In this covid-19 year, time plays tricks with me. Spring was a bust, with everyone locked down and indoors, disinfecting the mail, and suspicious of all who passed who could possibly be spreading germs and not even know it. What was supposed to last two weeks stretches on to this day, seven months in.
Summer dawned with the start of warmer weather, leaves on the trees and people breaking free of their four walls to take walks on the beach, and in the villages and hiking trails.
One of the biggest developments for me, was the expansion of outdoor dining on Cape Cod. This region so famous for it's beauty and scenic vistas, has a dearth of restaurants with seating outdoors. Covid forced a change that was overdue anyway. It took some creative redesign of parking lots and lawns, but determined restaurateurs met the challenge, and according to an article in the Cape Cod Times, they reported that while business was down this summer, the financial hit was not as bad as was expected. We'll see if colder weather completely scuttles the progress.
You surely heard the media coverage of the white-hot real estate market this summer. Indeed, that was reality on the Cape. Long established agents never saw anything like it--- properties besieged by potential buyers with multiple offers, all above list price and a bidding war unlike anything before. The median sale price in Barnstable County is $490,000, an increase of 14 percent from one year ago, according to the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors.
I was on the losing end of some of them. I came in second on a property with 27 offers turned in on the first weekend. My client offered far above list price and still we didn't get it. Happily, we did settle on another lovely home and as of this writing, my buyers are in love with their new place in East Dennis. My buyers and sellers also had several success stories this summer and autumn. It's a tough market for buyers but there, but there are strategies I can employ to increase the odds.
But for every success story, there are at least 20 motivated and eager buyers who are still looking. That's because potential sellers aren't budging. For all the reasons buyers want to be on the Cape now, including a new category of buyer who wants to relocate to the Cape sooner than they anticipated because they can now work from home, sellers are hanging onto their homes.
The official word from the Realtor's Association is it's too soon to know if this will create permanent changes in the nature of year-round life on the Cape. The zany months of July and August here are usually balanced by quiet solitude in January and February. If previously summer-only residents continue to work from home, we'll see more shoppers in the grocery stores, patients in the waiting rooms and more traffic on the roads. Even the beaches will have more visitors in winter.
We will see if a vaccine reverses the work-from home trend. Personally, I believe a significant percentage forced to work from home in this covid year will be allowed to do so permanently, or for at least part of the time. I do think we're at the cusp of a more enduring population on Cape Cod year round.
I hope you and your family are staying safe, that you're finding ways to stay connected in this strangely distant time, and that whatever your line of work, you have enough of what you need. This won't last forever.
Happy Mother's Day everybody. I hope you've all managed to be emotionally close even if physically distant. Me, I've heard from my four grown children and my heart is filled.
And speaking of hearts, (smooth transition, eh?) it was 50 years ago that Bobby Orr of the Bruins scored one of the most memorable points in Boston sports history when he slid the puck into the net to cap a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final. In overtime, no less. For a 13 year old teenager growing up in Worcester, my friends and I fell completely in love.
Bobby Orr, with his boyish good looks-- kind of a cross between Brian Caan and Robert Redfield, a bashful charm, and super-human abilities, offered something for everybody. Men wanted to be like him, older women wanted to mother him and young women and girls wanted to marry him.
Fast forward a few decades and the Worcester teenager moved to Cape Cod to sell residential real estate. As a realtor I got an invitation in the mail inviting real estate agents to a "meet and greet" at the Ridge Club golf community in Sandwich. To help promote sales at the club, we had the opportunity to meet one of the owners--- Bobby Orr.
Would I attend? Do you even need to ask? Apps, wine and...Bobby Orr. Oh my word, what could be better? Bobby was a complete gentleman--supremely gracious and patient with the long line of realtors waiting to get a photo and a few words with him. I sat down next to the Bruins great for my one minute while a fellow realtor grabbed a photo with my cellphone. I never thought I could put meeting Bobby Orr on my bucket list, but here he was anyway. Cross that one off the list. An unexpected bonus for my life.
Until I watched the news tonight, I hadn't realized it was 50 years ago that Orr scored that goal, made iconic by a photographer who captured the precise second that Orr flew horizontally above the ice in celebration, in the now famous "Flying Bobby" shot. 50 years.
So Happy Mother's Day once again. And thank you Bobby Orr, for reminding us five decades on that you stole the Stanley Cup hopes of the St. Louis Blues, and you stole the heart of a starry-eyed teenager in Worcester.
Hello Friends, It's been awhile. I'm holed up at home along with 297 million Americans instructed to do the same. By tomorrow, more states will come online with stay-at-home advisories or orders. Every number associated with the COVID-19 pandemic gets bigger. Things get more restricted, more risky, more deadly by the hour. The day when this is expected to turn a corner gets pushed out farther and farther.
Just three weeks ago, officials told us to avoid gatherings of more than 250 people--it wasn't wise to pack restaurants, bars or spring break beaches. Today, those venues all closed, we wonder if a single weekly trip out of the house for groceries will be the one that gets us. It's giving us the opportunity to become reacquainted with the bottom of our freezers for the first time in I-will-never-admit-to-you-how-long a time. That long. But the impact of the coronavirus on all of our lives has been swift.
We have plenty of time to think. As a former television journalist, I realize I still have an insatiable appetite to know what's going on. I'm fascinated by this pandemic both as a citizen trying to keep herself and her loved ones healthy, and also as a newsperson completely riveted by the depth and coverage of this as a news topic. The cable stations and online newspapers are up all day while I manage my residential real estate business virtually. Only after the supper dishes are done do I reach my saturation point and turn to a mindless British TV murder mystery or some makeup tutorial on youtube. Now that is mindless. And somehow, so necessary.
Some of my friends find all the coverage stressful, but I find it oddly comforting to know what the experts have to say minute by minute. I've been reading about this mysterious form of pneumonia in the New York Times since early December. There were first person accounts and videos of how deadly this was, how hospitals in China were so overwhelmed they were building a new one from the ground up in just two weeks. There were reports the virus was plunging China into recession and that the virus would spread around the world. It was all there for the knowing and for taking action. And only three weeks ago did our government choose to listen and do something about it. So, along with fear, I feel fury. Our inaction, our inexcusable lack of preparation, our failure to produce and stockpile basic medical supplies, is killing people.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To match the fear and fury I clutch to signs of hope and humor. The nightly 7 pm demonstrations in apartment windows and on the streets of New York as grateful citizens applaud the health workers at shift change choke me up. Every time. It never gets old.
The efforts of ordinary people mobilizing to do what they can to make things better for the first responders, and the millions of workers we might have taken for granted who now risk exposure every day to supply us with groceries, staff the pharmacies, process our packages and deliver our mail. I don't venture out much lately, but whenever I do, I thank each and every worker I encounter for getting to the job each day in order to help us.
And the wine memes flying around on social media. Priceless. Thank you. Thank you for every one of them you produce and share.
The business of real estate continues, albeit with some changes. Some of them I honestly hope will continue after the crisis is over. I'll write more about that very soon.
May you all stay healthy and safe. Whether you're fighting to save lives in the hospitals, fighting crime or fighting fires, or you're just staying at home to not get infected and spread the virus to others, I appreciate you.
Every home tells a story, and on Cape Cod the stories are often, shall we say, unique?
At first glance, the residence at 182 Gorham Rd. in Harwich Port appears to be like many others, in the architectural style that shares its name with the region-- Cape Cod. But this one began it's life in Randolph, Mass., 75 miles away, and it came to the Cape, piece by piece, over several trips, in the bed of a pickup truck.
After World War II, as Boston's population and main railroad line expanded, the little house in Randolph stood in the way of development. Town officials put out the word that for one-dollar, the house was for the taking. The one stipulation was it would have to be moved off-site.
Contractor George Ellis of Cape Cod saw an opportunity. Just back from fighting the war, Ellis dismantled the house, piece by piece and over a span of two years, he trucked it one load at a time, to Gorham Rd. in Harwich Port.
Painstakingly reconstructed, the charming little Cape was whole again in 1948. But Ellis and his wife wanted a larger kitchen, so a spacious addition was constructed that same year. "We were peeling some wallpaper off one of the bedrooms and saw the year 1948 written in pencil on the plaster wall", said Charlie Helliwell, the current longtime owner. "That's how we know when the house was finished".
The age of the original Randolph home is not known. With the steep and narrow staircase to the second floor, a design element long banned in home construction, it's likely the home is older than 100 years-- classifying it in real estate terms as an antique. But, "I guess you can't really call this one an antique since it's no longer in its original form", says Helliwell. In fact, the splatter-dash floors, characterized by wide pine planks painted and then "splattered" with other colors to form decorative dots, were new in 1948, even though that paint treatment was commonly done in homes many decades before.
Eventually the home was passed down to George's son Babe Ellis. Babe and his wife lived there for decades more.
Charlie and Karen Helliwell have owned the home since 1980. As the decades wore on, the house grew again, with an impressive addition housing the master en suite, two-car garage and deck, which overlooks nearly two acres of private grounds in a natural setting. The Ellis' are never far from 182 Gorham Rd., -- it was Babe's son Harry who constructed the addition for the Helliwells.
"It has such an interesting history", Charlie says of his home which is currently on the market for sale. "We've enjoyed every minute of living here, and we know the new owners will too."
182 Gorham Rd. is offered by Kinlin Grover Real Estate at $1,250,000. Contact myself, or Jane Englert at 781-789-3300 for a private showing.
With fear of coronavirus forcing "social distancing" around the country, real estate brokerages are creating policies to protect everyone involved in buying and selling a home.
The National Association of Realtors recommends the following protocol for Open Houses around the country:
We are in the early stages of this public health emergency, and there is a ton of misinformation flying around. Suffice it to say, we should be more concerned with germs than ever before. Shaking hands when greeting one another is no longer recommended, and we are supposed to stay outside of a 3-foot range of those near us.
I'll continue to monitor how the coronavirus is affecting the real estate industry and write articles when appropriate. For now, I hope everyone stays healthy.
Ever since Zillow.com launched in 2004, real estate in America has never been the same. Information about every home in the country is available from this one website on the internet.
In my opinion, 90 percent of this has been a good thing. Consumers no longer rely on a real estate agent to show them what listings are available for sale-- Zillow shows them right from their own computer, allowing people to eliminate homes in advance and leaving the best for their tours. But there is one controversial aspect about Zillow that hasn't changed in 16 years-- the zestimate.
The "zestimate" is zillow's estimate of value. Using a proprietary formula from an aggregation of public records and other factors, Zillow assigns a dollar value to every home.
In cities where housing stock is similar in style and age, like Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas NV, the zestimate is pretty accurate. But on Cape Cod, where homes have been added to the landscape sporadically for hundreds of years, the Zestimate struggles. I once listed a rare pond front home with 250 feet of exclusive waterfront, and by comparing that home to the sold price of others in the area that had no waterfront, the zestimate for the property was $200,000 too low. With every showing, I had to explain to buyers why the zestimate was so far off. It was a challenge.
You see, buyers trust Zillow. They know it's a third-party site, at arms length from both sellers and real estate agents who make money off the sale of a property. Zillow earns nothing for the these sales-- except it has entered the ibuyer trend, a subject of a future blog. Mostly, Zillow makes money by selling advertising space to real estate agents.
Which brings me to the reason I'm writing about the zestimate today. It seems that one of the co-founders of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, is selling his L.A. home, for $24 million dollars. And the zestimate on his property? $16.1 million-- a difference of $8 million dollars. Oops.
Interestingly, the zestimate bumped up significantly today to $21,844,000 as word of the discrepancy went viral. Hmmm.
Zillow acknowledges the difficulty in assigning a value to an ultra-luxury property like Rascoff's. There isn't another one like it.
We know what that's like on the Cape. We can have a 17th century home sitting next door to a manse constructed just last year. How does an algorithm compare the two? It can't. That's the point.
So when you check out zestimates on Zillow, keep this in mind. Even the co-founder of Zillow knows what it's like when the popular website misses the mark by a mile. Take that zestimate with a grain of Cape Cod beach salt.
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.