COVID-19

Surviving and thriving during COVID lock-down: Part 1

We hope this finds you all hale and hearty in these trying times!  We are thankful to still be open for business and meeting the real estate needs of our clients, for a little more detail on how we are managing this please see our previous blog here.  Today we wanted to share the first of a few ideas for how to improve your home to add value (since you may have spare time these days), whether you are thinking of selling this year or in the future.

Quality of Life and Aesthetic Improvements

BeforeWAftere always recommend that you undertake upgrades that will make you enjoy your home more!  If you can afford it, don't wait 20 years to replace a bathroom you hate, improve and enjoy it now while you are living in your home.  Some sellers stress about doing these improvements just before selling and often don't reap monetary benefits as a results (see our blog about recouping investment on upgrades here).  You can even undertake very inexpensive projects that improve the overall look and livability of your home that - while mostly intended for you - also make your home more appealing when selling.  See the after and before photos (before has the mess of wires on the right) of a quick organization of home electronics.  This makes your home more livable for you and, by being tidy and neat, can improve buyers' first impressions.  A visibly clean and orderly home with very few 'punch-list' items implies that the owners are taking care of larger, invisible maintenance items -- this can have significant positive impacts by attracting higher and earlier offers when selling

If you are considering listing your home, please give us a call to put two generations of tradition and three decades of experience in your pocket.  For some more tips for homeowners check out our blogs tagged here.

 

Surviving and thriving during COVID lock-down: Part 2

Cape Cod Rail Trail - A. BebrinAfter making it through the longest March ever, we’re now staring down an equally long April spent in lockdown. For a society that’s usually lamenting never having enough time to do the things we want, we’re now facing a month’s worth of hours to fill. 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. In my experience, it does help to find something small, and feasible, to accomplish, to have some semblance of control - at least over your own life and space. So, if you could use some ideas to help fill these many, many hours in isolation, I’ve got your back.

Nickerson State Park TrailsBird *is* the word: The weather is finally getting nicer, and while we’re all cooped up inside, the birds are back in action! Cape Cod boasts a diverse population of feathered former-dinos, which you can observe out your own windows. Provided that you’re staying the recommended 6 feet away from any other burgeoning birders, the Cape Cod Rail Trail and local conservation trails are also great places to spot Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Ospreys, and more. Mass Audubon has tons of materials to help you identify the birds you do see -- I would not recommend trying to Google them based on a loose series of descriptors. “Small bird black red patches” does not return the results you want and also Google will think you’re having a stroke. 

Actually tackling your honey-do/home improvement list: As any professional procrastinator knows, there comes a point when you’ve exhausted your entire list of activities and are still so bored that you’re willing to do things that you’ve been avoiding for years. This is the moment to rid your closet and bureau of all those clothes that don’t fit you; to finally organize that drawer/pile of miscellaneous mail, accessories, and free promotional stuff; to patch and repaint the hole in the bathroom wall where you *accidentally* ripped down the towel bar two years ago. Extra points will be awarded if you choose to do anything on the outside of your house, or that involves the words ‘lawn clean-up’ or ‘mulch.’ 

Check in again for more great things to do on Cape Cod next week!  And click here to contact us with any questions about buying and selling real estate - and enjoying all that Cape Cod has to offer.

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. 

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

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%