Cape Cod Area

Cape Cod Things to do in the Fall...despite COVID

Though it’s practically treason to say so, fall -- and not summer -- is my favorite season on Cape Cod. With fair skin and a short attention span, lying on the beach all day has never been overly appealing to me. But give me a crisp autumn day wandering around in a thick sweater, sipping a hot beverage -- now you’ve got my attention!

Wing IslandUsually the Cape’s fall schedule is packed with Fests, road races, and craft fairs, but this is hardly a typical year. Still, there are plenty of ways to make the best of this quieter, cooler season!

Wellfleet’s famous OysterFest is moving online this year! As always, it’s the weekend following Columbus Day, and will feature a live stream of the Shuck Off for the 20th iteration of this great event. Support the community by ordering Wellfleet oysters to eat while you watch, bid on auction items, and buy some great local merch!

Forget pumpkin spice: the fall is cranberry season. There’s something very pleasing and orderly about watching them round up all of the cranberries for harvest (not to mention highly Instagrammable). Watch the process in action in Harwich off Exit 10 or in Yarmouth on Weir Road, go for a walking tour of a working bog, or just pick up some delicious, locally-grown goodies! 

Lower temperatures mean more time spent outside without immediately being covered in sweat. Nothing beats soaking up the warm sunshine, cool ocean breezes, and changing foliage on a Thoreau-esque stroll in nature! Try the Boardwalk Trail in Wellfleet or on the John Wing Trail in Brewster for a peaceful moment of solitude that feels miles away from civilization….but is still close enough to grab lunch when you’re done. 

Somehow, we’ve made it this far through 2020. The change of seasons is a perfect moment to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come…and then brace yourself for the upcoming holiday season. So enjoy being outside while the sunlight lasts, and as always, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance! 

Ahhhh... Summer on Cape Cod Part 3

Sunfish!The (Sun)Burn Book: Beaches Edition

Some people are die-hards for their favorite baseball or football team; others are ready to throw hands over deep dish vs. thin crust pizza. Here on the Cape, we display loyalty (and a fair amount of smugness) through our choice of beach. 

Where to spend your time enjoying the wind, sand, and surf is a deeply personal choice. Are you a bayside person, as variable as high and low tide? Bold and rugged, like the National Seashore? Or perhaps you’re a sound-side person, steady and occasionally covered in seaweed. Staring at the waves and thinking one’s thoughts is a time-honored Cape tradition, so you’ll have plenty of time to mull it over. Whatever your dream beach is like, I’ve got options for you:

Beach must-have: Parking! 

A quick way to ruin your chill vacation vibe is getting to the beach and discovering that there’s no parking. If you’re like me, you lie awake all night and stress about this eventuality. Fun AND relaxing! 
Of course, the National Seashore lots are all large, but if you’re staying in the Mid- to Lower-Cape and want something close by, Red River Beach in Harwich and West Dennis Beach in (you guessed it) Dennis both have ample lots. Bonus: they run parallel to the beach so you can minimize the distance you have to drag one thousand pounds of beach chairs, small children, and assorted plastic toys across the sand. 

Beach must-have: Tidal flats!

Sure, high tide is neat. The dramatic crash of the surf, wondering if the water is going to surge under your chair, getting really wet when the next wave does exactly that, it’s a hoot. But the cool kids know that low tide, especially on the bayside, is the bee’s knees. Brewster boasts some of the most impressive tidal flats in all of North America, stretching over a mile into Cape Cod Bay. Forget fighting over a tiny little strip of sand at high tide -- spread out on the flats, look for unique rocks, and stare off into the middle distance like your lover has forsaken you to sail the endless seas. Corporation Beach in Dennis and Skaket Beach in Orleans are both great places to do all three, but Crosby Beach in Brewster is really where you’ll get the full experience. 

West Dennis Beach SunriseBeach must-haves: Absolutely no chance of sharks

The ocean is where sharks live, and they’ve been around for millenia, so we have to respect that. If you swim with exuberance, or you dislike ending the day crusted in sunscreen and sea salt, maybe you’re a pond person! Luckily for you, the Cape is essentially a big piece of Swiss cheese so ponds are myriad. Splash to your heart’s content in Harwich at Long Pond or Hinkley’s Pond. In Brewster enjoy Sheep Pond and in Eastham, Herring Pond. Remember to reapply sunscreen often and watch for pruney fingers!

At the end of the day, it isn’t about which beach is best for you: it’s about being vaguely condescending about other people’s beach preferences. Just kidding! It’s about enjoying whichever one you chose - so keep your distance, wash your hands, and leave the place nicer than you found it!

For more information on buying or selling on Cape Cod contact Amand Bebrin --HERE--

Ahhhh... Summer on Cape Cod Part 2

July, at last! Summer’s here and everyone has an opinion on how you should spend your time here on the Cape. So little time, so many things to choose from! Whatever you do, don’t miss out on these classics….

Water, water everywhere: If wheels and walks aren’t your jam, watercraft is also about as Cape Cod as it gets. While Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound, and the National Seashore are the obvious bodies of water, the Cape also boasts a ton of freshwater ponds and the Bass River. Take in the scenery from a new angle in a kayak or pedal boat, or subtly show off your killer core strength and impressive balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Either way, being out on the water is its own form of relaxation and meditation, with the added perk of seeing all the native flora and fauna. Am I the only one who yells, “bird” every time I see a bird? I think not. The Pump House in Orleans, Cape Cod Waterways in Dennis, and Down Cape in Harwich provide a variety of rental craft and locales to explore! 

The big screen (literally): One of my favorite memories of vacationing on the Cape was going to the drive-in. It didn’t matter if I’d seen the movie before -- there’s something so novel about watching it outside, wrapped up in a cozy blanket, occasionally heckling the out-of-state SUV in front of you for opening their tailgate halfway through the film. From choosing the perfect spot to park, to setting up the beach chairs and forgetting just how long Jaws really is, the drive-in is a must-do when you’re here on the Cape. This year especially, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the Cape while keeping a safe distance!
The Wellfleet Drive-In has been around since the 50’s and is a Cape Cod landmark in its own right! It has nightly showings during the summer, changing weekly. If you’re in the Mid-Cape region, both Yarmouth and Hyannis have screenings as well: Yarmouth’s calendar starts July 12th, and Hyannis is operating on Fridays into August. 

I could keep going about all the ‘quintessential’ Cape things to do -- mini-golfing, bridge traffic, waiting two hours for a table on a Saturday night. But truly, the heart of Cape Cod is all the people who choose to come here to make memories, be it for a week, the season, or their whole lives. So however you decide to fill your time here this summer, remember to wash your hands, wear your mask in public, and give people space wherever you can. This is a special place to spend any amount of time, so thank you for helping us keep our wonderful community healthy and thriving!

Check in next week, when I break down which beaches are the best for soaking up all this gorgeous sunshine.

Ahhhh... Summer on Cape Cod Part 1

Ahh, summer on Cape Cod. The thing we dream of all year long: breeze-kissed beaches, lobster rolls eaten on wooden picnic tables, and sitting in traffic on 6A behind someone who absolutely does not know how to take a left turn. 
And while “quintessential” is one of those words that I could easily go without ever hearing again, along with “unprecedented” and “the Big Lebowski,” there are a few activities that qualify as being quintessential Cape Cod things to do and live up to the hype (beaches and dining out are deserving of their own dedicated posts, so we’ll save those for another time).

Bike Rides: Have you ever really vacationed on the Cape if you haven’t spent at least one sweltering August afternoon, biking uphill both ways (somehow) on the Cape Cod Rail Trail? Bonus points if you have, or were, a patently miserable child riding one of those half-bike attachments (official name: Alleycat)! The bike path is a great socially-distant activity that really makes you appreciate nature, time spent with your loved ones, and how awful humidity is. 
Orleans and Eastham have bike rentals convenient to the bike path, or bring your own and park at any of the free CCRT lots. Be sure to call or check the websites for Covid-related policies currently in place. 
** A couple points of etiquette: as a cyclist, when you’re passing people on the trail, it is customary to give them a heads-up by saying, "on your left". When crossing the road, be sure to dismount, make sure traffic can see you and stops for you, and then walk across to the other side. As a pedestrian, you have the right of way, but if you cycle your bike across the road, you’re a cyclist and the oncoming cars get to decide whether to let you pass or not. **

Stroll & Snack: Maybe you’re like me, and years of summer cycle treks have left you scarred for life. Or maybe you prefer to avoid the parking lots that are routes 6, 6A, and 28. Either way, you’re happy to walk the trails, and if there’s a conveniently-located spot to get something to eat, what a delightful coincidence! Heading from Brewster to Eastham, Stone L’Oven, Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters, the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar are all bike-path adjacent places to pause your leisurely stroll and grab a delicious treat. Plus, it’s a long-standing Cape rule that any calories consumed during a walk or bike ride just don’t count. It is known. 

Stay tuned for part 2!
 

WHEREIN Amanda divulges her secrets in order to salvage everyone's summer on Cape Cod

Breakwater Beach BrewsterThis year has already been ten years long, and we’ve still got six months to go. After an interminable spring spent in isolation, warmer weather has us all dreaming of getting away from it all. Preferably while lying on a beach, and drinking something cold and bubbly.

Since Cape Cod is a prime destination within driving distance for several major metropolises, you can bet that we’ll still be having a summer season -- it’s just going to look a little different than years past. 

What should you expect? The same standards we’ve been practicing for months: if you’re unwell, stay home. If you’re out and about, wear a mask and keep your distance. Bring as much of what you need with you, and be patient with local restaurant workers, town employees and beach attendants, and other tourists as we all navigate this new system (and wash your hands!).

Fortunately for you, I am an introvert at heart and have built a whole social life around having minimal interaction with other people. So my suggestions for a fun and socially-distanced summer are as follows….

Depending on the town, beaches stop charging admission after 5pm (but close at dark), so make the most of the longer days and arrive later. Parking lots tend to be emptier later in the day, and you run less of a risk of getting completely sunburned your first day here! Red River Beach in Harwich and West Dennis Beach in Dennis both have ample parking lots and room to spread out.
Restaurants are allowed to offer patio service now and many are also still doing takeout. Pick somewhere you’ve never tried before, and a beach you’ve always wanted to go to, and enjoy sunset dinner with amazing water views (don’t forget the bug spray!). If you haven’t already, Encore in Dennis has truly incomparable bread pudding; at Rock Harbor in Orleans, try the prosciutto pizza; and for lobster rolls, there’s nowhere better than Sesuit Harbor Cafe (also in Dennis!). 
There will be drive-in movies in both Hyannis and Wellfleet this year! All the fun of going to the movies, with none of the annoyance of someone kicking your seat for the entirety of the show.
Holiday Hill in Dennis Port is the best mini-golf on the Cape, and yes, I am willing to fight about it. Wait until the heat breaks in the evening and see how long before a lighthearted, fun activity turns into a challenge of your competence as a human being. Let’s not forget that having a golf club to swing will encourage people to keep their distance!

Covid-19 has made this an exceptionally challenging year, and we’re not out of the woods yet. For all that people are excited to escape to the Cape, the cancellation of popular parades, fireworks, craft shows, and various Fests is a disappointment. But rest assured, it will still be a great summer. All the things that make Cape Cod wonderful are unchanged: the tantalizing array of food and beverages, the diverse natural splendor of our beaches and trails, and most importantly, the feeling of pushing ‘pause’ on reality to spend time with the people you love. So come, enjoy, stay healthy, relax and recharge.

Surviving and thriving during COVID lock-down: Part 2

Cape Cod Rail Trail - A. BebrinAfter making it through the longest March ever, we’re now staring down an equally long April spent in lockdown. For a society that’s usually lamenting never having enough time to do the things we want, we’re now facing a month’s worth of hours to fill. Whether you’re still going to work, managing kiddos, working or taking classes from home, or just plain going stir crazy (or all of the above), everything can feel really overwhelming at the moment. In my experience, it does help to find something small, and feasible, to accomplish, to have some semblance of control - at least over your own life and space. So, if you could use some ideas to help fill these many, many hours in isolation, I’ve got your back.

Nickerson State Park TrailsBird *is* the word: The weather is finally getting nicer, and while we’re all cooped up inside, the birds are back in action! Cape Cod boasts a diverse population of feathered former-dinos, which you can observe out your own windows. Provided that you’re staying the recommended 6 feet away from any other burgeoning birders, the Cape Cod Rail Trail and local conservation trails are also great places to spot Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Ospreys, and more. Mass Audubon has tons of materials to help you identify the birds you do see -- I would not recommend trying to Google them based on a loose series of descriptors. “Small bird black red patches” does not return the results you want and also Google will think you’re having a stroke. 

Actually tackling your honey-do/home improvement list: As any professional procrastinator knows, there comes a point when you’ve exhausted your entire list of activities and are still so bored that you’re willing to do things that you’ve been avoiding for years. This is the moment to rid your closet and bureau of all those clothes that don’t fit you; to finally organize that drawer/pile of miscellaneous mail, accessories, and free promotional stuff; to patch and repaint the hole in the bathroom wall where you *accidentally* ripped down the towel bar two years ago. Extra points will be awarded if you choose to do anything on the outside of your house, or that involves the words ‘lawn clean-up’ or ‘mulch.’ 

Check in again for more great things to do on Cape Cod next week!  And click here to contact us with any questions about buying and selling real estate - and enjoying all that Cape Cod has to offer.

Cape Cod Affordable Housing Update | Feb 2020

We get a lot of questions from folks interested in the issue of housing affordability here on the Cape, so we thought we’d give a quick overview of the issue and some of the potential solutions being discussed.  

What exactly is meant by “affordable”?  The benchmark for housing affordability is 30% of a family’s income.  Here on Cape, the Area Median income (AMI) from 2014-2018 (per census) was $70,621 (see here for census data).  During the same interval the median home sale price was $367,700.  The total monthly payment on a median priced home comes to approximately 28% of median income if the buyer has a traditional 20% down payment (jump to our math below).

So with a good-sized down payment, the median priced home can be purchased by the median-earning household.  Good news so far.  Now let’s break down housing affordability for households earning below median income.  Take a look at the graph of residential price distribution in 2019.  Here we matched home prices to the income brackets in the next graph to determine how many homes are available to homes in their income price range.  Notice the steep decline in available homes below median income affordability of $367k.  Now compare that to the graph of income distribution.  Notice the mis-match.  If your household earns 68% AMI you may be only 32% away from median in terms of income, but 32% less than median home value equates to $250k, and there are almost no homes available in that price bracket.  

In addition, these graphs don’t account for the quality of the housing at each price point.  A good-quality ‘move in’ condition home can be found around the median price point of $367,000.  However, once you get down to about the $300,000 mark it is extremely challenging to find a home that is not in need of significant repairs or upgrades before it is ready for occupancy.  (If we could graph housing quality against price point, it would show an even sharper peak than the price graph).  On the one hand, this presents an opportunity to a buyer who is willing to buy a fixer upper for a low purchase price, bang nails after work and build equity.  However, it also means that same buyer must budget for repairs in addition to down payment, which further reduces the price of the home they can afford.  And for the less hands-on households, it means a home purchase is a nonstarter.

Ok, so it is a challenge for a household earning less than AMI to buy a home, so they decide to rent and save up to buy down the line.  Good plan – but let’s take a look at rental market first. Per HUD guidelines, fair market rent for a 3 bedroom house in Barnstable county is $1,919/month (reference here).  This is $264/month more than the same household would be paying for a median priced home of their own.  Why the mis-match? Barnstable County has a 1% vacancy rate for rentals, which represents a huge shortage – a healthy rate would be 7%.  This shortage translates to high demand, which translates to – you guessed it, high prices. 

So let’s circle back to the median home value calculation above, which assumed that our median earning family had a 20% downpayment to apply to their median-priced home.  If a renting household is paying close to $300 (16%) per month more to rent than to own, it can be a real challenge to save enough money to put towards a downpayment.  They are stuck in a loop of paying too much for rent, while also pricing themselves out of the possibility of homeownership.

So what is the solution?  There is no silver bullet, but bringing more rental units online is a big part of the answer.  One tool that has gained a lot of traction on the Cape is easing prohibitions on accessory apartments.  This is a minor change which can go a long way to bringing more small, organically affordable, market rate units into the market place.  Other initiatives include property tax incentives for landlords of long-term rentals, form-based code zoning reform to encourage multi-use and multi-family development, and raising density in areas where the infrastructure already exists to service a higher density of homes.  A lot of innovative work is being done to help restore a healthy, balanced real estate market to the Cape (and the nation).  It’s a topic that is near and dear to our hearts – if you ever have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  We’d be happy to discuss in greater detail.


Calculations

Area Median income 2014-2018 (per census): $70,621
    • Average Median home price 2014-2018 (per CCI board of realtors): $367,700

At today's conforming interest rate of 3.375% (CC5 2.06.2020) a mortgage on a $367,700 home looks like this:

    • 20% Down payment = $73,540
    • Loan Amount = $294,160
    • Principal/Interest monthly payment = $1,300.47
    • Taxes = $245 (assuming an imaginary town with 8/1000 mil rate and assessed value equal to purchase price {market value is typically actually 120%-124% of assessment for most towns in the mid-Cape})
    • Insurance = ~$110

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Total Monthly Payment Estimate = $1,655.47

Best Shellfishing Spots on Cape Cod | Update Fall 2019

Courtesy of C Dannhauser

Fall is a great time for shellfishing on Cape Cod.  The water is still relatively warm and the weather, if you aren't in the middle of a Nor'Easter, is generally crisp and beautiful.  A lot reopens in October and November so time to get the rake out of the shed and start digging.

Each town has unique regulations and areas that are open and closed depending on the season.  Check out the listings below for more details on 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

Storm Preparation on Cape Cod

With the 2019 hurricane season in full swing and the memory of the bizarre July Tornadoes still fresh in our minds, preparing for a storm should be a concern before winter hits.  Late summer and fall hurricanes do pose serious concerns for the Cape, winter Nor'easters are often just as damaging with the additional possibility of freezing temperatures.  To make sure you and your house are prepared to weather any storm here are some specific recommendations to consider.  

Landscaping

  Trees are a major threat to structures, cars, and people in storms.  In particular Cape Cod has a lot of pitch pines that tend to snap off large limbs or drop entire tops in large wind events.  If you have them, make sure they are far away from your house so that, if they do fall, they won't land on anything important (see right.  This was the 'Freaky Friday' storm in December 2005.  Luckily no one was hurt but the driver had only returned home ten minutes before).  Obviously it is important to take a good look at any tree that is close to a structure, not just pines.  Additionally limbs that overhang the roof cause more lichen to grow, shortening its life, and leaves and needles clog up gutters adding to drainage issues in heavy rains and ice issues in the winter.

Make a prep bag

  We are big fans of self reliance.  To that end preparing for the worst is a good way to make the best of a bad situation.  Have a grab bag ready in case you lose power for several days.  Here is the FEMA website with good instructions too. Crank flashlights and radios are great since they don't need batteries, also make sure you have some way to eat.  Your gas may work in a storm but your electric sparker won't so don't forget matches.  Also have enough canned food in the pantry for a few days in case cooking isn't an option.  Also if you don't want to live rugged at home without power, your bag should include what you need at a shelter, bedding, toiletries, medications and some personal items (games and books!) will make smart additions to a prep bag.  During major storms emergency services are already stretched to the max so make sure to get to a shelter before travel gets dangerous or you become an emergency yourself.  In winter this becomes a serious decision since power loss often means loss of heat as well.  If you have a working fireplace or wood stove stock up on plenty of good dry wood.  And get out all those ugly old wool sweaters and down comforters!  

Prepare your house

If you are planning on being out of town or leaving your home for a shelter, turn off the water.  This is true even in the summer but especially in the winter.  We can't stress this enough.  With no heat in your house there is nothing keeping your pipes from freezing and turning your house into a skating rink.  Even if your pipes do burst, with the water off, there is a limited amount of damage that can be done.  Boarding up windows is a good idea for people who leave for long periods of time.  We see it less and less these days since windows are more durable, but it won't hurt.  If you aren't boarding up and high winds are expected, consider taping your windows or drape sheets against the inside to reduce broken glass damage.  Mind you, those sheets will blow away if a window breaks but they'll also help keep the glass contained.  Here is a fun anecdote.  Off the coast of Maine, where many small private islands exist with seasonal cottages, many people intentionally leave their door unlocked.  Why you may ask?  This not-so-secret secret is well known among the fishing and maritime community as a means of survival.  Homeowners leave food and blankets on the kitchen table in case a stranded fisherman (or a wrecked one) needs some help.  Our favorite part of this story, no one betrays this trust and loots - ever.  The lesson here is don't forget to help your neighbors.

We hope you found these tips helpful.  If you need recommendations for good local landscapers or tree professionals please contact us

 

Cape Cod Open Houses Weekend 8/17-8/18 2019

Check out these open houses on Cape Cod this weekend.  If you are interested in any of these homes or to learn more about any other homes for sale on the Cape, contact us today.  Chatelain Real Estate agents are known for the excellent quality of service and professionalism they offer their clients and would love to help you find your dream home on Cape Cod.

Saturday 10-12 | 37 Uncle Stephens Road, West Dennis

A classic Cape Cod dune shack located directly on Nantucket Sound. Step in and enjoy the sun and sand or renovate and build your dream. Opportunities abound on this truly unique property with infinite potential.

 

 

 

 

Saturday 1-3 | 15 Ocean Avenue, Harwich Port

This is an unbeatable sought-after location that features charming cottages, which share a love for summer fun. Nantucket Sound is merely 140 paces away and Harwich Port village center is less than a quarter mile for fine dining, shopping, art galleries, and more. This home an arts and crafts style bungalow renovated in 2013, combines historic features, such as built-ins, charming decorative arched fireplace, carved brick mantle and dark wooden beams with modern bathrooms, kitchen, and infrastructure upgrades. The ocean is viewable from both up and downstairs porches and the master bedroom. It is a larger home with adequate room for large gatherings. Long standing solid rental history is available. The newly upgraded septic system makes this ready to go.