Have you ever walked past a lawn dotted with little colored flags? Each one marks the underground location of a utility service, and it doesn't matter where you go-- in every state in America, the colors signify the same thing.
In Massachusetts, no matter how small the excavation project, whether you install a new mailbox or you plant a tree or shrub, you are required by law to get your property marked first. How realistic that gardeners always call Dig Safe when they move plants around in their yard? I don't know. I've not known any individual gardener who ever did that. But moving along...
The six New England states use a not-for-profit company called Dig Safe as the liason between property owners who wish to dig, and the participating utility companies with lines beneath the ground. Before you begin your project you must call Dig Safe by dialing 811 on your phone. Lines are staffed Monday through Friday from 6:00 am till 6:00 pm. Make sure you do this at least before 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, prior to the dig. Dig Safe will give you a ticket number as proof of your effort and they'll notify the utility companies to come out and flag your lines.
Utility companies are not required to participate with Dig Safe, although the vast majority do. In the event one of your providers does not belong to Dig Safe, you'll have to notify that company yourself. Here is a list of member utility companies.
And here are the various colors and what they mark. Note that white flags signify where the proposed dig will take place.
For more information on Dig Safe, click here. And for a brief look at how Dig Safe works, enjoy this Dig Safe Video.
Summer is nearly over and there is no denying it. Things were different this year. Last October's fatal shark attack of 26 year old boogie-boarder Arthur Medici after two shark attacks on victims who survived, changed everything. We used to tout the statistical improbability of an attack as we splashed in the surf, and now we announce there's no way we'd swim in the depths we used to.
Officials have been forced to take action. When poor cell phone coverage delayed the emergency response to the shark attack, landline phones were installed on the east-facing beaches. Royal purple flags featuring white sharks flap in the breeze at the beaches where lifeguards now have special training to stop bleeding.
One of the more visible signs of the change is in the sky. Those planes that used to trail ribbon banners advertising beer and nightspots? Now it's spotter planes which relentlessly scan the shoreline looking for sharks who get too close.
Personally, I'm happy to adjust my expectations of what the beach can provide for me, and to join in the excitement of the restoration of the ocean ecosystem. Grey seals, the great white shark delicacy, are back in huge numbers after federal protection. While some advocates call for killing the seals, most Cape Codders accept that nature will control the population-- with the sharks.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy leads the effort to fund research and educate the public. Their "Sharktivity" app is enormously popular, with alerts pinged to cell phones when a shark is spotted and a beach is closed for an hour. My phone has been blowing up this month-- peak activity for sharks on the Cape.
The New York Times featured a story this week on sharks on the Cape and included a video, below, of local shark expert Greg Skomal and his team of researchers searching for sharks off Chatham. It's hard not feel their enthusiasm.
Remember, no shark ever walked onto a beach to attack someone. We are safe here. The land is for us, the water is for them. In between is that fuzzy area where we long for a dip in the refreshing waters of Cape Cod, and coming home again to tell about it.
Where climate science is concerned, the data don't lie. June was the hottest year on record. July is on track for that as well. We had three confirmed tornado touchdowns on the Cape last week, two in Yarmouth, and a third, the fiercest, in Harwich where downed and damaged trees are everywhere you look in town. Prior to this, there were only three tornadoes ever on the Cape.
Earlier this month Dr. John Holdren, professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Harvard University, came to the Cape to let us know climate change is already here and disrupting life on Cape Cod. He said the Cape is losing 30 acres per year to increasingly severe storms and to rising seas.
Our friends at The Association to Preserve Cape Cod and Lower Cape TV, filed this report after Holdren's address at the Chatham Community Center:
As Holdren reminds us, we don't have to accept that the climate change must occur. We can fight it. We can become involved in organizations and support businesses and candidates for public office who are committed to mitigating the causes of a warming planet.
To find out more about The Association to Preserve Cape Cod and to sign up for it's newsletter, click here. It's a start.
I've witnessed my share of extreme weather-- blizzards in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, a hurricane on the Cape, straight-line 130-mph winds in Syracuse and now my first tornado.
As you may have heard, Yarmouth and Harwich were hit with a "strong" F1 tornado with winds of 110 mph yesterday. Not since 1977 has the Cape had a confirmed twister.
It all happened so fast. Late Tuesday morning I got an alert on my phone that warned a tornado was imminent. Power to all of Harwich went out soon after that. Within minutes, the sky turned an odd, bright, twilight yellow-blue, a fact that foretold trouble ahead. That's how my dad described the sky before the Worcester tornado struck in 1953. Then the tops of the trees started swaying.
I went to my eastern living room window, and at 12:20 pm, started recording.
OK by now I was pretty scared and wondering if a tree in my front yard, out of view at left, was going to come into the house. You can hear trees and branches breaking off. So I put the phone down and went to my basement stairs, ready to go down in the dark. But my old news instinct kicked in and I went back to the window. In that brief break in the center of the house, I had missed witnessing stuff come down. I started recording again.
In an unlikely setting in North Harwich, lies a winery run by a passionate chemistry major in college turned eye doctor, turned vintner. Dr. Frank Puzio owns and operates First Crush Winery in a business park of light industry and warehouses. What First Crush lacks in topography-- the rolling hills of the Napa Valley, the finger lakes of upstate New York, even the backdrop of grapevines and colonial homes in Truro-- it makes up for with verve. Puzio is passionate about the intersection of art and science in a bottle of wine. In fact, once you walk through the door, the barrels, the natural wood on the walls, the grand marble table imported from Italy, all make you forget about the corrugated steel outside. Few wineries in the country-- even those in the wine-growing regions, grow all the grapes they need to produce their blends. Puzio imports his grapes from California and crushes them on-site in North Harwich.
First Crush Winery was the scene last night of a wine-tasting and tour for Cape Cod realtors who refer their clients to RMS Mortgage and Betsy Kelly, esq., our hosts.
Extra points for the cheese and charcuterie trays, brought in from Wegmans off Cape. Those of us who formerly lived in New York state enjoyed that familiar taste of home we can't find anywhere near Cape Cod.
Dr. Frank shared his knowledge about winemaking, offered up tastings and full glasses-- yum!-- and patiently answered all our questions. It was a novel, delicious and educational evening.
So a special thanks to Attorney Betsy Kelly and to RMS Mortgage reps Eric Steenstra and Toni Rubino-Constantino for cooking up a fun time.
First Crush Winery offers tastings and tours. And if you'd like to learn a little more about their winemaking process, check out the video below.
I hosted some dear pals from New York City this weekend. One of them admired the woven nylon rope doormats I have outside my home. They're called Cape Cod Doormats. Original, right? You find them in all the hardware stores and home centers on the Cape, but you can also find them online, at capecoddoormats.com.
Along with onion globe lamps, blue hydrangeas and weathered cedar shingles, Cape Cod doormats last years and years, and are "required" for a true Cape Cod look for your home.
To see how these mats are made, by hand, one at a time, right here in Hyannis, check out this video by WCVB-TV's Chronicle.
While catching up on twitter this morning, I happened upon a post from "Syracuse Nostalgia" . The user had uploaded yet another newscast from the archives of WTVH-TV. This particular program was the 5:00 pm news with my friend David Muir.
I anchored hundreds of newscasts over my 27 year career as a television journalist but don't remember this particular one. It was a routine weeknight newscast among so many others. But I was struck by several things. First of all, 1999? Are you kidding me? That was yesterday and also 20 years ago. It doesn't seem possible.
I remember when I looked like that. I remember that pale pink silk jacket and muted navy silk shell you see on camera, and the short little matching pale pink skirt I was wearing, that you couldn't see. I remember my crisp Princess Diana haircut, a version of which every professional woman wore at the time. TV anchor women in particular fell into line with that style. Watch the news today and you'll see they now wear a new hair uniform-- longer with loose beach waves.
Check out the graphic over my shoulder. It's Hillary Clinton-- also with a Princess Diana haircut, exploring a run for the U.S. Senate. Now that seems like a long time ago. When viewed through the trajectory of her life-- First Lady at the time of this newscast, to U.S. Senator from N.Y., to U.S. Secretary of State and ultimately to the first woman running for President, I'm really aware of the passage of 20 years.
But back to the newscast. It was anchored by myself and David Muir who is a Syracuse native and who began his career at WTVH. Like Hillary Clinton, his career path was extraordinary. He soon went to WCVB in Boston and then to ABC News where he remains today, as the anchor of ABC World News Tonight. In his time at the network, David has interviewed Hillary Clinton at least twice that I can recall. But we couldn't foresee all that when this newscast was recorded in 1999.
There is a health segment in this newscast. In it, reporter Donna Adamo sites the news that Americans were living longer than ever before. 20 years hence, that's no longer true. Citizens of other countries enjoy ever longer lifespans, but Americans are going in reverse.
Even with the passage of 20 years, much remains the same, especially when you look at the newscast. Local TV news sets haven't evolved that much really. They're still lead mostly by a man and a woman at the desk, who "toss" with pleasantries, to the meteorologist whose green screen and computers are a few short feet away.
Local news includes a few stories of that community, but plenty of national and world news as well. And way back then, we were encouraging people to go to our TV station website. We could see how important this new method of communicating information would become.
In the 20 years since this newscast aired, my four little children grew up. Beautifully, I must say. I got married and divorced, lost both of my parents. The recession hit-- there went my career. I got a dog, then another. They both grew old and died. I realized my goal of returning to my native New England and living on Cape Cod. I began a new career in real estate. My Syracuse pals cheered me on and I made new friends too. I bought a little place in Florida to escape the cold. All in 20 years. Wow.
Now, want to catch up on the day's news? At least, from Syracuse, N.Y. on a routine day in June, 1999? With thanks to our friends at SyracuseNostalgia.com, here you go:
I read an article in today's Wall Street Journal about Fort Worth, Texas becoming increasingly popular with home buyers. But there was quick mention of a luxury home that was sold with all the furniture and I thought, wow, it's not just a Cape Cod thing.
Half of the homes on Cape Cod are vacation properties. When it's time to sell the house, owners often have no use for the furniture-- they already have a furnished house off-Cape. Or sometimes grown children in far places must sell their late parent's Cape house from a distance and they have no idea what to do with the dated furniture. The luxury house in Fort Worth, TX, had beautiful decor that was gorgeous in that particular home.
More than ever, for many reasons, houses are being sold fully furnished.
The Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors doesn't track whether furnishings "convey" with the real estate-- I'm speaking from my own experience as a realtor on the Cape. I've sold many homes with the furniture included through the years. Of the three listings I currently have, and the two coming online in the next few days, the furnishings are included with three of them, and negotiable with the remaining two.
Sometimes a property listing specifies that the furniture comes with the house, but other times, the furniture comes up privately in negotiations between the buyer and the seller. Even later in the process, when the sellers see how difficult it is to clear out a house before the closing date, they often ask if they can leave the furniture behind, even though they insisted earlier in the process that they wanted it.
For their part, buyers love that they don't have to come up with the money to buy everything all at once, either for a first home, a vacation home, or a home they intend to offer to the summer rental market. Some plan to replace the furnishings little by little as their budget and time allows, but the jumpstart of a fully or mostly furnished house is a bonus.
Here are some considerations when furniture sells with the house:
Real estate attorneys are loathe to deal with "personal property"-- furniture, versus "real property"-- the house and land. Therefore,
When handled properly, the sale of a home with all the furnishings can be a bonus for both buyer and seller. Look for more such sales in the future. The days of furniture being more attached to the house than to the people who lived with it, are here.
I love this little yellow house. You don't see many homes in yellow on the Cape-- people gravitate toward the gray shingles, or white clapboard. So the yellow is such a sunny surprise for me.
And it's sweet on the inside too, a much loved home that has become too small for the owners who consolidated their winter home into their summer one. Otherwise, they wouldn't give it up.
Three bedrooms, one and a half baths, an updated kitchen and two comfortable places to plop, this property at 215 Lower County Rd. in West Harwich, just a dozen houses from Grey Neck Beach, is offered at $489,000.
Call or text to 617-637-6711 to tour this home. You can be in in time for summer.
Boston and Woods Hole, Mass. land in Realtor.com's latest survey of the ten most expensive zip codes in the country.
Researchers limited each state to only two zip codes to prevent one location such as New York City from dominating the list, but within that list, only Massachusetts and California had two zip codes each.
Here is the top ten list of wealthiest neighborhoods in America.
There are tons of beautiful homes for sale on Cape Cod. If you'd like help buying or selling any one of them, at any price point, let me know. I'm here for you.
Our shark "situation" on Cape Cod gives us a dubious distinction. The tragic, fatal shark attack in Wellfleet in September remains the lone shark fatality in the U.S. for 2018.
Whether you're terrified and no longer swimming here, or you're buying shark plush toys for kids, or you have a scientist's fascination with them, great white sharks are commanding a lot of attention.
I recently found this video of National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry employing a boat, a seal decoy and a drone to capture a photo of the elusive predator just offshore last summer. I hope you enjoy it. And know that, while you plan your next summer vacation on Cape Cod, there are scores of officials in the public and private sector working diligently to keep our waters safe.
Cranberries-- those tart little antioxidant powerhouses, are one of the many things that makes Cape Cod special. The Cape has a rich Cranberry growing history dating back to the 18th century. Little has changed in this industry since then. Our abundant salt water floods the fields every October to float the berries to the top.
I was driving by one of the harvests the other day. The first thing I noticed was that a familiar green field now looked like a lake big enough for a small boat. But a closer look reveals something very different--men standing only knee-deep in waders, pulling solid rakes across a surface of red. The "lake" is only temporary. The bog is intentionally flooded to allow the mature berries to float to the top. Once the berries are gathered and hauled away by the truckload, the bog is drained and the field goes to bed for the winter.
The site of this brief harvest always attracts onlookers, as we take in the quiet seasonal beauty of Cape Cod in autumn. I hope you enjoy this little video, taken on the fly in Harwich
Just in time to take advantage of the "Ahhhh Season" on Cape Cod. Cape Codders think September and October are the best months. What better way to celebrate than with your own little place to plop? Check out this adorable, fully furnished and sophisticated space. Use it for yourself, rent it out, house the in-laws, au pair or overflow guests. So many possibilities. Call or text me at 617-637-6711 to view in person.
Some deserving Cape Cod homeowners will get much-needed home repairs when an army of volunteers descends on Harwich later this month. "The Big Fix" works with the Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod to identify needy homeowners having trouble maintaining their properties, according to Anne Van Vleck, Corporate Development Officer. "It's seniors, military veterans and the disabled who need the help most" says Van Vleck. Van Vleck says interested homeowners go through an application process to determine income eligibility and need. "The homeowners are tremendously moved and grateful for the help they get during The Big Fix".
In prior years, The Big Fix has helped dozens of homeowners in Barnstable, Dennis, Sandwich, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Bourne, Brewster and Falmouth. As many as 275 citizens roll up their sleeves and join teams, depending on their skills. Painting, landscaping, minor carpentry, plumbing and electrical work are among the tasks performed at the homes.
I will join some of my fellow Cape Cod Realtors helping homeowners in Harwich Saturday, September 22. We'll assemble at Monomoy High School and be assigned a team and a property. Corporate Sponsors will provide food and the necessary tools. They also donate funds to the Housing Assistance Corporation for its core mission of helping Cape Codders with housing education and assistance.
To learn more about the Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod, click here. To register as a volunteer for The Big Fix, or to make a donation, go here, and to see a before and after of last year's Big Fix effort in Falmouth, enjoy the video below.
Check out this list of home decor items by state, assembled by Next Day Blinds and published recently on Domino.
Botanicals top the list in Massachusetts. Elsewhere in New England, throw blankets (Connecticut), picture frames (Rhode Island), wall decor (New Hampshire), wall art (Vermont), and prints (Maine) round out the list.
Neighboring New York prefers mirrors most in home decor. Washington likes "jars"of all things, Wyoming seeks lanterns and Alabama covets poufs.
Random items for sure.
While visitors to Cape Cod see the familiar gray shingles that make up the classic Cape home style, homeowners are seeing red. Prices on cedar shingles are up 20 percent, swept up in a trade war between the U.S. and Canada-- the main exporter of cedar.
Tony Shepley of Shepley Wood Products says Cape Cod has the highest concentration of gray shingles in the country. Shingles make up 10 percent of the cost of a new home, Shepley says in an article published on Bloomberg.
Cedar shingles make the perfect siding for coastal homes. They hold up well against the salt air and are naturally insect-resistant. They don't need painting or staining. Put them up and you get 20 years of maintenance-free use on the southern exposure of a home, 30 years on the east and west sides, and 40 years or more on the north face. Plus, they have a look you see only on the coast. Cedar shingles applied away from the ocean weather a streaky brown rather than white/gray.
With prices so high, Shepley predicts some homeowners will turn to manufactured shingles that mimic the shingle look, but are comprised of composite materials or vinyl.
When it comes to putting our remodeling dollars to good use, Massachusetts homeowners prefer tackling their kitchens, according to a google study conducted by the design blog, Pots, Planters and More.
In fact, this infographic created by domino.com shows the entire New England region overwhelmingly loves improving kitchens.
Here is the key.
Some of the findings shouldn't come as any surprise. Homeowners in the desert southwest and California prefer to spend their renovation dollars on creating a backyard oasis. You would think the same would hold true for the Sunshine State of Florida, but no, Floridians want a great bathroom.
How about South Carolinians who are the only Americans focused on renovating their front porch? I think if I lived in South Carolina, I would live on the front porch too.
And what does it say about midwesterners who focus most on the bedroom? Hmmm.
Note also that in Wyoming and Colorado, lands of big sky and mountain peaks, homeowners are going underground to create amazing basements.
On Cape Cod it seems whole house renovations are the most popular project these days. Flush with cash from a big gain in the stock market in 2017, homeowners are taking some of the gain to dig new foundations, replace windows and roofs, and create great bathrooms and yes-- this is Massachusetts, great kitchens too.
For more information on the design study, go to potsplantersandmore.com.
Residential homeowners on the mid- Cape who wish to connect their homes to natural gas can now get on a waiting list. That was the announcement to local real estate agents this morning by Bill Ciocca, National Grid Community Service Manager.
National Grid's enormous, $80 million expansion of the natural gas transmission lines from the Cape Cod bridges to Eastham is three-quarters of the way completed. "When we bought Keyspan Energy, we bought all the assets under the ground, and we didn't even know what they were" said Ciocca. In exploring the system capacity in 2014, National Grid discovered perilously inadequate supply lines, in some places, no more than four-inches in diameter, with an industry standard of twelve inches. The utility immediately shut down new residential and commercial gas installations.
The demand for natural gas on Cape Cod has never been greater, as the Cape switches from oil heat to gas. Recently, the four nor'easters in March that shut down power to 75 percent of Cape Cod spurred a ten-fold increase in inquiries about household generators, according to Ciocca.
There is a lot of confusion about what can and what cannot be hooked up to natural gas as the five-year moratorium continues. Ciocca says if your existing gas meter can handle the BTU demand of a new item such as a firepit, outdoor grill or indoor range, then you can attach that item now. A plumber would be able to tell you if your gas meter can handle the additional BTU load. Generators are heavy natural gas users, and most likely would need to wait until the moratorium is lifted, Ciocca says.
National Grid also announced that when the system is reopened, the utility will install the first 200 feet of gas line from the street to your home, something for which homeowners used to be charged. Gas lines exceeding 200 feet will cost homeowners $30 per foot.
The project on the lower Cape is on track to be completed at the end of 2019. To download an application for a new natural gas hookup for your home, or for more information on the project in general, go to the National Grid's website.
Pets have been on my mind a lot lately. My 14 year old mini-dachshund has decrepit little kidneys and was given a death sentence last Christmas, but he's still here, slow, smelly, but otherwise still enjoying his life.
Three years ago his german shepherd "sister" died at the age of 13 and a half. And I include that last half year because shepherds don't often last beyond 12. My Eika was my sweetheart.
Recently two of my office mates put down their beloved dog who provided love and loyalty for 9 years.
This is the time of life when the dogs my friends and I got for our children are wearing out and dying off. We're all walking around with holes in our hearts.
The New York Times this week published a commentary titled "The Pain of Loving Old Dogs". Of her old dog Clarke, columnist Margaret Renkl wrote "He was the dog of our sons’ childhood, the pillow they sprawled on during Saturday-morning cartoons, the security blanket they returned to after an impossible test or a classroom bully or, later, a broken heart." We all had or have a dog like that.
Dogs don't just expand our hearts, they enliven our homes. The National Association of Realtors reports that 95 percent of homebuyers believe it is important that a housing community make room for pets.
Here are some other stats from the NAR about the power of pets.
I'll wind this down with some laughter. Long before dogs were old, they were young. And very cute and very funny.
Enjoy the video.
The Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters in Brewster was singled out as the "most beautiful" coffee shop in Massachusetts, in the January 18, 2018 issue of Architectural Digest.
In a visually striking online post, the magazine offers the most beautifully designed coffee spaces for all 50 states. Of The Snowy Owl, the editors wrote, "Evoking a modern barn, the rustic wood beams and globe light fixtures—along with Persian rugs and warm reds—make Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters café feel like a friend’s getaway cabin".
Accolades are nothing new to the owners. The Snowy Owl has been recognized by several "Best Of" awards by Cape Cod Life and Cape Cod Magazine.
For year-round Cape Codders, it's not the winter weather that presents a challenge-- our coastal winters are sunny and quite mild. Rather, it's navigating an off-season life when many of the eating and dining establishments we love close down, and that includes some of the boutique coffee shops. There's a unique comfort one finds when walking a cold and wind-swept beach with a good cup of coffee in hand.
So three cheers to The Snowy Owl on historic Rt. 6A in Brewster. Thanks for fueling us with a wonderful cup o' joe all year long, and for offering a space so comfortable and beautiful, it got the attention of the esteemed Architectural Digest.
Photo Credits: The Snowy Owl Instagram Account
As predicted, lower inventory pushed Cape Cod home prices up by 6-percent over one year ago, according to the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors. The latest data available shows the median price of a Cape Cod home is now $398,000.
The supply of homes for sale dropped 7-percent in 2017, and that reduced the absorption rate to 5.3 months from 6.9 months one year ago. The absorption rate is the length of time it would take for the existing supply of homes to sell out at the current sales rate.
Provincetown lead all towns with prices surging 33-percent. Orleans gained 13- percent, Mashpee was up 10 percent for the year.
Dennis and Chatham saw pricing corrections, down -4.5 and -2.2, respectively.
Prices were relatively flat in Harwich .5, Barnstable .6 and Yarmouth .9.
Elsewhere, prices were up 5.4 percent in Falmouth, 7.9 percent in Wellfleet, 1.6 percent in Truro, 1.4 percent in Sandwich.
Analysts cite several reasons for the lack of homes for sale. Homeowners who purchased when mortgages hit historic lows are now loathe to buy something else with a higher mortgage rate. Also, homeowners who would like to sell their Cape Cod home to purchase something different, can't find something they want.
Looking at the year ahead, some factors expected to influence the Cape Cod real estate market are natural disasters and the threat of flooding, inflation and rising interest rates, and the restrictions on income tax deductions due to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act recently passed by Congress. States without income taxes such as Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas are expected to benefit.
But hey, you don't hear singer Patty Paige crooning about "Olde Nevada", now, do you?
By early afternoon Wednesday, Maureen Niemi, tax collector for the town of Barnstable on Cape Cod observed, "we have 30-thousand tax payers in Barnstable and I think we've received a phone call or email from every one of them".
In towns across Cape Cod and the rest of the country, millions of homeowners are trying to get ahead of new tax rules signed into law last week by President Trump that take effect January 1st. The rules restrict the amount of local taxes homeowners can deduct from their income taxes. Beginning next week, state and local income, property and sales taxes in excess of $10,000 will be taxed as income. Interest on mortgages up to $750,000 will be deductible, down from the current $1,000,000 limit.
With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law so late in the calendar year, homeowners have little time to strategize. So they're turning to their town tax collector for answers. "We had 30 voicemails waiting for us when we opened the office today", said Amy Bullock, tax collector for Harwich. "Normally we have one or two". People are asking if they can pay 2018 taxes before the new year, Bullock said.
The average property tax bill in Harwich is $4,300 said Bullock, which leaves the typical homeowner with only $5,700 remaining for state and local income and sales taxes. It isn't just the higher-end property owners asking about the new rules, inquiries are pouring in about a range or property values, according to tax collectors across the Cape.
In Falmouth, a woman identifying herself as Peggy from the tax collector's office said the phone "has been ringing off the hook" all day. Most people are doing the math and asking for the annual amount of their tax bill, Peggy said.
Towns on Cape Cod operate on a fiscal calendar, which begins July 1st each year. Current tax bills approved by the town assessor is fixed for the first two fiscal quarters of 2018. Prepaying these before the new year will allow homeowners to deduct the full amount on this year's income taxes. However, any prepayment beyond fiscal 2017 will not be applicable to this year's income taxes, according to the IRS.
While tax collectors are getting inundated with questions about the new tax laws, they stress they cannot give advice on how to best reduce a total tax income tax bill. "I have had to start telling people that I am not an accountant" says Barnstable's Niemi. "We can give them the amounts due for what has already been billed, we can tell them when the next bills will be issued, but we cannot interpret the new tax code for them".
James Rubel contributed to this article.
By now, most of us know that every time someone checks a credit score, that score goes down a bit. It makes no sense to me since we're simply seeking important information. If you check your blood pressure often, should the reading go up simply as a function of checking it? But I digress...
There are other facts about credit scoring you might not know. Using information provided by loan officer Bill Carey of Santander Bank on Cape Cod, I created this quiz. See how you do. The answers are at the end.
1. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. 58-percent of the U.S. population falls within which range:
a. Below 600
c. 700 and above.
2. Every active credit card over ________ will drop the score.
3. You'll have no hit to your credit score if you pay collection within _______months.
4. True or False, paying credit card balances in full and closing the account hurts your credit score.
5. True or False, having zero balance on a credit card hurts your score.
1. c. 58-percent of the population has a score of 700 or over. 27-percent is 600-699, 15-percent is below 600.
2. b. The correct answer is 5.
3. c. You'll take no hit to your score if you pay collections within 6 months.
4. True. Closing the account will damage your credit. Makes no sense, I know.
5. True. This one also makes no sense, but, oh well.
Thanks to Bill Carey of Santander Bank. If you'd like to contact him about financing for a new home purchase, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selling your home is hard. You're letting go of the most expensive thing you've ever bought and the buying public almost never gives you the amount of money you think your house is worth. And then there's the "ick factor" of strangers coming into your house, opening closets and cabinets and seeing your most personal, intimate spaces.
On Cape Cod, listing agents take some of the sting out of the process, by being present for all showings with buyer agents and their clients. Between two licensed, professional real estate agents, your place is carefully monitored.
But there are steps you'll want to take to reduce the chances something could disappear or go wrong. Our friends at zipforms, an online real estate form vendor, created this infographic to help you prepare your home for public viewing. If you'd like more information about this or anything else related to selling your home, text or call 617-637-6711. I'm happy to assist you.
Quick, grab the camera and take some photos of your home and yard, right now, when everything is colorful, robust and beautiful.
You may need those photos if you decide to sell your house in winter or spring when the color is gone and vegetation gives up looking like anything.
Cape Cod, as the rest of the northeast and midwest, looks drastically different when plants die back to the ground at the first hard frost, usually in October. For the six months after that, potentially half the time when new inventory of homes hit the market, landscapes lack hope. Most important, potential buyers have no idea what your place looks like when the yard is at it's peak. Heck, by March, I don't remember what my own yard looks like in summer, and I planted all of it.
To help yourself with a faster sale, potentially for a little more money, take wide shots of the house and yard right now, with everything bloomed and happy. Remember to avoid taking close-ups of the plants themselves. You're not creating a plant catalogue. It's real estate.
Buyers want to know how your shrubs and flowers frame the home. They want to see where the shade of the trees provide relief from the sun. They want to check out the condition of the lawn to know if the irrigation system posted on the listing actually does its job.
Plus, a yard that's well cared for further reinforces that the entire property is loved, giving buyers greater confidence that this place is worth the asking price.