Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Good Call

I received an email from one of my Seller client couples. They have decided to renew their dream of retiring to their Wellfleet home, prompted by seven days without power at their New Hampshire home. Good answer!

Snow - Eastham Gets It's Share

While the northeast has been pummeled for over a week by bad weather, including over a foot in some places, that has taken out power lines and produced some shoreline erosion on the South Shore (between Boston and Plymouth), the Outer Cape has been, relatively, only lightly 'touched'. That said, we received about 6-10 inches of the white stuff Friday evening. The good news is that the warmer weather, and some light rain, today has cleared the roads and begun the melting process. The photo was taken yesterday morning at my home in Eastham.

Friday, December 19, 2008

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage at 37-Year Low

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tumbled to a national average 5.17% this week, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began its weekly rate survey in 1971. Go to for the whole story. It won't be long until the full effect is felt on the Outer Cape. 2009 is going to be a good year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mad About 4.5% Mortgages

One of the problems with rumors of cheap mortgages is a stall in the market while folks wait for the lower rates.... read below...

The L.A. Times, San Jose Mercury News and Seeking Alpha are reporting Treasury Department rumors of a forthcoming 4.5% fixed-rate 30-year mortgage. At this point we don't know if the rumor is an intentional Treasury Department leak or is one random riff from the loose lips of a sloppy bureaucrat at the happy hour bar. Go to the Blog to read the rest of the story...

Cramer: Bernanke Finally 'Gets It"

Jim Cramer (the love-him or hate-him financial guru) has predicted for quite some time that the housing financial meltdown will formally 'bottom' next summer. He sees yesterday's action by the Fed as a major step in making his prediction come true. With the Fed rate drop of 3/4 of a point, Cramers sees today's low mortgage rates potentially going into the 3's next year. He further says that NOW is the time to buy. Read his article HERE.

January 2009 Newsletter - Year-End 2008 Preview

My January 2009 newsletter is available now! This issue features the sales report through November and my preview of next month's year-end report. This year's sales (so far) are VERY interesting! Also in this newsletter is an article on choosing a second home and an interesting mortgage comparison, using the new lower rates. To request your copy of the January 2009 newsletter, Click HERE...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10 Things to Know About Buying a Second Home

HGTV's published a new article about buying a second home. Nationally, one out of three homes sold in 2007 was a vacation home or investment property, showing that demand for second homes remains healthy despite a slow housing market. With homebuyers enjoying an advantage in many markets (including Eastham and the Outer Cape), now may be the time to buy that second home. It's an important read. Go to Buying a Second Home at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Check Your Credit History Year-Round, For Free

Statistics show that 80% of credit histories have at least one error. Most of them are minor and inconsequential but some can have an adverse effect on your credit score, often costing your thousands on mortgages and car loans. I believe credit bureaus were so lackadaisical about accuracy because it forced consumers to buy their credit reporting services. You wouldn't know there's an error unless you paid Equifax for a copy of your report. Fortunately, federal law now makes it possible for us to police our own records and force bureaus to correct them, all on their dime. Here's how:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lets you request a free copy of your credit report from each bureau every twelve months at It's been mentioned numerous times before (along with all the scam sites looking to profit off it) but do you regularly check your credit history for errors?

It's no wonder consumers find an estimated 13 million inaccuracies on their credit reports each year.

From the Comsumerist at

New Low Mortgage Rates - Wow!

I checked again today - today's 30 year/no points rate is 5.00%. With the current Buyers' market on Cape Cod (and most other places, I believe) these rates make real estate a difficult investment to ignore. These are real rates - not future maybes.

At 5.00%, use $5.38 per $1000 to calculate your monthly mortgage expense. Or, go to my website's Buyers Page and use the mortgage calculator.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Bentley In The Mall

My wife, Beverly, and I were in a high end mall (in New Jersey) this morning, doing some Christmas shopping for my son-in-law. The problem with this mall is that it's REALLY high-end. How did I know? There was a Bentley convertible in the mall with velvet ropes around it. Not your average extravagance. Not mine, either.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mortgages at 4.5% ? - Maybe!

Will it be possible to get a mortgage for your Eastham home at rates as low as 4.5% ? Maybe!

The Treasury Department is contemplating a proposal that would cut mortgage rates for new loans for homes, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plan would employ Fannie Mae & Fannie Mae to offer mortgages with rates as low as 4.5%, roughly 1 percentage point lower than current rates. The measure is under consideration as part of the Treasury Department's continued effort to limit foreclosures, which has been at the core of the financial crisis. The plan would seek to revitalize the financial market without bailing out homeowners and lenders. Go to for the whole story.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Customer Letter - A Buyer

Dear Bob,

I want to thank you for all that you did to help us through the process of the purchase, right from the beginning to end. We are especially grateful for all the extra tips & advice along the way. We were impressed that you were always available if we had questions or concerns, even while on vacation in Alaska!

I hope you are enjoying the autumn weather & foliage. We look forward to getting to know the Cape better in all four seasons.

All the best, E. & M. (of Massachusetts)

A Christmas Card For Our Heros

When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get.

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mortgage Rates - Food for Thought

I looked this morning and the mortgage rates are at 5.25% for 30 yrs/no points. Look at what that means to the ‘affordability’ of an Eastham home.

For the same monthly payment (and a slightly increased down payment) you can buy 8% more house at 5.25% than at a 6% mortgage. This example is scalable, so go to my website’s Buyers Page and use your numbers in the mortgage calculator. Please note that the maximum mortgage currently offered at the 5.25% rate is $417K.

Food for thought.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dennis Showings

Yesterday I showed a few homes in Dennis and Dennisport to a client and his teenage kids. I enjoy showings that include teenage kids since they seem to love the hunt. The homes were all in the $200's. They ranged from a pristine 3 bedroom cottage to a large home that should have been represented as a tear down on an acre-plus pondfront lot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday Mortgage Sale?

Call it a Black Friday sale or just the result of the economic meltdown, but mortgage rates have dropped to VERY attractive levels. I checked today and a local bank is offering a 30 yr, no points, mortgage rate of 5.5%. With the Outer Cape's inventories at good levels and low mortgage rates, now is the time to BUY!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

It's kinda fun to know that a tradition as American as Thanksgiving had it's beginnings at the place I call home. Weather permitting, I'm sure that I'll visit Eastham's First Encounter Beach, where the Pilgrims first 'encountered' the Native Americans, sometime during Thanksgiving weekend. This year we expect to have a house-full for a traditional turkey dinner (and pumpkin pie!).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are You A Foodie? - Check Out This Cape Cod Food Blog

One of my clients, who has since moved to her new Eastham home, sent me a link to a great Blog that focuses on Cape Cod food. The author, Elspeth Pierson, who calls herself an avid "locavore", lives in Wellfleet and has a weekly radio show on WCAI-FM radio. I'm sure you will appreciate her quest for the best ingrediants and recipes. Check out her "Diary of a Locavore" blog. Thank you A.G.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another Rubber Duckie Story - This One Dead Serious

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last week about the use of Rubber Duckies in the study of the ice melt in Greenland. They were struggling for a cheap way to study how fast the ice cap on Greenland was melting. So they came up with the idea of planting rubber duckies, each with identifiers and email addresses attached and letting the under ice rivers take them to the open water where they will, ultimately, be found. They may even wash up on a remote beach somewhere. Read about this science project in the Wall Street Journal. And I was whining about Eastham's rubber duckie race. Hmmm.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Eastham's Rubber Duck Race - An Endurance Test

This morning's surprise was an inch of 'ocean affect' snow and about 50 mph winds. These, together, made for very inhospitable conditions for this morning's rubber duck race on Bee's River at the end of First Encounter Beach. When I arrived there were about 50 hardy souls waiting for the festivities to begin. I quickly paid the $1 I owed for my duck (duck #18, if you want to cheer me on). The winds brought the wind-chill to well under 0 degrees.

Well, the ducks were dumped into the river and quickly (mercifully) made a break for the open river, making for a short race. The 10 winning ducks were fished from the water by a few men in waders, their owners were later awarded a turkey or a pie. Not me, unfortunately. The losing ducks were also fished out (except for 3 that made a dash for the open Bay) to be given to kids and adults in the crowd. The net - a lot of fun, but it would be more fun if it the wind chill was 30 to 40 degrees higher.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Closing Today - Oceanside Building Lot

I had a closing today on an oceanside half acre building lot, near Minister's Pond in Eastham. It occurred to me that there were only 4 lots sold this year in Eastham, and I sold 3 of them. Maureen, my associate, was the listing agent for the other lot. So, RE/MAX Classic sold 100% of the lots. Not bad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bob's December Newsletter - My October Sales Update

My December newsletter is available now! This issue features the sales report through October and my commentary about where the market will go for the remainder of this year. This year's sales (so far) are VERY interesting! Also in this newsletter are a few new listings, the Eastham rubber duck race, and a few other Outer Cape articles to whet your appetite. To request your copy of the December newsletter, Click HERE...

Monday, November 17, 2008

2008 Eastham Turnip Festival

After the duck race, head on over to the Elks Club (on McKoy Rd) this Saturday (Nov 22nd) for the annual Eastham Turnip Festival. There will be judged dishes (turnips, of course) and other contests. Cook a dish, bring your best photos of Eastham, and just have fun. Bring a few bucks for tee-shirts, arts & crafts, and, of course, for Eastham turnips. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Eastham Library. The festivities start at 1 PM.

My mother wasn't fond of turnips, so I've had them VERY infrequently. I mentioned this to a friend who said she'd provide a recipe that would change my mind. I'll pass it on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Rubber Duckie You're The One" - Eastham Rubber Duck Race

The Eastham Recreation & Beach Department is having a rubber duck race this next Saturday (November 22nd) at the end of First Encounter Beach, on Bee's River. Prizes are turkeys and Thanksgiving pies. It's a buck a duck and they start swimming at 9AM. This should be a lot of fun.

If you'd like to buy a duck (for a buck), call the Rec Department at 508-240-5974 on Tuesday after 9AM. When all the ducks are gone, they're gone. This is a rain or shine event. I'll see you there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Reason to Like Alaska

Alaska has unbelievably beautiful mountains and coastal areas. It has oil reserves beyond what would be necessary to ensure energy independence. And ...

Another reason to like Alaska is what'll happen if the on-going count of votes for the Senate seat turns out to be a dead tie. In Alaska ties are resolved by a coin toss.

Price Reduction at Wellfleet Cottage

The expanded cottage at Brownies has had a super price reduction - to $199,000. Check it out at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We Make A Life ......

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. ..... Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Vacations - A Few Notable Quotes

"On vacations: We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings." -Erma Bombeck

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in." -Robert Orben

"A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia" -Anonymous

Check out my website at

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tax Advantages of Owning a Second Home

There is always confusion as to how 'useful' the tax advantages are of owning a second and/or vacation home. I found the following article helpful. Go HERE to read more. The key word may be "active'. If you actively manage the property you can deduct up to $25K per year of losses on your second home against earned income. The IRS guide for Vacation homes is IRS Publication 527. Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yesterday - Blue Rock Golf Course in Yarmouth.

After enduring the long lines at the polls yesterday (9 minutes, unbearable) a friend and I took the time to enjoy the warmer, sunshine-y, day with a round of golf. We played a par-3 course in Yarmouth called Blue Rock. A beautiful day with the leaves in bright colors, a gentle breeze and almost no one else on the course. My score wasn't the best - my pitches and chips did me in.

This course is quite beautiful and fun to play. There are water hazards on 4 holes (3, 9, 10, & 18) and relatively level greens. The price was pretty good too, only $25. Check them out on the web at

Friday, October 31, 2008

Get Out and Vote!

This year's national election has taken on increased importance as the nation, and the world, deals with the financial crisis that has seemingly spread from the so-called 'housing crisis' to just about every aspect of our lives. Opinions are strong, and varied, as to what direction(s) the nation must go. Both parties are pushing for change. Please make it your responsibility to get knowledgeable on the issues and take the time to vote.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pristine Eastham Oceanside Ranch

New Listing - This 2 bedroom ranch home has had meticulous care and is a pleasure to show. The location is at the end of a cul-de-sac and borders the National Seashore, providing exceptional privacy and tranquility. The house has a new roof, an irrigation system, huge closets, updated appliances, wood-burning fireplace, and a new 40 foot Trex deck out the back. The walk-out basement is partially finished, including a half bath and a separate laundry room. This home has been a great rental property and is being sold turn-key, with furnishings included (with a few exceptions). Priced to sell at $412K. Go to for more photos and a virtual tour.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Customer Letter - A Buyer


We want to thank you for all you did to help us find our perfect Cape Cod home. We began the process almost a year ago, and the amount of properties available made this an almost overwhelming experience. Your patience and understanding enabled us to find exactly what we needed, and your assistance through the closing process and beyond made us comfortable every step along the way.

We look forward to many years of joy with family and friends at this wonderful home.

Warmest regards,
M. & K. C. (of Connecticut)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Quote For Our Times

"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Delightful Brewster Condo

New Listing - A condo with a quiet residential ambiance. Relax by your beautiful fireplace in the winter or sit outside overlooking a wooded area on your private patio in the summer. Generously proportioned Master bedroom, first floor laundry, private storage shed, kitchen open to the dining area. Unit is set at the rear of the complex and has a private yard. Close proximity to schools, bike trail, beaches. Never rented, this immaculate unit is well-maintained. Newer roof, septic, and hot water tank. New washer/dryer & dishwasher. Move in and enjoy yourself!

Go to my website for more photos & information. A Virtual Tour is also available as is a Google map of this property.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eastham Assessor's Department - 2009 Update

I stopped by the town assessor's department and spoke to Gail Fitzback, the Deputy Assessor. She gave me a few statistics you might find interesting. The 2009 assessments are based on the property values on January 1, 2008.
  • The number of single family residences in Eastham for 2009 is 5,053, up from 5,044 for 2008 (up 0.2%)
  • The 2009 median home assessed value is $416,200, down from $433,900 (down 4%)
  • Tax rate is $5.31 per thousand, up from $5.08 (up 4.5%)
  • Total assessed value of Eastham's single family homes is approximately $2.5B (yes-Billion!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Makes A Great Real Estate Agent?

Frontdoor Unlocked by HGTV posted an article articulating what makes a great real estate agent. Measure me against this standard. The article is HERE.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Listing - "Brand New" Wellfleet Condo

This 584 sq foot cottage has been completely rebuilt, inside and out, to be a fabulous summer get-away. This cottage belongs to the Brownie's Cabins colony. There is a completely new bathroom with custom tiling, new kitchen cabinets, updated appliances including a new dishwasher, and a vaulted ceiling with 2 ceiling fans. There are new windows, new siding, new roof, new footings - all new! Come take a look. Priced below recent appraisal. Priced at $239,000. Enjoy it next summer! Go to my website for more photos & information. A Virtual Tour is also available as is a Google map of this property.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chatham Seaside Links - Hmmmm!

I promised I'd report after I had a chance to play the 9 hole golf course that abuts the Chatham Bars Inn. I played it last week with my wife and a friend.

Well, I found it difficult. Several of the holes, including the 1st, were laid out such that you couldn't see the pin from the tee box due to a hill crest in the fairway. My game is inconsistent (I'm overstating my skill level here) without the 'help'. The other 'help' we had was the wind, which seemed to blow in my face on every hole (is that possible?). All that said, it was a good time, a great day, and the price was right, $19 (without cart).

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Now Advertise on

I now advertise on . I have recently signed up as a "Spotlight Realtor" on This means my clients' listings will be featured 'front & center' on all home searches. Trulia is fast becoming a premier website for folks seeking real estate. This new exposure should provide more traffic for my website, more showings for my listings, and more sales.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Customer Letter - A Buyer


N. and I would like to thank you for your perseverance in our five month quest to obtain this property. I know that the profit for you had to be at a minimum and your efforts to put this deal together were above and beyond. Again, thank you and hope we can stay in touch as neighbors.

T. B. (of Connecticut)

Wellfleet OysterFest - October 18th & 19th

This year will be the 7th annual Wellfleet OysterFest. The weekend (and the village) will be filled with fun things for the whole family to do and see. There is a 5K run, a tennis tournament, arts & crafts, an old fashioned spelling bee (both adults and kids), and the all-important oyster shucking contest. Go to for more information, a schedule of events and for instructions on how to shuck an oyster.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Slump? What Slump??

With all the talk about the nationwide housing slump, I get a lot of questions about how it has affected real estate in Eastham. So I compared the previous 12 months (9/1/2007 to 8/31/2008) to the full-year 2004, using data extracted from the Cape Cod & Islands MLS. 2004 was the year prior to the beginning of the current slowdown. I report every month on sales volumes and both average and median sales prices.

The data shows....

  • Sales volume in down 32% (2004 - 141, 2007/2008 - 96)
  • Average sales prices are up 6.8% ($496K vs 530K)
  • Median sales prices are up 0.2% ($449K vs $450K)

My conclusion is that the only slump is in sales volume - no surprise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chatham Seaside Links

I 'discovered' a 'new' 9-hole golf course! This course is adjacent to the Chatham Bars Inn, just off of Shore Rd in Chatham. What is so amazing is that it's a public course with VERY reaonable greens fees - how about $19! In truth, the course has existed for many years (since 1895) and I'm not the first to discover it, but I plan to give it a play before it gets too cold. I'll let you know when I do. Check it out on

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

REX Agreements - A New Way to Tap Your Home's Equity

Just when you thought that the home lending business couldn't get any more complicated, there is a new way to tap into your home's built up equity. This new 'instrument' is called a Rex Agreement. Simply (ugh!), a Rex Agreement allows you to borrow up to 15% of your homes equity, to be paid back, interest free, when you sell your house, up to 50 years later. The 'cost' of this loan is up to 50% of the home's equity growth since the loan was taken out, however many years ago. If your home decreases in value, the loss is shared, 50/50, between the loaner and the loanee. The minimum loan duration is 3 years. Rex Agreements are legal in Massachusetts, but not in all states. Go Here to read more about these loans.

I see this loan as being, potentially, a very expensive way to borrow money. Also, since these loans will be bundled and marketed, they will (in my opinion) contribute to the uncertainty of the housing and lending industries.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Windmill Weekend - Sand Sculpture Photos

Although the weather was if-fy for Windmill Weekend, a number of folks still managed to build impressive sand sculptures on First Encounter Beach. A client of mine, Kathy S., took some photos that you might enjoy. Go here for her slideshow.

Monday, September 08, 2008

We Dodged A Bullet With Hanna

The weekend turned out to be 'not so bad', even though the remnants of Hurricane Hanna blew through here this past weekend. Saturday was just a day of scattered showers. Saturday evening had light rain but winds in the 25 to 40 mph range, and Sunday was spectacular - bright sunshine. Eastham's Windmill Weekend wasn't a washout as feared. To make the situation even better - Hurricane Ike looks like its heading west, into the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bald Eagles Are On The Outer Cape

Friends of mine were kayaking in Wellfleet when they spotted a bald eagle. They were on the Herring River, in Wellfleet, inland from the Chequessett Neck Rd bridge (see map) on the way to Great Island. Bald eagles are no longer an endangered species, but they are protected. I took the photo (right) during a recent trip to Alaska where bald eagles are a common sight.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Listen to Bob on NPR Radio

I was interviewed for a radio program on NPR radio (is that redundant?), broadcast on August 29th. Go to to read the transcript and listen to the radio show ... Go HERE. The radio show discussed the current Outer Cape marketplace and how the nation-wide real estate down-turn has affected the sale of (mostly 2nd) homes on Cape Cod.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Do A 1031 Exchange?

1031 Exchanges provide taxpayers with a valuable opportunity to defer taxes that would otherwise be payable upon the sale of real estate or personal property held for productive use in their business or for investment. 1031 Exchange transactions are structured under the 1991 "Safe Harbor" guidelines provided by Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 and Revenue Procedure 2000-37.

A successful 1031 Exchange allows investors to recycle 100% of their capital from the sale of qualifying real estate and personal property into the purchase of "Like-Kind" Replacement Property, instead of paying tax on their capital gain or depreciation recapture at the time they sell their Relinquished Property.

Information provided by TVPX, Inc.

Eastham Windmill Weekend - September 5th - 7th

The biggest and best weekend in Eastham is the weekend after Labor Day, known here as Windmill Weekend. The town puts on a party with lots of events and it's always fun for the whole family. The weekend includes an art show, a craft show, a car show, sand 'art' at First Encounter Beach (my favorite), concerts, clam chowder contest, tricycle race (for the kids), a parade, 5 mile and 2 mile runs, and much more. Go to the Windmill Weekend website for lots more information. This year's theme is "Those Fabulous '50's". Come - join the fun!

Edward Hopper's Cape Cod

The New York Times ran an article in its "Cultured Traveler" series highlighting the iconic artist's many years on the Outer Cape, which included an interactive "Then & Now" comparison between Hopper's paintings and recent photos. Hopper spent 40 summers on the Cape and painted many local scenes, including a few in Eastham. The Times article is HERE. Be sure to click on the "Then & Now" multimedia link in the left column. The picture here is Hopper's "House With Big Pine", painted in 1935 in Eastham. If you know the street address of this house, please email me at