Cape Cod has always been known for its quaint cottages that are as inviting to renters and summer folk as beach sand and flip-flops. But in many cases, it seems that people are searching for properties that could be renovated or torn down completely to be replaced with larger, more modern homes. Is there still a market for those iconic Cape Cod houses?
Jim Kalweit, owner of Kalstar Realty Services in Sandwich, says that it’s millennials who are in the market for the nostalgic look of a Cape Cod cottage. “A lot of the houses on the water have that charm that the younger generation are looking for,” says Kalweit.
But the classic charms of the Cape—exposed brick, gray shingles and screened-in porches—require a lot of upkeep, especially with many of these homes being built in the early ’90s.
Kalweit says that while buyers of older generations aren’t always interested in the frequent maintenance older homes require, younger generations are more willing to put in the work to keep these homes looking quaint.
The size of the typical Cape home is also a draw for the younger generations. Many classic Cape Cod houses are two-bedroom with one bath, which poses a problem for large families or buyers who want more space. But these Cape cottages are right on trend with the current desire for micro-housing. “In years past, the ‘McMansion’ was what people wanted. Now they want multiple small houses in multiple locations,” says Kalweit.
Location plays a big role in Cape Cod real estate. While some want a house within walking distance to the beach, others want one with proximity to the creeks and waterways of the local marshes. Marsh homes give owners the opportunity to use the waterways for kayaking, nature-watching or fishing. Bernie Klotz, of Kinlin Grover, says that one of the issues with summer cottages is that “they are in areas where the flood insurance is a big issue.”
This poses a problem for younger buyers, who may not be able to avoid the high insurance prices. However, a common trend is for buyers to pay in cash to avoid the insurance fees. “A disproportionately high number of sales are cash,” Klotz says. “The people in that category have some disposable income.”
Jim Kalweit agrees, saying that it’s more common for buyers to be cashing out of their annuities and 401k’s in order to retire. This allows them to “finally buy their dream Cape location.”
Even though the houses on the Cape may be appealing to those of younger generations, “the average age on the Cape is escalating,” Kalweit says. “We’re still a destination location.”