunday 10-12 | 1685 Hyannis Rd, Barnstable Village | $949,000 | House & Cottage

Two homes on one lot! This 1.67 acre estate consists of a tastefully renovated gracious main house plus guest cottage in a verdant setting. Situated in Barnstable Village and less than a mile from Millway beach this property is currently unmatched, yet still has room for expansion. How about a tennis court, swimming pool, or bocce ball court? The possibilities are endless. The main house boasts a gourmet kitchen, beautiful hearth with an elegant custom mantle, gleaming wood floors, renovated baths with river-stone tile, butler's pantry converted into a dignified office, nooks and crannies galore. The detached one bedroom guest cottage with its beautiful floors and window wrapped den, along with the main house, make this versatile property perfect for large gatherings and summer soirees. Your imagination will delight when you encounter the outdoor fire pit, travertine patio, gardens, green house and fruit trees. All of these are just a minute to coffee shops, restaurants, post office, galleries, and village market. The renovations undertaken since 2003 include new kitchen, baths, windows, furnace, hot water heaters, roof, painted interior and exterior, to name a few. The landscaping is beautiful and allows for simplicity or formality. This is a one of a kind property to be proud of and love.

Saturday 1-3 | 438 Main St, Osterville | $629,000 | Singular Layout

Set yourself apart from the ordinary. This unique & refined home is to be enjoyed in summer and year long. Just minutes to Fancy's Market, library, post office, galleries, coffee & brunch; or to Dowses Beach for sunny walk or cooling dip; or launch a kayak down East Bay to Centerville River. This home is tastefully renovated with versatile floor plan ideal for entertaining. The heart of the home features a family room/kitchen combination that spills onto the large gracious sun room, deck & patio. The living room with lovely bay window is set apart allowing for intimate chats. 2 of the bedrooms each have private baths. There is additional large sleeping areas with half bath for visitors. The home is air conditioned throughout. Plenty of parking for guests. This is what life is all about.

Saturday 10-12 | 56 Clear Brook Rd, West Yarmouth | Extra Large Lot

This excellent starter, retirement or vacation home is conveniently located with easy access to shopping, beaches, and amenities. It is very well maintained and offers a nice floor plan with two bedrooms, granite counters, wood floors, newer windows, newer roof, Hardie plank siding, Azek trim, air conditioning, top of the line heating system including on-demand hot water, Generac generator, a large half acre private yard, garage and full basement. Bring your colors and love this sweet surprise that awaits you.

Best Shellfishing Spots on Cape Cod

Courtesy of C Dannhauser

Spring makes us love the Cape for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which is the warming weather and water.  Warmer water means that we no longer need to worry about hypothermia when participating in one of the best Cape Cod activities, shellfishing.  Each town has unique regulations and areas that are open and closed depending on the season.  Check out the listings below for more details in your town.  We also provide one or two suggestions of our favorite places but we suggest you find your own!

 Town information  Our Favorite Spot (but check for seasonal closures)
Bourne Buttermilk Bay
Sandwich Mill Creek
Falmouth Waquoit Bay
Mashpee Great River south of the landing
Barnstable Scudder Lane or West Bay
Yarmouth Gray's Beach
Dennis Cove Rd (West Dennis Side)
Brewster Ellis Landing
Harwich Wychmere Harbor
Chatham Mill Creek or Oyster Pond
Orleans Little Pleasant Bay
Eastham Boat Meadow Creek
Wellfleet Indian Neck or Chipman's Cove
Truro Pamet River
Provincetown West of the Breakwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of C. Dannhauser

Open Houses 5/5-5/6

We have four excellent open houses this weekend and predictions of fair weather so don't miss out.  If you are interested in any of these homes or to learn more about any other open houses on the Cape, contact us today.

Unmatched |  9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | Sunday 1-3

Location is everything and this home has it all - expansive views of Quivet Neck conservation land as far as Cape Cod Bay, lush grounds that set the tone for the Cape Cod lifestyle and all only a stroll to Cold Storage and Sea Street Beaches. The gracious interiors cover 6600 square feet which include separate living quarters and a large private office that makes this home ideal for a professional home office. Every inch was custom crafted with low maintenance in mind. Boasting a fabulous chef's kitchen and oversized deck, entertaining is a breeze. Delight your clients with delicious treats prepared in the brick oven while enjoying the sweeping views and wine on the deck or by the fire pits. This special place features 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, sparkling wood, tile, vaulted ceilings, This is truly private and in an exceptional neighborhood. Bring your personal touches.

House with Guest Cottage |  1685 Hyannis Rd, Barnstable Village | Saturday 12-2pm

Two homes on one lot! This 1.67 acre estate consists of a tastefully renovated gracious main house plus guest cottage in a verdant setting. Situated in Barnstable Village and less than a mile from Millway beach this property is currently unmatched, yet still has room for expansion. How about a tennis court, swimming pool, or bocce ball court? The possibilities are endless. The main house boasts a gourmet kitchen, beautiful hearth with an elegant custom mantle, gleaming wood floors, renovated baths with river-stone tile, butler's pantry converted into a dignified office, nooks and crannies galore. The detached one bedroom guest cottage with its beautiful floors and window wrapped den, along with the main house, make this versatile property perfect for large gatherings and summer soirees.

 

Price Reduced! |  438 Main St, Osterville | Saturday 1-3

Set yourself apart from the ordinary. This unique & refined home is to be enjoyed in summer and year long. Just minutes to Fancy's Market, library, post office, galleries, coffee & brunch; or to Dowses Beach for sunny walk or cooling dip; or launch a kayak down East Bay to Centerville River. This home is tastefully renovated with versatile floor plan ideal for entertaining. The heart of the home features a family room/kitchen combination that spills onto the large gracious sun room, deck & patio. The living room with lovely bay window is set apart allowing for intimate chats. Two bedrooms each have private baths. There is an additional large sleeping area with half bath for visitors. The home is air conditioned throughout. Plenty of parking for guests. Take part in what life is all about.

 

Brand New to Market | 9 River Road, West Dennis | Saturday 1-3

Bring your beach balls...This Cape Cod year-round getaway with proven rental history is turnkey ready for fun with plenty of room for outdoor games. It is being sold furnished along with the booked rentals. It is nestled on a cul-de-sac and features wood floors, three bedrooms, living room with cozy fireplace, nice sized eat-in kitchen, enclosed porch, wonderful deck for barbecues, and large storage shed. The location offers easy access to warm Nantucket Sound beaches, shopping, kayaking on the Swan River, and bicycling on the Cape Cod rail trail. It is well kept, has a newer furnace, a whole house fan, and washer and dryer. This is a true gem.

Ask Agnes: Buying and Selling on Cape Cod - Part 5

Welcome back to this installment of 'Ask Agnes'.  Here we'll talk about finding a home and review an offer to purchase real estate.

"Ok Agnes, I have spoken to a reputable local bank and am pre-qualified for a purchase price of $400,000 and have a few neighborhoods in mind.  I also know I want a 3 bedroom house."

"Great, with those parameters I can keep a keen eye out for new properties that may fit your needs.  If you are interested you can do some hunting yourself by registering and saving searches on our website so that you can be notified when new properties appear.  Finding the perfect house requires an open mind and patience.  It also helps if you consider finding a great house that you can turn into a perfect house.  Finally always look a little outside of your search parameters.  For example, if you are qualified for a $400,000 purchase price, consider looking from $325,000-425,000.  Love 3 bedrooms?  Maybe 2 or 4 with better floor plans are just as suitable."

"Agnes, I have found the perfect home! What do I do now?"

"Well, before getting too excited let's let cooler heads prevail.  Are you sure you can afford the home?  Is it a good match for your needs? Is everyone on board?  If so then let's get going!  Buyers indicate their interest in a home by extending an 'Offer to Purchase Real Estate' (an offer) via real estate agents, to the owner.  Commonly offers are contingent on a number of items; home inspections, financing, review of condominium documents, passing Title V reports etc....  It is always prudent to add these contingencies now since a submitted offer, once signed, is a legally binding contract."

"What is a passing Title V report?"

"Well that's a '5', not a 'vee', but these are reports certifying that a septic system has passed a required inspection.  Because of the prevalence of septic systems on the Cape as well as the price of replacing one, this is generally written in black and white up front.  Check out our page on home-ownership for more information on septic systems and other useful info.

"What are all of these other items on the offer?"

"Well let's have a look at this example at right.  In order to keep things simple we are using standard time frames and amounts but it is important to keep in mind that these are always variable and it is rare that a closing will go through without a change to the original agreement at some point.

    "To begin the offer identifies the relevant parties, buyer(s) and seller(s) as well as the property address and the real estate agent used to introduce the buyers to the property.  Fairly standard stuff here. 

    "The purchase price identifies the total amount being offered to the seller by the buyer.  In this example, $350,000.  Offers are also accompanied by an initial earnest money deposit (line i) demonstrating the good faith and sincerity of the buyer.  This amount depends on the price of the property but $500 or $1000 is typical, although we have seen others.  When the Purchase and Sale (P&S) agreement is signed an additional deposit is expected usually bringing the total to 5% of the purchase price (line ii).  Still with me?"

"Makes sense so far"

"Great.  The next section limits the amount of time an offer lasts, usually 24 hours.  We drew up this example on May 1 so May 2 is when it would expire.  In the event an offer is rejected or expires and the parties do not wish to negotiate further, all earnest money is returned.  Frequently negotiations take longer than 24 hours and, as is customary on the Cape, negotiations in good faith can continue past the deadline.  However, it is always prudent to have things in writing.

"The next few sections identify a timeline for events, all of which change and are different depending on the needs of the parties. Generally speaking a purchase and sale agreement is set for signing two weeks after the offer, the closing is then set for 30 days after that. 

"Contingencies are important to understand.  In brief these are points that must be satisfied before a closing can occur.  If a mortgage will be used and our buyers are well qualified, pre-approved and using a reputable local bank we set the mortgage commitment for 1 week before closing (or we can set a later closing date if other factors necessitate more time, like estate sales).  We also stipulate the same day as the purchase and sale agreement for applying for a mortgage since many lenders require the P&S to truly begin the application process in detail.  Inspections are also conducted before a P&S and, can sometimes trigger renegotiation of certain points, or ideally, nothing serious is found.  Finally and very importantly is section 9, 'Additional Terms'.  Here is where the buyer can stipulate anything else they may wish to be a part of a sale.  For example homes that are a part of associations often have rules and regulations as well as financial statements associated with them, buyers should absolutely request to see these and may even consider having a lawyer review them before moving forward.  In our example the buyers want a passing Title V certificate for 3 bedroom system (it is important to specify the size of the system as they sometimes do not match the number of rooms in the house)."

"Wow thanks Agnes, that is a lot of information and I think I'll spend some time looking over this document."

Feel free to contact us with questions about buying (or selling) on the Cape and stay tuned as our next installment will finish this series on buying and selling on Cape Cod.

 

Open Houses April 21 and 22

We have three excellent open houses this weekend and, with the first prediction of clear skies in some time, will be a great weekend to get out and preview your dream home!

New Price |  9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | Sunday 1-3

Location is everything and this home has it all - expansive views of Quivet Neck conservation land as far as Cape Cod Bay, lush grounds that set the tone for the Cape Cod lifestyle and all only a stroll to Cold Storage and Sea Street Beaches. The gracious interiors cover 6600 square feet which include separate living quarters and a large private office that makes this home ideal for a professional home office. Every inch was custom crafted with low maintenance in mind. Boasting a fabulous chef's kitchen and oversized deck, entertaining is a breeze. Delight your clients with delicious treats prepared in the brick oven while enjoying the sweeping views and wine on the deck or by the fire pits. This special place features 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, sparkling wood, tile, vaulted ceilings, This is truly private and in an exceptional neighborhood. Bring your personal touches.

 

Brand new to market |  1685 Hyannis Rd, Barnstable Village | Saturday 1-3pm

Two homes on one lot! Charm best describes the tastefully renovated gracious antique main house on a 1.67 acre estate setting smack dab in Barnstable Village less than a mile from Millway beach with lovely three bedrooms, three baths. The detached one bedroom guest cottage along with the main house makes this versatile property perfect for large gatherings & summer soirees. Your imagination will explode when you encounter the outdoor fire pit, travertine patio, gardens, greenhouse and fruit trees. All this just a minute to coffee shops, restaurants, post office, galleries, and village market. Step inside the main house to find sparkling floors, gourmet kitchen, nooks and crannies at every turn. Send guests to the cottage with its beautiful floors, window wrapped den and enjoy your space. This is a sensational property with room for expansion. How about a tennis court, swimming pool, or bocce ball court? The possibilities are endless. The renovations undertaken since 2003 included new kitchen, baths, windows, furnace, hot water heaters, roof, painted interior and exterior, to name a few. The landscaping is beautiful and allows for simplicity or formality. This is one of a kind property to be proud of and to love.

 

New Price |  438 Main St, Osterville | Saturday 10-12

Set yourself apart from the ordinary. This unique & refined home is to be enjoyed in summer and year long. Just minutes to Fancy's Market, library, post office, galleries, coffee & brunch; or to Dowses Beach for sunny walk or cooling dip; or launch a kayak down East Bay to Centerville River. This home is tastefully renovated with versatile floor plan ideal for entertaining. The heart of the home features a family room/kitchen combination that spills onto the large gracious sun room, deck & patio. The living room with lovely bay window is set apart allowing for intimate chats. Two bedrooms each have private baths. There is an additional large sleeping area with half bath for visitors. The home is air conditioned throughout. Plenty of parking for guests. Take part in what life is all about.

 

If you are interested in any of these homes or to learn more about any other open houses on the Cape, contact us today.

Ask Agnes: Buying and Selling on Cape Cod - Part 4

After examining the process of selling on Cape Cod, it is now time for a buyer's perspective.  For more information on selling your home, start at Part 1 of the series here.

"OK Agnes, I am ready to buy a home on the Cape...uummmm...help?"

"That's wonderful news!  Owning a home is a dream many people want to realize and we take great pride in helping them do it.  I'll approach from the perspective of first-time homebuyers and hit relevant points for all buyers along the way."

"Got it."

"The first thing you should do is learn how much you can spend on a home.  Most people finance (get a mortgage) for real estate transactions and even if you will be buying in cash you still need to set your limits.  In the case of financing, talk to a local bank or mortgage broker who will lead you through the process of getting pre-qualified.  In short a bank evaluates your total income, liabilities and assets to help you decide how much home you can afford.  You should always do this before you even think about looking for houses for two reasons (really the same reason but with two points).  First, don't waste your time dreaming of gold-plated faucets and kids playing on the dock by looking at $900,000 waterfront homes if you won't be able to afford one.  And, just as crucially, don't waste your time looking at $200,000 homes thinking that is all you can afford when, in reality, you could qualify for a $350,000 purchase price.  Over the years we have seen both situations and with rates as low as they are these days, people are often surprised at how much they can actually afford.  When you have an idea of a reasonable price range you and your realtor can move to the next steps."

"OK.  I talked to a bank and qualify for a $350,000 purchase price. How do we get started?"

Luxury Harwich Screen Grab"Well this is an exciting point in your search for a home.  And we proceed in a lot of different ways depending on the client.  Some people are very engaged in the search and spend a lot of time driving around to find appealing neighborhoods, as well as looking online for homes of interest.  A great place to start is on our website. By signing up you can save searches and your favorite homes (check out the screen grab at left) as well as get in touch with us for an in-person viewing of listings you find interesting.  Other clients are very hands off and prefer a more curated approach in which we, as agents, present properties we think are a good match.  It is important to have a good conversation with your agent early in the process so that you are both clear on which style you prefer. We love working with both types of clients (and everything in between) and take pride in that 88% of our business comes from repeat customers or referrals from past clients."

"I've started looking, but holy cow there is a lot out there."

"First, start with locations.  If you currently live and work in Brewster why not start by searching for homes there?  Then you can narrow price range and refine the search (i.e. including garages or minimum number of bedrooms) to suit your needs.  Also you can use our 'What's New' search to keep an eye out for anything that pops up on the market that you may like but otherwise doesn't match your criteria (like a house on the Dennis and Harwich line that is two minutes from Brewster, but is otherwise exactly what you want).

Well thanks Agnes, you have given us a lot to think about and hope that some of these suggestions for buyers are useful to our readers too.  Feel free to contact us with questions about buying (or selling) on the Cape and stay tuned as our next installment will go into finding your dream home and getting an offer accepted.

Ask Agnes: Selling and Buying on Cape Cod - Part 3

In this series we examine the process of selling on Cape Cod - and don't worry, we'll get to the buying soon.  This installment includes getting from negotiation to closing.

"Hey Agnes, I finally have a good offer?  What now?"

"Congratulations!  You have been putting up with the inconveniences of showings and open houses and it has finally paid off (for an idea of the process up to this point, check out part 1 and part 2).  Now is when we work with both parties to agree on a contract for the sale.  The truth is that price is only part of what can be negotiated when selling a home.  Other items that we frequently see involved in negotiations are deferred repairs (like aging roofs, windows etc...), septics, and personal property."

"Wait, a buyer can ask me to repair my roof before they buy my house?"

Well they can certainly ask - but the outcome is negotiable.  Let me use an example: your house is on the market for $350,000 and has an aging roof.  A buyer offers $350,000 if a new roof is installed.  After some back and forth both parties agree to $340,000 without a new roof.  In this case the cost of the roof is the negotiating point and the seller will not need to install a new roof before the sale.  We can imagine that this negotiation may have started with a buyer offer of $335,000 (from a quote of $15,000 for a new roof) but the savvy seller found another quote for only $5,000.  The two parties decided to split the difference.  A main point to keep in mind as the seller is how your pricing strategy reflects the 'listing price'.  If your home has a lot of wear and tear, an aging roof, and old windows, but it was priced accordingly, then items like the roof may not be negotiated at all.  You may have seen this in homes listed in 'As Is' condition, meaning the seller isn't willing to negotiate on items related to the condition of the home.  Employing a qualified real estate agent is a great way to worry less about the details of the negotiation (that's our job).  If you are interested in a home that doesn't need anything except to put your feet up and enjoy the water view, check out this property at 13 Beachwood Rd, South Yarmouth."

"That sounds great, but what do you mean 'personal property'"

"Well, often homes are sold empty, but sometimes they are sold furnished or a few items (pianos, pool tables and kids play areas are good examples), can be a part of the negotiation and sale as well.  Negotiations that don't involve furniture or other items of personal property are often smoother.  Believe it or not negotiating several $200 items in a $350,000 sale can literally make a deal fall apart, so it helps to keep the big picture in mind. This is always a sticky situation and we recommend to our clients that the family heirloom french armoire be explicitly excluded from a sale in the listing descriptions."

"OK, we finished negotiating and agreed on terms, what next?"

"Well done.  Negotiating to this point is a challenge, but there is still a lot that needs to happen.  The most important thing to a seller is the home inspection contingency.  In this case the buyer is allowed supervised access to the home where they can have a knowledgeable professional(s) look the house over from joist to rafter.  Sometimes, buyers will pull out of a transaction based on this assessment, or they will attempt to negotiate repairs or a lower price.  Having a real estate agent on your side can help with further negotiation or identify if a contract should be terminated."

"And that's it?"

 "Not yet.  Buyers will often require financing (a mortgage) to buy a home which can take a long time to acquire (45 days or more).  Also appraisals may need to be done, along with inspections, final bills and certificates of compliance from a variety of governmental agencies.  On the seller side most of this time is spent setting up your own move while your agent works to keep everything plugging along smoothly. Finally the house will 'close' when paperwork is signed and the deed is recorded at the registry of deeds."

Thank you Agnes.  As usual we rely on your years of expertise and insight.  Our next installment will involve getting from negotiation to closing.  Feel free to contact us with questions.

Ask Agnes: Selling and Buying on Cape Cod - Part 2

In this series we examine the process of selling on Cape Cod - and don't worry, we'll get to the buying soon.  This installment includes choosing an agent and living with a listed property.

"OK Agnes, I am ready to choose an agent...what should I consider?"

    "Well, a great place to start is with interview questions to ask your agent.  Consider some points in this article on nerdwallet.com and create your questions with the goal of choosing a professional.  We suggest asking, "In which neighborhoods do you primarily work?", "Do you work full-time or part-time?", "Can I hear from your past clients?", and "How many sales did you close last year?".  An agent worth their salt should be able to answer all of those questions satisfactorily. 

    "Keep in mind that many real estate agents are part-timers or hobbyists who participate in very few deals each year.  Of the 2,712 registered agents and approximately 5,325 residential sales in 2017 you can see that 91% of agents on Cape Cod participated in fewer than one deal per month.  While we don't snub our noses at anyone working hard to make a living in a competitive industry, we strongly recommend you consider agents who have the experience and expertise that comes from doing dozens of deals each year, rather than just a handful, or none.  It may feel good to give a close friend from your book club a chance to sell your house but when it comes to six and seven figure transactions we recommend hiring professionals.  Think of it like this: chances are that the other party will be represented by one of the agents in the top 1% anyway, so set yourself up for success and make sure that your agent is not outmatched even before you start negotiating.  We'd also like to point out that the Cape Cod Chatelains are in that top 1% category (we are actually in the top 0.3%)."

"Really Agnes?  It's just a stats game?"

    "No and stop interrupting.  You have to be sure you connect with, like, and trust whomever you choose to work with.  Agents are so plentiful that you have a lot of choices - be sure you will want to work with this person, or these people for a while.  The process of selling your home can take months, and sometimes years depending on the client's needs and expectations.  Keep in mind also that we aren't just talking about how long your home spends on the market.  A good agent is going to work with you from start to finish and this process can be timely, as should any major transaction.  And be sure to ask for references - we are proud that an average of 88% of our business comes from repeat or referred clients who are always happy to speak with folks who are considering us to represent them."

"Thanks Agnes.  Now to actually having a house listed...what is that like?

    "Well again this depends on your current situation.  Needless to say it can be easier to sell a second home if it is not your primary residence because it is far less disruptive.  But let's consider a home that is occupied full time for this exercise.  First, there is generally a lot of activity when a house first hits the market.  The Cape market is heavily seller favored so there are buyers that are waiting for houses to pop up.  Literally we get calls within the first 20 minutes a listing activates.  Furthermore we schedule two different types of open houses as soon as is feasible for the seller.  First we schedule an agent open house during a work day so that local agents can preview the property.  Soon thereafter we do a weekend open house for the public so that anyone and everyone gets a chance so see the home.  It helps tremendously if the home is in tip-top shape for both of these events - clean desks, no drying dishes, fresh towels, swept, mopped, dusted, you get the idea.  From then on showings are as requested.  Keeping the house tidy and clean during this time helps it show well.  Also we love chatting with our clients about black-out times when showings are not possible (i.e. dinner or Sundays 1-3), as well as the best way to get in touch when needed.  Needless to say, when a house is on the market it can feel disruptive and intrusive to have strangers in it.  Setting some black out times is a great way to ensure your home still feels like your home, and we are happy to work with clients on which times make most sense (blocking out every day from 4:30-8 may be impossible when accommodating work schedules for example).  Additionally we always recommend that sellers leave for showings, it reduces stress for all parties and allows the buyers to make informed decisions."

Thank you Agnes.  As usual we rely on your years of expertise and insight.  Our next installment will involve getting from negotiation to closing.  Feel free to contact us with questions.

Ask Agnes: Selling and Buying on Cape Cod - Part 1

    We're back for another installment of 'Ask Agnes'.  Recently we have had a lot of interest regarding the process of selling your home on Cape Cod.  We'll start this series with the process of selling and be sure to hit relevant points to consider when listing your property including when, with whom, and why.

"Hey Agnes, should I sell my home and when should I put it on the market?"

    "'Should I sell' is probably the most important question to consider for any potential seller.  Before considering a move, research the time and cost for changing your current home into one more suited to your needs.  If you love your current location but need an extra 200 sq ft then an addition or reconfiguration may be a better idea than a move.  For more information on choosing a contractor check out our blog - 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Contractor.  However a job relocation, undesirable location, or already maximized space in your current home are all reasons that necessitate a sale.  

   "Once you have made the decision to sell, timing can be critical.  Luckily a lot of the Cape Cod market has such low inventory right now that a home priced correctly for its condition and features can sell quickly regardless of the listing start date. Additionally we ran some numbers for the previous few years and there is no significant correlation between how close you get to your original asking price and when you list your house.  However, houses that list in the early spring and late summer spend less time on the market.  And the less time your home spends on the market leads to fewer mortgage payments, electric bills, insurance (etc...) so ultimately, more money in your pocket."  

"What can I do to prepare my home (and myself) for listing?"

    "Make a plan for the future: The most important question is where will you go once your home sells?  If your home is not a primary residence then this question may already be answered, but if your home is rented it is important to make sure tenants have somewhere to go as well.  Another thing to consider is your financial situation and how long you can afford to wait for your house to sell.  The reality is that some properties take longer to sell than others but be sure you have enough money to pay all mortgages, taxes and repair bills that may come up.  Just because you are selling doesn't mean you are not responsible for putting on a new roof or repairing damage due to flooding. Working with a local agent on a pricing strategy to meet your timeline is critical.

    "Prepare the property:  While squeaky hinges and jiggly doorknobs are things we all deal with in our own homes, now is the time to address each item on the punch list (a great example of a well prepared and kept property is 9 Osborn Snow Dr, East Dennis).  You would laugh at how often some of these items are on the original inspection report from years (sometimes decades) ago when the owner bought the house.  But don't feel bad, this is the reality of owning a home (and I have a few of these items still on the list too...Ed...).  Also cleaning and appropriately staging your home highlights its best qualities.  A pile of folded clothes on the bed during a showing is not as detrimental as a three foot stack of newspaper clippings on a cluttered and dusty desk.  Unique furniture, expensive menageries, and unfinished projects don't sell houses.  Let the best of your home shine through (and finish that 10 year old jigsaw puzzle in your new house).  The same goes for landscaping.  Trim the hedges, cut the grass, weed the garden, mulch the roses.  Check out some suggestions in an older blog on exterior improvements.  Curb appeal is the second impression of your home (the first is the photos!) and cannot be underestimated in importance."

Thanks Agnes, as always we appreciate your years (but not too many) of insight into the local market.  For the next installment we'll be examining how to choose a real estate agent and what having your house listed is actually like.  As always don't hesitate to contact us with questions about all of your real estate needs.