Cape Cod Real Estate

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.

Open Houses Weekend 2/24-2/25

We have 3 great open houses this weekend that you won't want to miss.

With 9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis, location is everything and this home has it all - expansive views of Quivet Neck conservation land as far as Cape Cod Bay and lush grounds that have character and set the tone for the Cape Cod lifestyle. The gracious interiors cover 6600 square feet which include separate living quarters and a large private office that makes this home ideal for corporate retreats. 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, and lush carpeting, vaulted ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows. This is truly private and in an exceptional neighborhood. Bring your personal touches. $2,075,000.

 

Just new to the market 438 Main St, Osterville, is a unique refined residence a short stroll to Osterville Village for Fancy's Market, library, post office, coffee, and brunch or to Dowes Beach for a sunny walk or cooling dip. This renovated charmer has a versatile floor plan. The heart of the home features a family room kitchen combination that spills onto the large gracious sun room that was added in 2012 with deck and patio on either side. The living room with lovely bay window is set apart allowing for quiet contemplation and intimate chats. Each bedroom has a private bath. There is extra sleeping area with half bath for visitors. The home is air conditioned throughout and has a fantastic outdoor shower. This adaptable home is to be enjoyed in summer and all year long. $699,000

 

Also new to market and having the versatility of both residential and general commercial zoning, 485 Main St, West Dennis, was also known as the Rose Victorian Gift Shop for many years.  Built in 1877 this striking Folk Victorian home features five bedrooms, 3 baths, a large carriage house of consistent architecture, two storage 'barns,' plus a privy. It is sited along Main Street a walk to the Village Center. Charm and grace best describe the tree lined street setting and interior with its inlaid wood floors, high ceilings, plaster ceiling medallions and many other period features. The General Commercial zoning allows for a wide variety of uses. Bring your ideas and make this property sparkle once more! $399,000

Market Trends and Analysis - Part 4

    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.  For our final installment we will evaluate the Cape Cod market for the past 3 years (starting in October 2014).  

    First the inventory of single family homes has been dropping over the past few years.  This factor coupled with rising median sales prices and fewer days on market indicate an accelerating market in Barnstable County.  Another interesting factor to note is the significant decrease in homes for sale over the past year and that 2017 did not show as stark a seasonal bump in inventory as is typical.  Additionally the affordability index is trending towards less affordability on Cape Cod.  

    What's our take? If you are thinking of buying, our advice is not to wait.  Interest rates are at historic lows and, if the current market trend continues, homes will continue to become gradually more expensive.  The long-term news isn't all bad, though - there are numerous local, state, and federal initiatives in the works which plan to ease the affordability pinch here on the Cape.  For more information, check out this local housing forum featuring none other than our own Ned Chatelain.  But you don't have to wait for new programs to buy something - give us a call and we can put you in touch with the top-notch mortgage brokers we work with who can walk you through low-downpayment and no-downpayment mortgages, first time home-buyer programs, or local lending incentives that can make the difference between buying this year or buying in three years.

     On the other hand, If you are thinking of selling, this is good news for you.  The Spring is an excellent time to get your house on the market and winter is the best time to get it ready.  Give us a call today if you are interested in a home valuation and comparative market analysis.

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.

Market Trends and Analysis - Part 2

    Our goal in this series 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 - homes in Brewster between $300k and $500k.  We chose this market because it includes the current median sales price in Barnstable County of $380,000. 

    From August 1, 2017 until October 26th (when we ran the numbers) only 25 homes have sold in this price range in Brewster.  Remarkably, the median sales price is ...$380,000, and the average days on market is 66.  As a result we note that in the past three months houses in Brewster sell more quickly than the average in Barnstable County.  Furthermore Brewster shows signs favoring sellers.  We see this in the fact that homes sell relatively quickly and return a higher % of original list price than Barnstable County overall (please see Part 1 for this graph and explanation).  When looking at the last 3 weeks we also note that fewer price reductions are needed before homes are selling.  Other points of interest that we consider - though don't have time to discuss fully - include absorption rate, total listings and withdrawn listings.

    We look forward to introducing part 3 of this series when we compare markets with specific features (water!).  If you are curious about how your home will compete in your local market please contact us today or click here to get a home valuation.

Market Trends and Analysis - Part 1

    We always try to understand the real estate market on Cape Cod in a variety of ways and to explain our understanding to our clients.  For the first installment of this series we will be looking at Barnstable County as a whole and explaining an interesting trend that carries over into many markets on Cape Cod.  Our goal is to help you understand how we interpret the market here on the Cape and how it informs our decisions when developing pricing strategies.

    To begin we found residential property sales from $100,000 to $2,000,000 for the past 365 days and calculated the median days on market and sales price.  In this case median days on market is 55, median sales price is $380,000.  Why median and not average? When describing a set of data that is not normally distributed (a bell curve), average is not necessarily the best way to describe the central tendency of the data.  The median says that 50% of homes that sold were equal to or greater than that price, and the other 50% were less than or equal to that price.  This helps us get a better picture than the average for what a typical house sells for on Cape Cod (since only a few expensive homes will pull this average up).  Also for the days on market the same discrepancy is apparent: median is 55 days, average 100 days.  The average in this case is skewed above what is typical because some houses take a very long time to sell.  So we stick with median for these cases.

    The other thing we find is that the longer a house stays on the market, the less money it makes...in two ways.  Notice the graph at right.  The pairs of bars represent the fastest selling homes (selling in less than 26 days), the middle (26-118 days) and the slowest selling homes (more than 118 days).  The red bars are the current price as a percent of the original list price.  The blue bars are the sale price as a percent of the original list price. What we see is that the fastest selling houses don't reduce in price (red = 100%) and sell for very near the original asking price (98%).  The next set of homes reduce their current price to 97% of original and sell for only 94% of the original.  The last group reduce the price yet again and sell for even less than the original asking price.  The trend is towards weaker offers generating lower sales prices.

    The lesson is three fold.  First, by pricing your home well from the start you are increasing your chances of getting a better offer.  Second, leaving your home at a high price for too long tends to return lower offers - a principle which is more pronounced the longer your house spends on the market. Finally, by using qualified local real estate agents who understand the local markets you are maximizing your chances of pricing your home correctly from day one.  One final point, agents do not determine the price of your home, the market does.  

    If you are curious about how your home will compete in the local market please contact us today or click here to get a home valuation.