Cape Cod Area

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.

Cape Cod Market Update August 2019

July Review:

   Compared to this time last year, July saw only slight variation in four of the six metrics we investigate for this blog (pictured at right).  Days on market was up significantly compared to this time last year; however it was down compared to June.  Additionally the number of new listings was down nearly 15% compared to last year and lost about 9% compared to June this year.  With all of this in mind we are seeing a normal decline in market activity due to the seasonality of our area.  Nationally, mortgage interest rates are exceptionally low yet affordability continues to be a serious concern.

 

 

Recent Market Summary

  May June   July  
    Closed Sales   441  361   341  
   Inventory    2,032  2,067   2,044  
   Median Sales Price   $427K     $450K     $435K  
   Avg Days on Market   101  106   101  
   Avg % of Original Price   95%  95%   94%  

 

Check out these two blogs for more valuable insight into real estate on Cape Cod

 

   Our Take: Are sharks really taking a bite out of the Cod Cod Summer Rental Market?

    Owning a Septic System on Cape Cod

      

Cape Cod Tornado - Storm Resources 2019

Gilbert Road in Dennis PortWell.  A tornado on Cape Cod is certainly not something we ever seriously considered.  We are glad first and most importantly that there appear to be no serious injuries or deaths as a result of the storm.  To make things easier, here is a list of resources that you can check for information regarding the storm repairs.  Finally a heartfelt thank you to all of the first responders, linemen, and landscapers working overtime to get everything cleaned up.

Last updated 7/24/19 10:15am

Emergencies - 911

Barnstable County Emergency Shelter Locations Map

Eversource (Electricity)

   Report an outage

   Outage Map

Most Affected Towns - for all list of all towns click here

    Town of Barnstable

    Town of Yarmouth

    Town of Dennis

    Town of Harwich - Heavy damage, critical updates here

    Town of Chatham

News

   NPR WCAI Radio 94.3

   WXTK News Radio 95.1

   Cape Cod Times

Cape Cod Market Update July 2019

June Review:

Compared to this time last year median price and inventory are both up.  However Inventory compared to May is a small gain of only 25 homes.  It looks like the market entered the summer slow-down a bit earlier this year (usually it hits in July) with closed sales and new listings both down in June.  Apparently sellers were already getting ready for the beach last month.  The ever growing point of concern, not only on the Cape but nationally as well, is the affordability and availability of homes.  The Realtor professional publication states that the inventory shortage has reached 2.5 million homes.  Through normal economic interactions, such a severe deficit in available housing will continue to drive prices up as well as affect the rental markets (see California and New York's new rent control regulations).   The Realtor article features a few solutions and while none are new they will all be important to relieving the housing shortage.  Read more about ADUs, Opportunity Zones and more here.

 

Recent Market Summary

  Apr May June
    Closed Sales   331   441  361
   Inventory    1,982   2,032  2,067
   Median Sales Price   $425K     $427K   $450K
   Avg Days on Market   120   101  106
   Avg % of Original Price   94%   95%  95%

 

   Fun things to do this summer

    Top 5 Dog Walks on Cape Cod 

      

Cape Cod Free Summer Events and Concerts 2019

It's that time of year again!  Check out our list of fun and free things to do on Cape Cod in the summer of 2019.

Free Concerts

Throughout the summer you can catch free outdoor concerts sponsored by the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and TD Bank.  Additionally here are a few more ideas from affordable-cape-cod-vacations.com.

Not part of the Arts Foundation Series but always fun are the Brewster Town Band Performances at Drummer Boy Park.  6pm Sundays.

Concerts sponsored by the Southside Civic Association at the Dennis Port Village Green are also Tuesday evenings at 6pm, here is that list.

July 9th    The McMurphy’s Perform Easy Listening Pop Tunes 
        Sponsored by Knockout Pizza
July 16th    Chappell and Stole Perform Top Hits of the 70s and 80s 
        Sponsored by Chatelain Real Estate
July 23rd    Crocodile Tears Performs Swinging Oldies 
        Sponsored by Coastal Engineering
July 30st    Heyday Performs Standard American Tunes 
        Sponsored by Cape Living Real Estate
Aug 6th    Mike Higgins Performs Classic American Standards
        Sponsored by Dickey Insurance

These last two are at the West Dennis Graded School House

Aug 13th    The Skiffs Perform Celtic and Folk Tunes
        Sponsored by Paradise Pizza
Aug 20th    Terry Brennan Performs Irish and American Country
        Sponsored by Paradise Liquors

The town of Wellfleet Recreation Department hosts Music at Mayo Beach various nights throughout the summer.  Check out their list of performances and concerts here.

Feel like ouzo and some excellent live music and dancing?  Check out the 37th Annual Grecian Festival July 19th-July 21st at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Centerville.

You can also check out a lot in Harwich from free Harwich Town Band Concerts on Tuesdays to the Antique Car show Wednesdays at the A&W on route 28.

Don't just rely on us though!  Ask around and find your own things to do all summer long.  We think (know!) there is no better place to spend the summer than on Cape Cod. 

Cape Cod Open Houses Weekend 7/13-7/14 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 | 37B 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 | 88 Pleasant Bay Road, Harwich

One floor living at its best. Delightful home centrally located. It features warm wood accents, an open floor plan, beamed vaulted ceiling, central AC, and sparkling hardwood floors throughout. The master bedroom with private bath has direct access through large slider to the deck. This home is nestled on a private acre of land that is convenient to Pleasant Bay for water recreation and to shopping, restaurants, groceries, post office and all life needs. Truly a joy to own.

 

 

Sunday 10-12 | 15 Ocean Ave, 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.