Blog :: 03-2018

After more than 25 years of living, working and playing on Cape Cod we have a lot to share about the area.  Our blog topics run the gamut from fun things to do, working with contractors, and homeownership tips and tricks, so check back frequently to see what's new.  If you have questions or would like to learn more about Cape Cod or owning property on this beautiful peninsula please contact us for more information and to set up a showing for any listing. 

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.