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Cape Cod Area

Market Trends and Analysis - Part 3

    Our goal in this series is it to help you understand how we interpret markets on the Cape and how this informs our recommendations when developing pricing strategies.  In this installment we will be evaluating a specific market - single family homes on the water, Barnstable to Orleans (Homes on Water Bodies & Homes on Beaches). Immediately we notice some relevant trends.

    First the median sales price for these homes is much higher than the Barnstable County median at $1,200,000, yet take far longer to sell with a median days on market of 95 (and an average of 231).  To be fair these are expensive waterfront homes, occupy a smaller market niche, and ultimately take longer to sell.  We also see, based on the bar graph at left, that the group of fastest selling homes (43 days or less) sell for 94% of the asking price - as compared to Brewster in Part 2, those fastest selling homes did so in 25 days or less with 99% of the asking price. 

    Getting back to the waterfront case study, the homes that take longest to sell require price reductions on the order of 12% off the original asking price and only sell for 79% of the original asking price.  What we see here is that people tend to price waterfront homes very aggressively (high) and require significant reductions before they sell.  Furthermore these homes are sold for far less than the original asking price as well as the current asking price - something to think about if you are in the market for a $1,000,000 home on the water.  Consider also that many of these sellers have a price in mind and are willing, can afford, and believe that waiting will get their asking price; however, as is evident in the data, waiting longer does not return a higher sale price.

    We discovered one more interesting thing here.  When analyzing certain markets it is useful to know how square footage affects sale price - and it may not be what you think.  In this market (and this is not always the case) the larger the home the fewer dollars per square foot ($/sqft) it returns.  Using the trend line on the graph we would predict that a 9000sqft home would sell for about $500/sqft whereas a 1000sqft home would sell for closer to $600/sqft.  Mind this is a loose relationship but it is a trend that reappears in many markets.  The takeaway?  Larger waterfront homes are having a harder time selling than smaller ones - price reductions may be warranted earlier in developing a sales strategy.

  Check back next time for our final part in the series: some long term analyses.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Contractor

Fall is a great time to consider more significant home improvements including bathroom and kitchen remodeling, exterior residing and shingling, and landscaping upgrades and improvements.  With the holidays still months away many projects can be completed before guests, turkeys, and trees begin occupying your time.  If your project is a more significant undertaking, you can at least begin a conversation so that improvements can be done next year.  With this in mind here are our top five considerations when hiring a contractor.

1. ASK AROUND

The most significant way to spare yourself a headache down the road is to ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences.  If you notice quality craftsmanship at a dinner party, ask about the responsible contractor; if exterior repairs and painting look stunning, check for signs in the yard; if landscaping is exquisite... well, you get the idea.  If someone comes highly recommended they more than likely do a great job.  The trim pictured at left should raise a red flag if newer construction; in this case, this is 30 years old and in an outdoor shower, we figure we'll cut the builder some slack.

2. GET REFERENCES AND EXAMPLES OF WORK

A good contractor will stand by their work so ask to see examples (particularly of older work to determine longevity).  If a contractor does a dynamite paint job that in two years is chipping away, consider going elsewhere; also be aware that interior work is difficult to see in occupied homes but you can always ask the contractor - as should be obvious, inviting yourself onto others' property is inappropriate.  If you don't like the work they do, don't use them.  We love the custom tile work at 9 Osborn Snow Drive in East Dennis, pictured at right, as well as so much more in this luxury home.

3. EXPECT A WRITTEN CONTRACT

While operating on a handshake is doable, writing down your specific agreement insures both you and the contractor know what is expected.  Written contracts can easily be appended in the event of changes so don't think they lock you into an immutable arrangement (also four months is a long time to remember whether the painter was responsible for trim on the dog house or not).  Our advice - make sure 'clean-up' is well defined and a part of any agreement.

4. GET MULTIPLE BIDS

Too often people go with the first offer without considering other bids - this is a mistake.  Furthermore asking for bids from multiple contractors informs one of the most important things about them, their timeliness.  Frequently we make four or five calls for a job and receive only two calls back.  No matter how highly recommended someone is they don't win points by being hard to reach, late with offers, or otherwise discourteous in any way.

5. BE REASONABLE AND PATIENT

Even excellent contractors can't make every deadline and there are plenty of legitimate reasons why something may not go as expected.  Good contractors are busy and may not be able to work with you for months, or even years.  In addition, when you are working with someone don't expect that they will be able to do everything today, be understanding with reasonable delays, and be kind.  If things aren't going as expected then you can always refer to your written contract about how to end the work.  In fact, the land at 196 Baxter Street, South Dennis - pictured at left - has been on a contractors docket for nearly 15 years, but we are constantly reassured a house will be built any day now (just kidding of course.  But give us a call if you are interested in this land...it is a lot to love.)

 

If you have any questions about how home improvements affect your property in the market feel free to contact us today, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Things to do in the Fall on Cape Cod

Ask Agnes Vol IV: Fall on Cape Cod

Cape Cod Chatelains: "Can you believe, Agnes, that Labor day is almost here and fall is just around the corner?"

Agnes: "Unbelievable.  I love the summer on Cape Cod but fall is fantastic for a lot of different reasons."

CCC: "That certainly makes my next question easy...what do you love about fall Agnes?"

A: "First and foremost I love this time of year; days are warm, nights are cool and the weather is dry.  Outside activities are a treat and I particularly love birding in the fall.  Between South Beach in Chatham and the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary the outer Cape abounds with spectacular fall species.  Many of the marshes in Dennis and Harwich (Like Crowes Pasture and Bell's Neck) are also excellent places to see migrants as they prepare for their journeys.  I also enjoy listening to Mark Faherty's bird report on the local NPR station WCAI."

CCC: "Great thoughts thanks Agnes.  What else do you love about fall?"

A: "Well, I love the hustle and bustle of the summer season but I also love being able to drive around again and take advantage of the summer amenities that are still open, and largely quiet.  This is still a great time of year to enjoy a meal outside at one of the many fine establishments on the Cape...and without having to wait 45 minutes for a table!  The Cape Dining Review has some excellent suggestions that are frequently updated.  The weather is so wonderful that I really enjoy getting a chowder or a sandwich and sitting on an empty beach for lunch (and sometimes going for a quick dip as well since the water is still delightful).  There are so many beautiful beaches and, while a busy summer beach on a hot day is great, I like the cool quiet beaches of the fall too. "

CCC: "Very poetic Agnes, you are a romantic aren't you?"

A: "    "

CCC: "Anything else great about fall?"

End of the seasonA: "Well you can't think about fall on Cape Cod without at least mentioning that we live in New England, which has the market cornered on amazing fall activities.  It is easy to forget how close Cape Cod is to the rest of the world and, as much as we love spending time here, it is great to have a change of scenery every now and again.  Go apple picking, enjoy a hayride, view spectacular foliage, relish a drive off-Cape, see a witch in Salem, really the list is endless.  In fact here are some great ideas for things to do throughout Massachusetts. "

Well thank you again Agnes, we are lucky to have your decades of experiences here on Cape Cod.  As always, please contact us with any questions about your real estate needs, we are happy to help.

 

Cape Cod Open Houses August 12th and 13th

 

We have three excellent open houses this weekend as well as numerous others throughout the Cape.  We are featuring the wonderful property on 9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis.  From the fruit orchard, to the steam shower, the outdoor pizza oven and the sprawling deck, everything about this home exudes luxury.  Perfect for entertaining family and friends this spacious home will knock your socks off.  $2,075,000.

 

Additionally, at 28 O'Connor Lane, South Dennis, we have a beautiful 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch including a partially finished walk-out basement, 1 car garage, first floor master bedroom with en suite bathroom, bright sun-room and new engineered wood floors.  This is close to the shopping at Patriot Square, route 6, the newly updated Cape Cod Rail Trail and so much more. $369,000

 

 

Finally, at 5 Sebastian Way, South Yarmouth, a beautifully kept 3 bedroom 2 bath saltbox is not to be missed.  This one has a fresh kitchen and two updated full baths, a back deck and an outdoor shower to rinse off after a full day at one of the many beautiful Yarmouth beaches.  $329,000

 

 

For a list of all upcoming open houses in the Cape Cod area, please follow this link.  And, as always, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions

Homeownership on Cape Cod Part III

We have just introduced a new informational page on the website, 'Homeownership on Cape Cod'.  We will be adding more information to it in the future, but for now here is the third part of that page with some useful information regarding basements, sump pumps and dirt roads.  As always contact us for information about both buying and selling on Cape Cod.

 

Basements and Sump Pumps

   Cape Cod's proximity to the ocean is part of what makes it such a treasured and wonderful place to live.  The water that makes up our aquifer floats on the saltwater and, when the groundwater is high, can be seen in basements.  When the Cape was first settled basements were dug by hand and, as a result, often were shallow or limited to root cellars under only a portion of the house and many antiques on Cape Cod still feature these stonewalled and circular cellars close to kitchens.  As development progressed and heating requirements changed from hearths to furnaces, the 'Cape Cod Basement' was born.  In these instances a small section of the basement is accessible from an exterior bulkhead and is often deep enough to stand in.  These smaller areas sometimes feature furnaces, water heaters, oil tanks, washing machines or dryers - whereas the rest of the basement is frequently an earthen floor and only small enough in which to crawl, affectionately known as a 'crawl space'.  Another commonly seen aspect of basements on Cape Cod are sump pumps which act to keep the groundwater below the floor of the basement.  Like any appliance these should be maintained and specifically checked after significant rain storms and during the spring.  

 

Dirt Roads and Wooden Bridges

    The Cape’s rural past still has other remnants including dirt roads, wooden bridges and low bridges.  Picturesque examples of wooden bridges can be seen crossing Bell’s Neck Road and North Road (the walking bridge pictured at right) in Harwich, and the bridge to Lieutenant’s Island in Welfleet.  

   

    Living on a dirt road comes with the advantages that the traffic is limited generally to locals and the poetic benefit of being able to say ‘turn down the dirt road’ when inviting friends to dinner.  

 

Airbnb, Mountain Towns and Cape Cod

    We think this article by Tom Vanderbilt at Outsideonline is particularly poignant.  While it characterizes a mountain town in Colorado the parallels to Cape Cod are astounding.  Vanderbilt describes how the growing trend in short term rentals through companies like Airbnb is slowly eliminating potential housing for residents.  The problem is one of economics: if you can own a home in a desirable area, why would you rent it on a long term basis - yearly for example - when you can rent it on a short-term basis, through a company like Airbnb, and generate more income?  Vanderbilt follows a local father struggling to make ends meet, working multiple jobs, and worrying about where he will live when the tourist season starts...sound familiar?  What makes the Cape such a great place to live also makes it a great place to vacation and it is difficult to dissuade a homeowner from the extra income potential.

    On Cape Cod we are finding that more and more homes are being rented just for the summer, making them unavailable for long term lease seekers.  In fact, in response to the decreasing supply of affordable housing on Cape Cod, CCYP is holding a design competition for architects (see the brochure here).  The contest encourages a repeatable homes design balancing 'affordability, utility, adaptability, durability and suitability for the target demographic (young professionals, working families, year round residents).'  Other initiatives on Cape Cod seek to remove restrictions on building and renting accessory dwelling units (more commonly known as in-law apartments) to increase the amount of available housing.  This link comes from the local MLS on Cape Cod and describes the problem well.

    While the economy plays a large roll in housing trends on Cape Cod we are curious to see where the future will lead.  On one side of the coin locals will be increasingly priced out of the market and the Cape will be a resort where service personnel commute from less expensive housing elsewhere.  On the other side of the coin the development of Cape Cod will find a balance between the tourist economy that sustains the region and more permanent solutions.

If you are interested in learning more about housing on Cape Cod and buying or selling property please contact us today with your questions.

 

Homeownership on Cape Cod Part II

We have just introduced a new informational page on the website, 'Homeownership on Cape Cod'.  We will be adding more information to it in the future, but for now here is the second part of that page with some useful information on septic systems, building norms and utilities.  As always contact us for information about both buying and selling on Cape Cod.

 

Cape Cod Homeownership

Septic Systems

    One very common and sometimes befuddling aspect of local homeownership on Cape Cod relates to septic systems.  Put simply these are systems that collect wastewater from the home, separate solids from liquids, and leech the liquids back through a natural soil filter into the ground.  For more information on septic systems please check out some of these useful links

Local Building and Construction in Brief

    Regarding construction on Cape Cod, the traditional 'Cape' style house (pictured with red painted clapboards) stems from a New England style of utter utilitarianism.  The fairly high pitched roof prevented the crushing weight of heavy snowfall from collapsing the building and the upstairs bedrooms meant the heat would rise upstairs to make sleeping more comfortable.  You can find 'Half Capes' and full Capes all over, though many have seen additions or dormers added to increase usable space.  Most construction on Cape Cod is wooden framed with cedar shingles or clapboards for siding and pitched asphalt roofs.  Some homes also have red cedar shingling on the roof.  We have a graphic here, that does a phenomenal job of illustrating the elements of homes.  

Utilities

    A fact of life on Cape Cod (as with anywhere) is the occasional power outage.  Cape Cod, being a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, receives a number of storms during the year, particularly during the winter.  Affectionately known as Nor'easters from the direction of the wind, these storms can cause some damage to the unprepared house.

Homeownership on Cape Cod Part I

We have just introduced a new informational page on the website, 'Homeownership on Cape Cod'.  We will be adding more information to it in the future, but for now here is the first part of that page with some useful town and county information.  As always contact us for information about both buying and selling on Cape Cod.

 

Cape Cod has so much to offer residents.  Our guide to homeownership in this beautiful region provides information for current residents and prospective homeowners.  An excellent place to begin is the Barnstable County government website that includes numerous resources and services for residents and property owners.  To highlight a few:

  • Cape Cod Commission: "The Cape Cod Commission (CCC) is the regional land use planning, economic development, and regulatory agency created in 1990 to serve the citizens and 15 towns of Barnstable County, Massachusetts."
  • Cape Cod Cooperative Extension: The education department for Barnstable County including excellent resources for planting and maintaining local plants, tick mitigation and much more.
Barnstable County Taxes 2017

Assessed Values

Chamber of Commerce School District
Barnstable (town) $9.54 Assessor Town, Hyannis  Barnstable
Bourne $10.30 Assessor Cape Cod Canal Bourne
Brewster $8.39 Assessor Town Nauset
Chatham $5.03 Assessor Town Monomoy
Dennis $6.15 Assessor Town D-Y
Eastham $7.90 Assessor Town Nauset
Falmouth $8.53 Assessor Town Falmouth
Harwich $8.97 Assessor Town Monomoy
Mashpee $9.08 Assessor Town Mashpee
Orleans $6.33 Assessor Town Nauset
Provincetown $7.71 Assessor Town Elementary, HS
Sandwich $14.93 Assessor Cape Cod Canal Sandwich
Truro $6.98 Assessor Town Nauset
Wellfleet $6.78 Assessor Town Nauset
Yarmouth $10.02 Assessor Town D-Y

 

Town & County Specific Information

    Each town on Cape Cod hosts a website with a variety of information ranging from beach and transfer station sticker information, to events and town committee agendas. We pulled out the county's and each town's website, taxes, assessed values and field cards, local chambers of commerce, and school districts.

Barnstable County houses a registry of deeds, in the town of Barnstable, on route 6A.  Here you can discover much about the ownership record, title history and liens on properties as well as much more.  Don't be discouraged by the nuanced interface, the county employees are helpful in person and over the phone.  As an interesting side note, the first ninety-four volumes recorded at the registry were lost in a catastrophic fire in 1827.  As a result, some of the property history is still in land court if instruments could not be re-recorded.  So don't be discouraged if you can't find what you are looking for, just check in 'land court' instead of the 'recorded land'.

 

Cape Cod Fireworks Parades and Concerts 2017

Cape Cod is a great place to spend the summer.  In addition to a day at the beach, why not spend an evening enjoying one of the many displays of fireworks across the Cape?  Or take in an evening concert.  Also don't forget the numerous parades on the 4th of July.  Check out the CapeCod.com list and free concerts from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and see our additions below.  We will be updating this as we gather new information so check back again!

Fireworks

July 2nd

Orleans
Rain date July 6th
Time: Dusk
Place: Rock Harbor

July 4th

Falmouth
Time: Dusk
Place: Falmouth Heights Beach

Hyannis
Rain date September 2, 2017
Time: Dusk
Place: Lewis Bay

Provincetown
Time: Dusk
Place: MacMillan Wharf

August 26th

Dennis
Time: 7pm
Place: West Dennis Beach

 

Parades

July 4th

Orleans
Time: 10am

Wellfleet
Time: Antique Cars at 9:30am – Float Parade at 10am
Location: Start at the Town Pier

Sandwich Boat Parade
Time: 9pm
Location: Shawme Pond

July 8th

Chatham Boat Parade
Time:12:30-1:30pm
Location: Start and end at Stage Harbor, turning around at Oyster Pond Beach

 

Concerts

Dennis Port
Time: 6pm
Location: Dennis Port Village Green: Hall St
Tuesdays 7/11 - 8/8
Thursdays 7/6 - 7/27

Orleans
Location: Various - Village Green, Parish Park, Main St Square, Art Cottages, Orleans Marketplace
Tuesdays 7/11 - 8/15
Check out the Chamber's Facebook Events Page or the webpage for the chamber for more information

Sponsored by TD Bank

 

Things to do in Brewster, Cape Cod MA

Ask Agnes: Vol II

Again we find ourselves looking for some wonderful things to do on Cape Cod.  This time our 'Ask Agnes' feature explores Brewster and some of its hidden (or sometimes overlooked) gems.

Cape Cod Chatelains: 'Hey Agnes, the kids are driving me nuts, what can I do with them?'

Agnes: 'First and foremost is the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Museum of Natural History This treasure located right on route 6A in Brewster contains a variety of fascinating and enriching exhibits and nature trails.  I especially like to check out the bees which have a hive sandwiched between two pieces of glass so that you can watch them at work.  When I get tired of being inside the miles of walking trails are a wonderful respite.  Travelling over the marsh, through the woods and all the way to the Bay they are an education in the local biology and geology with every step.  If the kids need to get out some wiggles the summer program and Mudflat Mania! are both great opportunities for the kids to have a great time and learn something to boot.'

CCC: 'Sounds great.  Is anything else close to there?'

Paines CreekA: 'I'm glad you asked.  Just on the east side of the marsh is Paines Creek Landing and Beach. This beach generally does not get as swamped with people as some of the other beaches around (but as always get there early).  In addition the 'creek' which is tidal, is a blast for riding with the tide on a tube.  The current can rip through there though, so keep an eye on young ones.  GristmillWhat is truly fascinating is that Paines Creek (its name North of 6A) is also Stony Brook (its name south of 6A) and, in the spring, herring swim against the current to Mill Pond to spawn.  You can enjoy this natural spectacle at the Stony Brook Grist Mill, which is a truly magical site, also...'

 

CCC: 'Wow, there is a lot to do in a small space!'

A: 'Hold on I wasn't finished.  Also you can go to Drummer Boy Park and enjoy the playground.  At different times the Brewster Historical Society holds events here (along with a lot of other groups) and you should be sure to go when the windmill and the blacksmith are open.'

CCC: 'Wonderful, as usual we are dually impressed with your knowledge of the area.  Thanks Agnes.'

A: 'I have a lot more to say about Brewster though!  It's such a great town!'

 

Well thank you again Agnes, we are lucky to have your decades of experiences here on Cape Cod.  Also see our previous blog about places to walk your dog as there are some references to Brewster locations in there too.  As always, please contact us with any questions about your real estate needs, we are happy to help.

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Client Testimonials

I was faced with selling a house on Cape Cod as part of my father's estate. It felt like a difficult task since I live in Buffalo, NY. Agnes handled everything long-distance through phone, and email. She sold the property quite quickly at a great price and handled the closing without a hitch.  

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