Cape Cod Life, April 2018 |

Land, ho?

Cape Cod Life  /  April 2018 / ,

Writer: Deb Boucher Stetson

Few parcels available in today’s market

From left to right: Lori Fanning Smith, Jack Cotton and Tori Harrison.

Few parcels available in today’s market

Gone are the days when you can snap up a piece of land on Cape Cod, bargain or not. These days, there isn’t much buildable land for sale, so those looking to build their dream home here have to get creative.

Jack Cotton of Sotheby’s real estate in Osterville says these days, people looking for land are often better off buying a parcel that’s already built on and doing a tear-down.

Most remaining vacant land, he says, may be less than desirable in terms of location.  “If you want proximity to everything—water, beach, village—your options are very limited. If you want proximity, a tear-down is your best bet.”

Lori Fanning Smith, of Pine Acres Realty in Chatham, agrees. “There is very little land left,” she says. “You still have parcels that pop up here and there, but there are definitely a lot more tear-downs happening to provide the locations that people are looking for.”

She did recently sell a 7-acre parcel that is now being developed with five home sites. “Those are few and far between,” she says of such sizable lots. “A lot of what’s left has been in families for a long time, and finally they have to sell.”

Tori Harrison, also with Sotheby’s in Osterville, recently had such a listing, an 18-acre parcel across from Peter’s Pond Park that was part of a larger piece; smaller parcels were sold individually. People were thrilled about the listings, she says, because land is so scarce. “Some buyers are looking for that option, to purchase a piece of property and put their own stamp on it,” she says. “When the family’s land was first listed last July I was probably fielding four or five calls a day. There’s not a lot of land left.”

Still, it can take some time to sell land, because people are very particular. “People are trying to find the perfect piece,” Harrison says, or they may think a tear-down is a better idea. Then there’s the process of finding out what can be built on the land. “Most offers are contingent upon building permits,” she notes.

Jack Cotton says it takes a certain kind of person to want to build rather than buy a house. “People looking for land are people who don’t want to buy someone else’s dream,” he says. “Everybody’s different. Everybody has different goals and desires. Some people just have to have things their way, and those are the ones who want to build.”