From the desk of Matthew Cole – 1/25/16
As we close the chapter on 2015 and look forward to 2016 it is natural to reflect on the past year. By all measures the Cape had a very robust ‘season’ this past year. Hotels and rental home bookings were up at record levels and the season seems to be getting longer each year. At an event at Chatham Bars Inn this past October their General Manager noted they were sold out for that weekend, something I didn’t expect to hear. The real estate market seems to be chugging along at a healthy pace. Many stats point to 2015 being a very good year – number of sales, days on market, percentage of original price received, inventory of homes for sale and months of supply of inventory – all finishing the year better than the prior year. The one outlier in the data is the average sales price (down 1.6% versus 2014). We saw an increase in activity from new home purchasers this past year indicating many buyers had an appetite to do something beyond their purchase in the way of repairing, maintaining or expanding their property.
For Cape Associates, 2015 was a busy year. We continue to perform the same broad spectrum of construction and home maintenance services, from Plymouth to Provincetown; this has not changed in quite some time. We continue to strive to be the one (and only) phone number homeowners need to call for anything as small as replacing a door knob to building a new multi-million dollar custom home or commercial building (and everything in between). Given that the Cape is – and has been for some time – a built-out environment, so much of the work that we do involves starting with a structure of some sort and either renovating that structure or tearing it down and starting over.
We love staying connected to the homes we build through our Home Property Watch service, Painting and Services groups. In one instance this past year we tore down a house we built in the 70’s, that had been in our Home Property Watch service and made it into a beautiful new home for the family to enjoy for generations to come. We never forget how lucky we are to stay connected with these homes after the initial project and how lucky we are to live and work in such a special place.
One headwind for us as a company and our broader industry has been the tight supply of skilled labor on Cape Cod and the surrounding region. It is clear that we lost population during the ‘Great Recession’ which is slow to come back. Boston’s construction market being very busy doesn’t help our cause. Our team has stepped up and done some amazing work in the way we recruit top talent and in the way we share knowledge in formal training settings. Our training programs will help us share the hundreds of years’ worth of knowledge our staff has and continue to develop various career paths at all levels of the organization. We are engaged with the local tech schools to recruit students as soon as they become eligible for a work-study program. Through our local association, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod, we have reached out to local high school students to attract them to a career in the trades.
The issue of a limited workforce is not exclusive to the building industry. With efforts being put forth by organizations like Cape Cod Young Professionals and Shape the Cape (www.shapethecape.org) we’re hopeful that we’re on the right track to a stronger, more diverse workforce for our region.
If the Great Recession taught us anything, it taught us that the Cape is a special place, a place sought after with high demand by both residents and seasonal visitors alike. There is overwhelming support of the idea that we need to preserve that which makes Cape Cod so special for current and future generations to enjoy. We stand committed to helping build the great community around us and to helping our clients enjoy their time spent here. If there is anything we can do for you, please reach out to us with as much advance as possible. July and August continue to be our slowest months for our guys in the field executing the work we do; these are always busy months for our office staff lining up, estimating and permitting projects that start in the fall. We have a pretty full dance card now thru Memorial Day (this is fairly typical given the seasonality of the construction cycle on Cape). We work hard to accommodate all needs and requests, on a first come first served basis. Thank you for your continued support of our business, we and our families greatly appreciate it!
It’s difficult to talk about the State of the Cape without at least mentioning the HBO special that was recently released, Heroin: Cape Cod, USA. In fact, we have received numerous inquiries from clients and friends on the subject. My thoughts on this subject can be found here.