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Home Owner Tips

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.  

 

Homeownership on Cape Cod Part II

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

 

Cape Cod Homeownership

Septic Systems

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

Local Building and Construction in Brief

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

Utilities

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

Homeownership on Cape Cod Part I

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

 

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

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

Assessed Values

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

 

Town & County Specific Information

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

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

 

Spring Cleanup adds value to your home | Real Estate | Cape Cod

Maximize the Sale Price of Your Home this Spring

    Potential sellers always ask us about the best ways to maximize the sale price of their home.  Even before we begin the conversation we frequently see defeat in their eyes because they expect us to name big big ticket items like kitchens, roofs, or bathrooms.  While these can indeed help to maximize return we think these three low-cost projects are an excellent use of homeowner resources.  

1. Landscaping

    We understand, trying to maintain a yard on Cape Cod is asking a lot. Pitch pine needles and salt spray are not conducive to green and lush grass, but who says you have to have perfect grass to have curb appeal?  Using local plants that thrive on the Cape is a great way to improve the health of the local ecosystem as well as make your home feel like it fits into the landscape.  Check out the link here for more information on local species.  Furthermore simple clean-up tasks like edging and mulching your flowers, cutting your grass, and removing downed trees and branches all improve the look and feel of your home.

2. Wash and Paint

    Now don't get too excited, we understand that painting trim and siding is an expensive job for a professional and time consuming for the owner-enthusiast.  However peeling paint can be an immediate turn off to potential buyers so here is our recommendation - wash the house and touch-up the paint.  Washing doesn't have to involve a professional company - a garden hose and sturdy brush will clean much of what needs to be taken care of.  Rain splatters dirt around the foundation and shaded areas provide excellent habitat for mildew, moss, or lichen.  Pay special attention to removing mildew in corners and on or around gutters.   

  Painting can seem onerous as well but the good news is that it really isn't that bad.  Keeping up with flakes and chips every spring adds years to the life of a paint job and makes your home look well-tended and loved (which adds a lot of value).  Open a paint can (that matches the color please) and spend a few minutes a day walking around and retouching. 

3. Do That 'Honey-Do'

    All homeowner's have a project in the yard that makes them say,  'I really do need to get this done'.  Weeding paths, planting flower boxes, fixing broken fence rails, repairing screens or cracked glass, etc... stop procrastinating and do it already.  Those little projects are on your list and they will be on a buyer's as well.  No one wants something preventing the sale of their home, so take care of that nagging thing today.  

 

 

  One example is 9 Osborn Snow Drive, East Dennis.  While we all wish we could have such a spectacular luxury home we can still learn a lot from its neat and tidy planted gardens and ornamental plants that are BELOW the windows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Here is another wonderful home, 41 Deacon Court, Barnstable.  Notice the neatly kept crushed stone driveway, low plants and maintained paint.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Here is a beautiful example of a new listing coming soon to the market.  23 Millers Road South Dennis.  We choose it as our stellar example of a perfectly maintained Cape Ranch.  

 

 

 

 

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