Blog :: 2020

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. 

Cape Cod Market Update July 2020

June Review:

June led to some interesting market outcomes. Obviously much of the real estate market, and society, continues to be influenced by the reality of COVID-19. This has, however, impacted the Cape Cod market in an unusual way. According to the NAR Market Recovery Survey, 60% of urban markets are paused or slowly entering recovery. This is not what we are experiencing here on the Cape. June saw a 76% increase from 2019 in pending sales (sales that have signed contracts but are not yet completed). This is, frankly, incredible. Obviously after nearly 3 months in phase 1 of reopening, and historically low interest rates, the pent-up demand from buyers came to a head in June. Cape Cod continues to provide a lifestyle many people find appealing and June demonstrated this like we have never seen before. While buyer demand is way up, we continue to experience a dearth of available housing, indicated by inventory down nearly 40% from this time last year. July sales are usually a bit slower as people settle into the summer season but, frankly, we don't see it happening this year folks.  However, if you are looking for a getaway from the craziness in your area, we do still have a few weeks available in August at our seasonal vacation rentals. Stay healthy and safe everyone!

Contact us today, we are always glad to discuss the market in further detail if you have questions. For more market data check out our blog category Real Estate Trends.

Recent Market Summary

    Apr     May     June  
    Closed Sales    264     239     419  
   Inventory     1,455     1,479     1,296  
   Median Sales Price   $440K     $455K     $475k  
   Avg Days on Market    116     102     108  
   Avg % of Original Price    95%     95%     95%  

Ahhhh... Summer on Cape Cod Part 2

July, at last! Summer’s here and everyone has an opinion on how you should spend your time here on the Cape. So little time, so many things to choose from! Whatever you do, don’t miss out on these classics….

Water, water everywhere: If wheels and walks aren’t your jam, watercraft is also about as Cape Cod as it gets. While Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound, and the National Seashore are the obvious bodies of water, the Cape also boasts a ton of freshwater ponds and the Bass River. Take in the scenery from a new angle in a kayak or pedal boat, or subtly show off your killer core strength and impressive balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Either way, being out on the water is its own form of relaxation and meditation, with the added perk of seeing all the native flora and fauna. Am I the only one who yells, “bird” every time I see a bird? I think not. The Pump House in Orleans, Cape Cod Waterways in Dennis, and Down Cape in Harwich provide a variety of rental craft and locales to explore! 

The big screen (literally): One of my favorite memories of vacationing on the Cape was going to the drive-in. It didn’t matter if I’d seen the movie before -- there’s something so novel about watching it outside, wrapped up in a cozy blanket, occasionally heckling the out-of-state SUV in front of you for opening their tailgate halfway through the film. From choosing the perfect spot to park, to setting up the beach chairs and forgetting just how long Jaws really is, the drive-in is a must-do when you’re here on the Cape. This year especially, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the Cape while keeping a safe distance!
The Wellfleet Drive-In has been around since the 50’s and is a Cape Cod landmark in its own right! It has nightly showings during the summer, changing weekly. If you’re in the Mid-Cape region, both Yarmouth and Hyannis have screenings as well: Yarmouth’s calendar starts July 12th, and Hyannis is operating on Fridays into August. 

I could keep going about all the ‘quintessential’ Cape things to do -- mini-golfing, bridge traffic, waiting two hours for a table on a Saturday night. But truly, the heart of Cape Cod is all the people who choose to come here to make memories, be it for a week, the season, or their whole lives. So however you decide to fill your time here this summer, remember to wash your hands, wear your mask in public, and give people space wherever you can. This is a special place to spend any amount of time, so thank you for helping us keep our wonderful community healthy and thriving!

Check in next week, when I break down which beaches are the best for soaking up all this gorgeous sunshine.

Ahhhh... Summer on Cape Cod Part 1

Ahh, summer on Cape Cod. The thing we dream of all year long: breeze-kissed beaches, lobster rolls eaten on wooden picnic tables, and sitting in traffic on 6A behind someone who absolutely does not know how to take a left turn. 
And while “quintessential” is one of those words that I could easily go without ever hearing again, along with “unprecedented” and “the Big Lebowski,” there are a few activities that qualify as being quintessential Cape Cod things to do and live up to the hype (beaches and dining out are deserving of their own dedicated posts, so we’ll save those for another time).

Bike Rides: Have you ever really vacationed on the Cape if you haven’t spent at least one sweltering August afternoon, biking uphill both ways (somehow) on the Cape Cod Rail Trail? Bonus points if you have, or were, a patently miserable child riding one of those half-bike attachments (official name: Alleycat)! The bike path is a great socially-distant activity that really makes you appreciate nature, time spent with your loved ones, and how awful humidity is. 
Orleans and Eastham have bike rentals convenient to the bike path, or bring your own and park at any of the free CCRT lots. Be sure to call or check the websites for Covid-related policies currently in place. 
** A couple points of etiquette: as a cyclist, when you’re passing people on the trail, it is customary to give them a heads-up by saying, "on your left". When crossing the road, be sure to dismount, make sure traffic can see you and stops for you, and then walk across to the other side. As a pedestrian, you have the right of way, but if you cycle your bike across the road, you’re a cyclist and the oncoming cars get to decide whether to let you pass or not. **

Stroll & Snack: Maybe you’re like me, and years of summer cycle treks have left you scarred for life. Or maybe you prefer to avoid the parking lots that are routes 6, 6A, and 28. Either way, you’re happy to walk the trails, and if there’s a conveniently-located spot to get something to eat, what a delightful coincidence! Heading from Brewster to Eastham, Stone L’Oven, Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters, the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar are all bike-path adjacent places to pause your leisurely stroll and grab a delicious treat. Plus, it’s a long-standing Cape rule that any calories consumed during a walk or bike ride just don’t count. It is known. 

Stay tuned for part 2!
 

WHEREIN Amanda divulges her secrets in order to salvage everyone's summer on Cape Cod

Breakwater Beach BrewsterThis year has already been ten years long, and we’ve still got six months to go. After an interminable spring spent in isolation, warmer weather has us all dreaming of getting away from it all. Preferably while lying on a beach, and drinking something cold and bubbly.

Since Cape Cod is a prime destination within driving distance for several major metropolises, you can bet that we’ll still be having a summer season -- it’s just going to look a little different than years past. 

What should you expect? The same standards we’ve been practicing for months: if you’re unwell, stay home. If you’re out and about, wear a mask and keep your distance. Bring as much of what you need with you, and be patient with local restaurant workers, town employees and beach attendants, and other tourists as we all navigate this new system (and wash your hands!).

Fortunately for you, I am an introvert at heart and have built a whole social life around having minimal interaction with other people. So my suggestions for a fun and socially-distanced summer are as follows….

Depending on the town, beaches stop charging admission after 5pm (but close at dark), so make the most of the longer days and arrive later. Parking lots tend to be emptier later in the day, and you run less of a risk of getting completely sunburned your first day here! Red River Beach in Harwich and West Dennis Beach in Dennis both have ample parking lots and room to spread out.
Restaurants are allowed to offer patio service now and many are also still doing takeout. Pick somewhere you’ve never tried before, and a beach you’ve always wanted to go to, and enjoy sunset dinner with amazing water views (don’t forget the bug spray!). If you haven’t already, Encore in Dennis has truly incomparable bread pudding; at Rock Harbor in Orleans, try the prosciutto pizza; and for lobster rolls, there’s nowhere better than Sesuit Harbor Cafe (also in Dennis!). 
There will be drive-in movies in both Hyannis and Wellfleet this year! All the fun of going to the movies, with none of the annoyance of someone kicking your seat for the entirety of the show.
Holiday Hill in Dennis Port is the best mini-golf on the Cape, and yes, I am willing to fight about it. Wait until the heat breaks in the evening and see how long before a lighthearted, fun activity turns into a challenge of your competence as a human being. Let’s not forget that having a golf club to swing will encourage people to keep their distance!

Covid-19 has made this an exceptionally challenging year, and we’re not out of the woods yet. For all that people are excited to escape to the Cape, the cancellation of popular parades, fireworks, craft shows, and various Fests is a disappointment. But rest assured, it will still be a great summer. All the things that make Cape Cod wonderful are unchanged: the tantalizing array of food and beverages, the diverse natural splendor of our beaches and trails, and most importantly, the feeling of pushing ‘pause’ on reality to spend time with the people you love. So come, enjoy, stay healthy, relax and recharge.

Cape Cod Market Update June 2020

May Review:

  The May market felt continued pressure from COVID-19 resulting in uncharacteristically low new listings, closings and inventory. With so much pressure on the supply side, median sales price increased 6.4% from this time last year. Fortunately, Governor Baker's transition into phase 2 of reopening on June 8th has made both sellers and buyers more comfortable with the transaction process so we expect to see activity pick back up in the market (in fact we have already seen activity start to increase). While June 2020 likely won't be as busy as June 2019, we expect to see positive trends towards a more normal market continue. Additionally, short-term seasonal vacation rentals are now open with some restrictions as well as increased cleaning requirements and, with restaurants starting to open with limited capacity/outdoor seating, the Cape is on its way to a subdued but wonderful summer. Stay healthy and safe everyone!

Contact us today, we are always glad to discuss the market in further detail if you have questions. For more market data check out our blog category Real Estate Trends.

Recent Market Summary

    Mar     Apr     May  
    Closed Sales    326     264     239  
   Inventory     1,471     1,455     1,479  
   Median Sales Price   $441K     $440K     $455K  
   Avg Days on Market    124     116     102  
   Avg % of Original Price    94%     95%     95%  

Cape Cod Market Update May 2020

April Review:

  April certainly was a little unusual. When the Spring market should have been in full swing much came to a grinding halt instead. Closed sales were down 22% from April 2019 and saw a decrease from March 2020, which is unusual as well. We expect the trend of low sales to continue into May since the lagging indicator of number of pending homes (those that are under contract) was down 43% from April 2019.  Inventory was also low in April and was down nearly 60% from 2019, and was nearly flat from March, again an unusual thing to see when the Spring market should be taking off.

  Are we concerned? Well, not exactly.  While we do expect the overall trend of low home sales and inventory to continue for another month or two, depending on the timing of Governor Baker's 4 phase reopening plan, there are good things too.  First, we are open for business and doing business (see the blog from our agent, Amanda Bebrin, regarding what buying looks like with social distancing in place). If you need to buy or sell, we can, and are, getting it done. In the short-term there is pent up demand for homes and many sellers are waiting to list or have removed their homes from the market, so we expect a boom as more restrictions are eased. Second, mortgage rates are at near historic lows and if you are buying, now is a good time for financing. Third, short-term seasonal vacation rentals are open to essential workers and we look forward to having them open fully in phase 2, which may be as soon as June 8th. Finally, after working from home since March, we are eager to reopen the office to regular visitors and hours, following the outlined guidance from the Commonwealth. All of these things indicate that life will, soon, be getting back to normal. Stay healthy and safe everyone!

Contact us today, we are always glad to discuss the market in further detail if you have questions. For more market data check out our blog category Real Estate Trends.

Recent Market Summary

    Feb     Mar     Apr  
    Closed Sales    324     326     264  
   Inventory     1,426     1,471     1,455  
   Median Sales Price   $435K     $441K     $440K  
   Avg Days on Market    120     124     116  
   Avg % of Original Price    93%     94%     95%  

Guidance to Seasonal Community | Vacation Rentals | Cape Cod

We don't know what this summer will bring exactly, but we are hopeful that it will look somewhat normal.  Here we'll keep you up to date with the latest news and information about vacationing on Cape Cod. We would also like to take a brief moment to express our thanks to those essential workers who are putting themselves at risk to keep us all safe and healthy. If you can give, here are some guidelines on giving wisely.

Update 6/8: Short-term rentals are now open as a part of phase 2 of the governor's reopening plan. See here for more information on the lodgings regulations --HERE--

Update 5/18: The governor has included short-term vacation rentals in phase 2 of his reopening plan. This may start as soon as June 8th. View our available vacation rentals here

Update 5/14: We are awaiting firm guidance on whether short-term vacation rentals can proceed. We expect this information to be released on May 18th

Local Information

Please see our page with links to each town on Cape Cod as well as the local chambers of commerce and Barnstable County.  These websites are updated frequently with town specific information and guidelines. In addition the local Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors has a very helpful page on short-term vacation rentals --HERE--.

Massachusetts Information

In addition to the general state level guidelines the local State Representatives and Governor's Office, in conjunction with a number of Cape Cod healthcare and business partners, put out helpful guidance to our seasonal visitors on the Cape.  The original can be found --HERE--.

National Information

The CDC has a lot of useful information, updated frequently

House Hunting in the time of Coronavirus

It’s May! Usually by this time, the Spring real estate market is well underway as everyone wants to be settled into their dream Cape home by the summer. Flowers are blossoming, I’m yelling at people doing the Bloom Run (don’t worry, it’s my parents), and all of my buyers are patiently enduring my lecture about putting in competitive offers on the limited number of homes in their price range. 
Alas, this spring season is a bit different. The unfolding pandemic has canceled whatever plans we had, and it makes projecting out the rest of the year tricky at best. 
Real estate, though, never stops. Typically, that’s more a curse than a positive, as I debate answering emails at 1:00 am. But in this case, I take it as a good thing: a small semblance of normalcy in an otherwise upside-down reality. 
For local people, this is a great opportunity to look for homes with less competition than the standard spring market; for second- and vacation-homeowners, this might be the moment that *the* perfect house gets listed after years of searching. Whatever the case, it is still possible to look at the places you’re interested in -- given a little bit of planning and creativity, and an abundance of caution.

Get specific

I know, looking at houses is the most fun you can have for no money. In an era of FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s hard to pull the trigger when you feel like you haven’t seen absolutely every potential home -- no matter how remote the chance of it being the one. The National Association of Realtors is reporting that buyers are seeing an average of just 3 houses before putting in an offer, down from nine last year! So, get really specific about what makes your perfect Cape house. If you’re set on a certain town, number of bedrooms, or distance to the beach, now’s the time to let go of those super-iffy-maybe houses on your list that you know aren’t really a good fit.

To the Cloud

I *know*, you’re staying home and not casually cruising to the Cape to look at houses, so how are you supposed to know which ones aren’t a good fit? Technology, to the rescue! Most listing agents are now including video or virtual tours of the house in addition to pictures and (hopefully) floor plans. If you’re not seeing that listed, there’s a good chance I have access to it through the MLS. As a local resident, I’m also happy to do some recon for you in the form of your own personalized video tours, complete with my (priceless) color commentary. That should be enough to give you a feel for which houses are duds and which ones are worth seeing in person. 

Safety first, friends

For those of you who are in a position to do showings in the flesh, protocol is a little different these days. If normally you’d roll up with the whole crew (see #1), edit the list of attendees down to the decision makers. Four or five people -- your Realtor included -- is the largest group allowed at most showings now. You can expect the listing agent to wait outside, and that you’ll be asked to wear a mask and gloves. You might also be asked to remove your shoes or wear shoe covers, especially if the sellers are in residence, and to limit touching door knobs and furniture once inside. (You’ll also see me, Clorox-wiping everything as you move through the house. Five-star service over here, amirite? )


House hunting can be overwhelming and uncertain under the best of circumstances: it’s a lot of information, and decisions to make, not to mention money (YOUR money!) on the line. And right now, we are a long way from the best of anything. The good news is, you’re still in charge here, and you don’t have to do anything that you’re not comfortable with. If that means waiting a few months and seeing how things shake out, so be it. If you’re on a set timeline and absolutely have to buy, we’ll take all the precautions needed for you to be safe and feel confident moving through the process of buying your own piece of Cape Cod. 
Whatever you decide, we’re here to support you. If you want to talk it out, or send me questions or general concerns, go ahead. Even if it’s one in the morning….I’ll still be up, answering emails. 

Surviving and thriving during COVID lock-down: Part 3

Continuing our series on how to make the best of an unusual situation we bring back Amanda Bebrin for her thoughts.

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. So, if you could use some ideas to help fill these many, many hours in isolation, I’ve got your back.

Sweat it out:

The on-going difficulty of our lives generates a lot of stress, which is not good to carry around all day long. A handy way to stop thinking about how 2020 is a garbage fire is to do an activity so strenuous that you can’t think about anything else. Maybe you’ve heard about yoga? A cursory YouTube search will give you several year’s worth of content -- or, you can support a local studio like Power Yoga of Cape Cod, which is offering classes via Zoom throughout the week. The classes are rigorous and the wonderful instructors offer adaptations for a variety of skill levels. Plus, since you’re participating online, no one will notice when you lose your balance in downward-facing dog. 

Focusing on anything but memes and headlines:

Mental exertion is just as important as physical exercise, especially if it occupies your hands allowing you to put down your phone. Classics like chess, jigsaw puzzles, card games, and board games are being dug out of closets and basements all over the country (and immediately reminding you and your loved ones why you hid them away in the first place….sometimes it’s okay to let the children win at Connect 4, DAD!). Or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, this is the perfect moment to attempt whatever trendy craft you keep seeing on Pinterest! Hand-lettering, knitting, and embroidery are all the rage -- and also have a ton of resources to help get you going. The act of creation is always a nice endorphin boost when everything else is a hot mess. (Try Puzzles from Sativa -- in Harwich).

There are a ton of articles and lists going around the internet about how to be making the most of this time (this one included), that you should be coming out of quarantine with a new skill, or side hustle, or your house in perfect condition. For many people, that’s just not at all possible. And for all of us: this is a global pandemic. Everything is in flux, and there will be no going back to the way things were before, for better and for worse. Right now, there is no agenda other than surviving. So if at the end of all of this, if the “only” thing you’ve managed to do is keep yourself alive and relatively sane, that’s enough.

….But if you do happen to see a cool bird or make a craft that you’re super proud of and post in on Instagram (as you should), please tag me. I’ve done everything on this list and still have 22 hours of my day left to fill!

Cape Cod Market Update April 2020

March Review:

Well, life looked a lot different in March than we are used to and we can only assume that any changes the Cape Cod real estate market felt in March are merely the beginning of a trend line that we do not yet have a full view of. Some good news is that Gov. Baker has deemed real estate an essential service so we are still able to perform all of our normal functions, but with some adaptation based on the social distancing recommendations. This is crucial as it allows for home purchases, often not remotely discretionary, to continue in an otherwise crazy time. Looking at last month here is what we know.  Inventory is down significantly from this time last year, by approximately 20%.  Additionally we did not see a significant rise in the number of new listings and some homeowners chose to temporarily withdraw their properties from the market in light of COVID-19.  These factors have resulted in a mere 3% gain in inventory instead of the 8% gain we saw for the same period in 2019.  Another important point here is that the magnitude of the shutdown was not felt until the middle of March so these numbers do not reflect a market completely under the current lock-down guidelines. However closings were up compared to 2019.  This is likely because the time that it takes for transactions to finalize, typically 45 days, means many of these closings were initiated back in January.  We expect that this lack of inventory may push prices up further in the short-term though the longer-term consequences of a nation's economy stuck in first gear are much more difficult to predict. However, mortgage rates are at record lows and the increased number of closings in March indicated what would have been a strong Spring market if not for the lock-down. We are hoping that enough of the emergency economic measures for renters and homeowners will keep people in their homes safe and healthy. Stay healthy and safe yourself!

Contact us today, we are always glad to discuss the market in further detail if you have questions. For more market data check out our blog category Real Estate Trends.

Recent Market Summary

    Jan     Feb     Mar  
    Closed Sales    270     324     326  
   Inventory     1,397     1,426     1,471  
   Median Sales Price   $431K     $435K     $441K  
   Avg Days on Market    108     120     124  
   Avg % of Original Price    93%     93%     94%