I’ll just say it up front. There might be no better time to sell your home than right now. That may sound like salesperson hyperbole—but by my reckoning we are at the height of the market and at the end of a long, prosperous economic cycle. If history tells us anything about the real estate market on the Cape, we are due for some kind of correction. The question is, will it be a 10 percent reduction, 20 percent or more?
Recently I have seen many properties negotiate multiple offers—folks lined up with cash offers and early closing dates so designed to sweeten a deal is not uncommon. Just last week I saw a property evoke such an emotional response that three buyers wrote letters to the seller trying to convince them that their deal was the best one. If you have any intention of selling, you would be wise to take advantage of the current situation. It probably won’t last much longer.
For the first quarter this year 229 units sold on the Upper Cape. There is virtually nothing available on the market under $250,000. About a third of the inventory is priced between $250,000 and $500,000, and another third of the inventory is between $500,000 and above $1,000,000.
These numbers are representative of what’s going on in the Lower Cape and mid-Cape.
Within the Upper Cape, which includes the towns of Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee and Sandwich, the sales in Falmouth represent a little less than half of the total units sold, at 96 units. The median sales price for a home in Falmouth is $472,000; in contrast Bourne is at $351,000, Mashpee at $411,000, and Sandwich at $385,0000.
As you would expect, the number of units sold per year since 2016 is consistently between 90 and 120, with the median sales price going up from $349,000 to $472,000 for the same time period. The average sales price in 2016 was $473,000 and in 2019 it is $662,000.
Right now what is languishing on the market are houses unrealistically priced and houses that need a lot of work. If you have a house that is very well-maintained and it is realistically priced, you can expect to sell your house almost immediately. That does not take into account houses with floor plan issues or difficult locations.
For the most part buyers are looking for a turnkey purchase. They do not want to tackle home improvement projects or hire a builder—and rightly so. Building costs continue to rise but despite that most builders are booked solid. Over the last decade as building regulations become more complicated, requirements for maintaining a building license more rigorous, less people are staying in the industry. That can be a good thing because you can expect the builders that are in business to hold a pretty high standard while other less qualified people find other employment. Of course, the downside is that there are just fewer builders doing the work. The old joke—What builder did you go with? The one that called back—is just as true today as ever.
My advice is to plan ahead, take time to make your house as project-free as possible. Make sure the landscaping looks good. If everything is in order, you should have no problem selling your house. The days of the house flip seem to be long gone, but if you have owned your house for a while I believe there is no better time to sell.
Unlike the stock market the real estate market is slow to move up or down. It does so deliberatively, glacially but always in cycles. I feel that we are near the top and that if selling is in your future, now is the time.