Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wellfleet Harbor Web Cam

Wellfleet harbor webcamI found a new webcam (new to me, anyway) that overlooks Wellfleet harbor. This camera apparently pans and takes a panaramic view of the whole harbor area. Well worth a look-see. Take a look at

PS. If you look at night, it'll be dark.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Customer Letter - A Buyer

Wellfleet, Cape CodBob Sheldon helped us find our dream vacation home on the cape through what I can only describe as patience and perseverance. Bob was sensitive to our price range, showed us a full range of properties in the area we were interested in but most importantly counseled patience in sticking with the place we eventually bought. Since we bought a forclosed house, more went wrong than right in the process with the seller, but Bob stuck with us in making the deal happen. Because of his counsel and patience we got the house we were after.

It didn't stop there however. The house we ended up buying needed a tremendous amount of work. Bob gave us great recommendations for contractors and put us in touch with quality people of all variety who service houses on the cape. He stuck with us and helped it all come together. If you're looking for someone to find you a home on the cape, call Bob. :)

J. & B. S. (of Massachusetts)

Hot Property - The White House

White HouseAlthough its not for sale, the White House would make a pretty expensive home. Given its size and location (and 35 bathrooms), the White House is valued at $308 million. And, it's not even on the water! Read the whole story on BusinessWeek's Hot Property website. What would the Title V septic system look like if it was in Eastham? Hmmm.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Existing Home Sales - Up Significantly!!

In perhaps the best housing report of the great housing slump, existing home sales jumped 6.5 percent in December to a 4.740 million unit annual rate -- a gain that indicates lower mortgage rates are now boosting home sales. The jump cut nicely into supply on the market, now at 3.676 million homes and down nearly 12 percent from November and making for 9.3 months of supply at the current sales rate, down steeply from November's 11.2 months. Read the whole story on Bloomberg ... Here. Good news! Of note, the inventory in Eastham has dipped to under a year's worth of sales.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tips For Buying & Selling In 2009

It's no secret that 2009 is going to be a tough year for real estate, even out here on Outer Cape Cod. But, we've seen signs of improvement (e.g. lower inventory, great mortgage rates). That said, HGTV's recently published an article providing tips for buying and selling in 2009. It's not rocket science, but it serves as a good reminder of the extra steps (and opportunities?) that these difficult times provide.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

National Seashore Winter Film Festival (updated)

The Cape Cod National Seashore is hosting its annual winter film festival at the Salt Pond Visitors Center on Route 6 in Eastham. The films are all on Sundays at 1 PM and are free. You'll notice a theme...
  • January 25 - "A Night to Remember"
  • February 1 - "Treasure Island"
  • February 8 - "Cast Away"
  • February 15 - "Master and Commander"
  • February 22 - "The Perfect Storm"

All the movies have a maritime theme (duh!) and are free.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First Wireless Maritime Distress Call - January 23, 1909

RMS RepublicJan 23, 2009 is the 100th anniversary commemoration of the first wireless distress call at sea. The event will be celebrated globally by amateur radio operators, maritime historians, many are former military sparkies, and commercial maritime radio operators.

On a cold January night in 1909, in a deep fog, two ships collided off Nantucket. The Republic, was a luxury liner, of the White Star Line (remember the Titanic?) headed out from New York City for a leisurely cruise around the Mediterranean. The Florida, was filled with impoverished people fleeing the consequences of an earthquake in Messina, Italy, in the hope of a better life in America.

What happened next was the historical first wireless distress call, and the heroic story of the wireless operator named Jack Binns. The distress call was received by the Wellfleet Marconi Station. Only 7 people died from this wreck that should have taught us that more could to be done to save lives after collisions at sea. Read the story of Jack Binns and see the plans to celebrate this important 100th anniversery. Check out these websites...

The Orleans Cardinals Are Now The Orleans Firebirds

Orleans FirebirdsIn a move necessitated by a contract with Major League Baseball, the Orleans Cardinals have changed their name to the Orleans Firebirds. Read the whole convoluted story and learn a bit of history on the College Baseball blog. Fun reading! The Firebirds' first home game will be June 13th.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Interesting Comparisons - The Current Financial Mess

Comparisons are always interesting. Here are a few that may provide an interesting perspective on the current financial mess.
  • “Bank Closures at an All Time High in 2008”. Wrong - In 1989 there were 1,004 bank closures. In 2008 there were 30 bank closures. On average there are 94 bank closures per year
  • “Foreclosure Rates Show No Sign of Slowing”. Wrong - During the Great Depression Foreclosure Rates were 50%. Nationally today our Foreclosure Rates are 3%
  • Unemployment Sky-High. Wrong - During the Great Depression Unemployment ran at 25%. Nationally today our Unemployment is 7.2%

These figures were shared in a recent speech by the Lt Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert. This doesn't mean we have nothing to worry about, but the current hole isn't as deep as we've seen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stow-Away Porcupine Bites Dust

Eastham PorcupineThis past week a very rare sighting was made of a porcupine in Eastham, near the bike path, on Locust Road. I say 'sighting' but the animal was actually roadkill. Since porcupines are nocturnal, they 'travel' at night and probably was nailed while crossing the road. Since porcupines aren't known to be on the Cape, how did it get all the way to the Outer Cape? The answer will never be known, but one theory is that it may have been 'bundled' into a load of Christmas trees and delivered here. An involuntary stow-away! This story appeared in Friday's Cape Codder - take a look.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My February Newsletter Is Now Available - Year End Report

Bob's Eastham NewsletterMy February 2009 newsletter is available now! This issue features the year-end 2008 sales report. Wow! What a story to tell! Also in this newsletter are 2 featured listings, one oceanfront in Wellfleet and the other an expanded antique in Eastham. To request your copy of the February 2009 newsletter, Click HERE...

2008 Year-End Report - Additional Graphs

Below are 2 graphs that didn't fit the year-end report from my February newsletter. If you'd like to subscribe to the newsletter - click Here.

The first graph shows the total value (in $M) of the single family homes sold in Eastham. It shows, fairly dramatically, when the slowdown began. The good news for Eastham is that, although volume decreased about 30%, the home prices did not.

Eastham Total Sales By Year

The next graph shows current active single family homes in the context of the last 2 years. You'll see that inventory is decreasing. Time will tell us whether this is real or just a slow month in a normally slow season. It could be the beginning of a more balanced marketplace, caused in part, by renewed buying encouraged by the record low mortgage interest rates.

Eastham Active Listings

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Should You Refinance? Maybe Not!

With the rates down at 5% for a 30 year fixed mortgage (or even 4.65% for a 15 year fixed), should you jump to refinance? Maybe not! There are quite a few factors that need to be considered before you decide whether to take the refinance step. As an example - will the closing costs of your new mortgage be more than the savings you'll enjoy with reduced payments? If your home's value has declined, do you need to put up more cash to avoid PMI? If you are thinking of making the call to your mortgage person, you need to read this article from the Fox Business Channel's website.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Buyer Traffic Seems To Be Picking Up!

Buyer traffic seems to be picking up. I managed to close on a deal for a nice 2 bedroom ranch near the Eastham windmill. The real closing will be sometime in March, in plenty of time for the new Buyers, my clients, to get it ready for the summer season. Now for the 'hard work', with home inspections, water tests, septic plan reviews, legal document approvals, etc.

Today's dusting of snow reminds me that it's still winter, but spring is just around the corner. Yeah!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Oil Tanks Need To Be Double-Walled

One of the prerequisites of a house changing hands in Eastham (at a closing), is that existing fuel oil tanks must either be double-walled or must be demonstrably less than 10 years old. Eastham (and other Outer Cape towns) has instituted this new 'rule' to prevent to release of fuel oil into the fragile aqua-system of the Outer Cape.
  • If a home seller has a 'new' single-walled tank, he needs to get a variance from the fire department. The fire department requires the tank to be stamped with the date of manufacture or that the home seller provide the invoice showing when the tank was installed prior to issuing the variance.

  • Lacking a variance, the home seller must replace the existing oil tank with a new double walled tank and have the old tank removed. This is roughly a $2,000 expense.
    Of course, homes without an oil tank don't face this issue.

An alternative to installing a new oil tank is conversion to natural gas heating. Many streets in Eastham have buried gas lines, making this conversion a viable option. Although conversion can be costly, the expense can be reduced by taking advantage of promotions offered by the gas company as their way of locking you in as a new customer. Also, sometimes the Seller will grant the Buyer a credit, at closing, since they will not have to pay for the take conversion.

Lastly, buried oil tanks are forbidden and must be removed prior to closing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Truro Native To Bike Across Europe & Russia - 10,000 Miles

If you think the PanMass Challenge is a long bike ride, Truro native Ellery Althaus’s upcoming pan-Eurasian bike trip will strike you as a challenge indeed: 1,000 miles a month for 10 months. And, Althaus is looking for sponsors to help make the trip possible.

Ellery Althaus and his friend, Levi Bridges, who is from Maine, will be flying from Boston to Moscow in late February. The two will travel the Trans-Siberian railroad across Russia to Vladivostok, on the Pacific side. There they will train and take a half-semester of intensive Russian at a local university, then head out on their bikes when the snow clears, westward into the wind across Russia. They will enter Europe through the Ukraine, then head down to Porto, Portugal. The 10,000-mile trip will take 10 months. Check out the Cape Codder story for more information. The trip will be chronicled on the bikers' website.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Outer Cape Economy - Graphically

The index card on the right is from the blog "Indexed". For the Outer Cape the left endpoint is the off-season and the right endpoint is August 1st.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Rental Room Tax Looming (Updated)

There is legislation afoot that will impose a 9.7% 'room' tax on seasonal rentals on the Cape (and all of Massachusetts). The state legislation to allow the towns to impose this tax is a near certainty. The towns may then impose the tax at their respective Town Meetings (Eastham's is May 4th). The 9.7% tax will be split, with the state getting 5.7% and the towns getting the remaining 4%. The purpose is to simply collect more money to cover budget shortfalls.

The discussion about this bill centers on 3 areas. Firstly, will this tax 'hurt' the summer rental business? Since most rental landlords want to keep their weekly rentals fees level (or slightly more) with 2008, the tax will be on top of the rental fees. The Outer Cape will then be 10% less competitive that other locations. This will hurt.

Secondly - Who will collect this tax? The current discussion is that the local rental agencies won't be collecting the fees, since they only represent a fraction of the total rental homes. Then who? and How?

Lastly - the vote. The vast majority of the landlords who own rental property on the Outer Cape don't live here. Therefore they will not get to vote at the town meetings. The taxes will be imposed by the folks who live in the towns, but they will not have to pay. This is certainly unfair to the rental homeowners.