WELLFLEET — Every Cape Cod real estate agent seems to have a story of this summer’s pandemic home-buying bonanza: homes going under contract the day they are listed, often with cash offers over the asking price.
Interviews with agents and home owners confirmed these reports. But the related chatter about ballooning enrollment in local schools appears to be exaggerated.
Kathleen Nagle of Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Wellfleet said she showed a home five times the same day it appeared on the Multiple Listing Service website. Three days later, 25 people had toured it and nine had made offers over the asking price. That home, 35 Silver Spring Road in South Wellfleet, sold for $566,090, $37,090 above the original price.
Paul Grover said his company, Robert Paul Properties, sold a home in Barnstable at 218 Long Beach Road that was listed on May 29 and under agreement by May 31. The property went on the market at $2,895,000 and sold for $2,995,000 with four competing offers. The buyers paid cash, said Grover.
A Truro home owner who asked not to be named because the sale was not complete sold his 4,000-square-foot house for $2.25 million in cash. With three acres on the ocean side of town, it had been on the market for two years. The property lacks internet service due to its remote location. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, his agent showed buyers from California the house on FaceTime. That afternoon, they made the offer without seeing the place in person.
Nagle said her job has actually been unpleasant because so many buyers are frustrated and everyone’s stressed out.
“Your heart goes out to those people who go over the asking price and then write heart-wrenching letters to the sellers,” Nagle said.
Brokers say the coronavirus forcing people to stay home has led to revelations about work.
“I think we’re seeing that people can work from home, and that maybe working from Wellfleet may be nicer than from their apartment in Boston or New York City,” said Nagle. “I think the quality of life here is appealing.”
The real estate boom narrative has been paralleled by reports about rising school enrollment. But on the Outer Cape, only the Provincetown Schools and Wellfleet Elementary School have seen significant gains. Provincetown will have 11 more students, said Supt. Suzanne Scallion, for a total of 142 in pre-K to eighth grade. Scallion attributed the increase to families who like Provincetown’s rigorous virtual education plan.
In Wellfleet, conversely, families are attracted to the in-person learning being offered at all the Nauset District elementary schools, said Wellfleet Principal Mary Beth Rodman. She reported having 10 definite new students and one more who is still deciding.
Parents have been forthcoming with their reasons, Rodman said. Most are living in their second homes in order to enroll their students in Wellfleet so they can attend school in person. The new families come from New York; California; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Cohasset; and Western Mass., Rodman said.
“In-person makes a big difference, especially for the elementary students,” said Rodman. “We have one family where the mother is staying in their year-round home with older siblings and the father is going to their Wellfleet home so their child can attend in person.”
Of the 108 students currently enrolled in Wellfleet, 89 are planning to attend in person, 13 will be taught remotely by school staff, and six will be home-schooled, Rodman said.
Enrollment at Truro Central School has stayed at about 115 for the past few years, said Supt. Michael Gradone.
Eastham Elementary’s student population is “slightly up” at 175, which represents normal growth, said Principal William Crosby. Orleans Elementary’s population has dropped by 10, from 185 to 175, according to Principal Elaine Pender’s office. Brewster’s Eddy School enrollment is about the same, with 10 new students. No one from Stony Brook Elementary in Brewster returned calls seeking comment.
Nauset middle and high schools have also not seen significant growth.
“We certainly had inquiries this past month, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has actually enrolled who isn’t an in-district resident,” said Middle School Principal Julie Kobold. “Our current enrollment is what we projected, but it is fluid.”
Nagle said she feels “schizophrenic” about recent developments. A hot real estate market squeezes year-rounders. Locals trying to buy into the market are shut out by people who earn big incomes off Cape.
“I’m on the board of Habitat For Humanity,” said Nagle. “We don’t have housing for people who work here. I think the town is going to be in trouble after this.”