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Cape Cod Real Estate

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.

Add value to your home through exterior improvements

  As the days get shorter and the prospect of fall becomes ever more apparent, outdoor landscaping improvements seem less daunting.  Cooler weather makes outdoor projects more enjoyable and undertaking even simple jobs can add significantly to the curb appeal of your home.  The National Association of Realtors published a report relating to the benefits of outdoor remodeling projects that you can find here and while many of their suggestions are valid in the national market we pulled out the one we find most pertinent to Cape Cod.

LAWN CARE AND MAINTENANCE is by far the most important and cost effective thing you can do to add value to your home. We can not stress enough the importance of keeping your landscaping neat.  You needn't spend a fortune to re-sod your lawn, install irrigation, repave your driveway and invest in mature plantings in order to reap gains on the sale price of your home.  For the cost of a used lawn mower (often free) and an hour once or twice a week you can add value to your property and enjoy a more pleasing atmosphere in the mean time. One of the most important aspects of cost-effective landscape care is matching it to the condition of your home.  On Cape Cod a lot of small cottages have 'Cape Cod lawns' - which is a nice way of saying mostly pine needles and some tenacious tufts of grass here and there - and, if paired with a clean, weed-free shell driveway and well pruned shrubs, requires minimum  investment in landscaping improvement.  However, newer homes with poorly maintained landscaping (spots on the lawn, overgrowth, rotting fences) significantly detract from the curb appeal and, ultimately, sale price of your home.  If it is in the budget, having trusted and professional landscapers on a yearly maintenance schedule is a great way to be sure your landscaping looks its best as they can take care of fall cleanup, spring planting, regular pruning, trimming and mowing and much more.  Let's see a few examples:

429 Bragg's Lane in Barnstable, is an updated home with appropriately matched and maintained landscaping.  The plantings in front are below the windows and the lawn is well maintained, which is appropriate for the condition of the home.   Also shown is a cute patio in the backyard.  While not always needed or fitting, adding tasteful exterior living space can definitely add value to your home, and this simple patio is a great example of that.  Unfortunately this home just sold for $480K but if you are interested in other Barnstable homes check this out.

5 Sebastian Way in South Yarmouth, is an example of a house with appropriate and simple landscaping.  The minimal plantings in front are still growing into their spaces , the hydrangeas are well pruned and blooming, and the lawn (a good example of a Cape Cod lawn), is trimmed with the flower beds neatly mulched and ringed in front.  As a cute summer getaway or year-round residence, this home also benefits from a simple fire-pit ringed with bricks.  Well matched and well maintained beats neglected every time.  Yarmouth is a beautiful town and there are plenty of other Yarmouth listing to be seen here.

As a final point regarding soft-scaping, the late summer and early fall is a great time to reseed your lawn on Cape Cod.  The ground is warm and yet the scorching summer sun is in the past so seedlings have a chance to get established before the winter.  Believe it or not, many grasses will survive a winter covered in snow more easily than a summer baked in sun - so time to reseed ladies and gentlemen.

If you need help contacting trusted local landscapers or have questions about buying or selling a home please give us a call today.

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.

Upcoming Cape Cod open houses

We have some excellent open houses this weekend.  From a just listed charmer in South Yarmouth to a luxury home in East Dennis overlooking beautiful Quivet Neck, we invite any and every buyer to come and take a look.  For a list of all upcoming open houses in the Cape Cod are, please follow this link.

 

9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | $2,075,000

This is a beautiful example of a luxury home on Cape Cod that fits beautifully with the antique charm of East Dennis.  Incredibly private and featuring low maintenance siding, decking and gutters this house is and will continue to look beautiful for years to come.  Enjoy its many distinctive indoor and outdoor entertaining areas including an expansive deck, fire pit, wood paneled den and more.  This one is not to be missed.

 

 

28 Oconnor Lane, South Dennis | $369,000

**Price Reduced** This 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch has a large comfortably carpeted 3 season room in the back adding to the ample living space and a partially finished walk out basement with lots of natural light.  With proximity to the Wixon School, Patriot Square and Route 6, this home features both convenience and quiet.

 

 

5 Sebastian Way, South Yarmouth | $329,000

Don't miss out on this well-kept, immaculately maintained 2+ bedroom saltbox at the end of a dead-end street in super-convenient South Yarmouth. Fresh kitchen and 2 updated full baths. Flexible floor plan with loft, cathedral living room, and en-suite master. Level, low maintenance yard, with deck and outdoor shower. .4 miles from grocery, pharmacy, post office, restaurants, dry goods, and more. 1.2 miles to beach. Convenient to Route 6 - you've got it all.

As always, please contact us if we can help you in any way.

5 Sebastian Way South Yarmouth, Cape Cod MA | $329,000 | 2BR/2BA Saltbox | JUST LISTED

    Don't miss out on this well-kept, immaculately maintained 2+ bedroom saltbox at the end of a dead-end street in super-convenient South Yarmouth.  Fresh kitchen and 2 completely updated full baths.  Flexible floor plan with cathedral living room and en-suite master. Level, low maintenance yard, with deck and outdoor shower.  .4 miles from grocery, pharmacy, post office, restaurants, dry goods, and more. 1.2 miles to beach, convenient to Route 6 - you've got it all.  

See the listing here

Here are a few nice shots to whet your appetite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Houses

We are having an open house extravaganza this weekend!  Four wonderful properties featured from Barnstable Village to East Dennis.  If you are interested in viewing all open houses in the area click here.

 

9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis | $2,200,000

 

    This home is not to be missed.  From the three gas fireplaces to warm your heart, to the 900 bottle wine cooler to keep your guests cool, this luxury home has every amenity and the views to match.  

Come and take a look Sunday 6/25 from 1-3pm

 

 

41 Deacon Court, Barnstable Village | $610,000

   

    With the feel of a country home including exposed beams and a warm gas hearth, this home will warm your heart too.  1.29 acres of beautifully manicured landscaping and so close to Barnstable Village this one is not to be missed.

Come and take a look Saturday 6/24 from 1-3pm

 

 

33 Aunt Janes Way, Bass River Yarmouth | $439,000

 

    A stroll away from the windmill on Bass River and one of the prettiest neighborhoods for a Sunday drive, ride or walk this home is a perfect opportunity for someone looking to modernize a home in a phenomenal location.

Come and take a look Sunday 6/25 10-12

 

 

14 Braun Road, West Yarmouth | $399,000

 

    This home has the livability of a ranch including a first floor master with the benefit of an addition in the back and an added master bedroom above the garage.  Spread your guests or family out in this 4 bedroom 3 bath.

Come and take a look Saturday 6/24 10-12

38 Mayflower Rd W Yarmouth MA | $279,000

38 Mayflower Road West Yarmouth, Cape Cod MA, JUST LISTED --- $279,000

Cute as a button! The essence of Cape Cod best describes this adorable cottage that is less than half mile to a warm Nantucket Sound beach. It offers wood floors, living room with fireplace, dining room, two first floor bedrooms, and two additional rooms upstairs that are currently used as bedrooms.  The yard with a wonderful outdoor shower offers a place to relax and enjoy friends while grilling your favorite summer foods. A very sweet cottage with all the charm the Cape has to offer.

 

Here are just a few photos to give you a taste but this home is an absolute gem! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Client Testimonials

 Ed and Agnes are thoughtful, insightful, and responsive Realtors®. We have used their services many times--both selling and buying property--over the last 15 years. We have also referred them to other people, many times, with great results. They are completely reliable and trustworthy (as well as being highly organized) and they know the market well. We recommend them without reservation to anyone. 

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