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No September Inventory Bump on Cape Cod

Aerial View of Cape CodOriginally published by Banker & Tradesman on October 15, 2023 at

End of Summer Season Brings Little Relief This Year

Cape Cod real estate brokers are hoping for a stronger fourth-quarter showing after a lackluster first nine months of 2023.

Anecdotally, a number of industry players say they’re seeing a somewhat impressive post-Labor Day bump in the number of homes for sale on the rustic peninsula, potentially reversing an 18-months trend of falling home sales across Barnstable County.

“We’ve had a big jump [in listings] so far this fall,” said Katie Clancy, sales vice president of William Raveis Real Estate in Yarmouthport. “We’re expecting a stronger end-of-year finish.”

Daneen Law, a real estate associate at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Orleans, is also seeing signs of a potentially stronger inventory towards the end of 2023, noting that 754 homes were listed for sale as of Oct. 10, about double the number listed as of early 2022.

Individual Cape brokers may well be seeing small, and sometimes even large, boosts in listings post-Labor Day, a traditionally strong time for the Cape real estate market, after summer rentals end and vacationers leave in droves.

But the latest real estate stats from the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors aren’t picking up what agents are anecdotally seeing – at least not yet.

Listings Down, Prices Up Modestly

According to CCIAOR data for Barnstable County, pending sales of singled-family homes were up 1.1 percent in September compared to the same month a year ago, but new single-family listings stood at 336 in September, down 11.1 percent compared to a year ago.

For condominiums on the peninsula, pending sales were down 4.3 percent in September, with new listings up by 4.5 percent, off a relatively small base of 88 listings in September 2022.

The bottom line: At least as of the end of September, the fall Cape market looked roughly the same as the winter, spring and summer markets.

According to data from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, single-family home sales in Barnstable County had fallen 23 percent through Aug. 31. There were noticeably large year-to-date sales declines in the villages of Barnstable (down 54.5 percent compared to a year ago) and Hyannis (down 42.1 percent) in the city of Barnstable, and in the town of Dennis (down 40 percent).

Meanwhile, the median single-family sale price increases were modest, at least by recent Cape standards, hitting $661,500, up 3.8 percent through Aug. 31 year-over-year. Five of Barnstable County’s 20 towns actually saw year-to-date price decreases through August, according to The Warren Group – Brewster, Harwich, Mashpee, Marstons Mills and Truro.

Across the Cape, condo sales were down 24.5 percent during the first eight months of 2023, The Warren Group said, compared to the same period last year. But the median condo sale price outperformed single-family prices, rising by 6.7 percent to $433,750 through the end of August.

Optimism for Q4

Laura Clements, owner-broker of Cove Road Real Estate in Orleans, said she’s seen strong activity in general in the Cape towns she covers – and she’s also seen a small increase in her firm’s listings of late.

“There’s still a lot of buyers out there,” said Clements. “I’m still seeing multiple bids on homes.”

This past spring’s market was “fairly healthy,” but the summer market was “ridiculously slow” in terms of sales, she said.

In talking to other real estate agents and brokers across the Cape, Clements said she’s “very, very encouraged” to hear that there may be a boost in Cape listings late this year and early 2024.

“I think we’re going to see an uptick in sales” later in the fourth quarter, she said.

Still, Cape industry players agree: A seller has to be very careful when setting initial asking prices. Ask for too much, and a home may sit for a while on the market, they say.

Clancy of William Raveis in Yarmouthport said a condo in Dennis recently went on the market too high, at $399,000, and ended up sitting unsold for 3 weeks. The asking price has recently been lowered to $350,000 in the hope of selling it soon.

“If a place is priced right and if it’s what people want, it will go fast,” she said. “But if it’s mispriced, it simply won’t sell.”

Sellers Must Curb Expectations

As for inventory in the Cape market, Clancy said a large percentage of properties for sale are owned by those who, for whatever reasons, are compelled to sell their houses or condos.

But if they can avoid selling now – with no other properties to buy for themselves – they’ll “just keep what they already have,” she said.

Gibson Sotheby's International Realty's Law said homes in the $500,000 to $600,000 range still attract intense interest from buyers on the Cape, often generating multiple bids. Ocean-front homes are also in huge demand.

Overall, though, the market just hasn’t performed as well as it has in the past this year, said Law. While demand is still strong, higher interest rates have discouraged many potential buyers.

“That past feverish feeling has definitely waned,” she said.

As a result, sellers have to be “more realistic,” even though it’s still a seller's market, said Law. “Their expectations [for prices] have to be curbed a bit,” she said.

She noted that a three-bedroom home in East Orleans came on the market in late August at $1.7 million – and hasn’t sold. Now the seller is considering an asking-price cut to lure in buyers.

Largely because of the hesitation of cost-conscious buyers, Law said she sees more price reductions heading into the final months of 2023.

“I’m see an overall leveling off in prices,” she said.

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