The first phase of renovations at a New Silver Beach cottage (I deleted the previous posts, but more info below photos) are pretty much finished in time to at least enjoy this season. We will surely be doing more for next year. So when we write before and after, the “after” would be more accurately described as “currently.” Click any photo to enlarge and view as slide show. Apologies, as these are not our usual professional quality photos.

The Story

What have we gotten ourselves into? A common refrain from people who buy a fixer-upper. As agents, we are often on the other — advisory — side, counseling buyers to see the value that they can quickly add to a property via a couple of well-placed upgrades and fixes. Ah, but that advice is easy when it is other people’s money and it is a primary home. When it is more discretionary, such as a beach cottage, and it is your own money? What have we gotten ourselves into? Well, my wife and I were not even in the market for a beach house or an investment property. I mean, no more so than anyone who gazes dreamily at real estate listings in the windows of real estate offices in places they vacation, or online, or at open houses. But my parents have lived in Falmouth for summers for about the past dozen or so years. I take my bike down when we visit them, and go exploring up and down the coast of Buzzard’s Bay, from the Bourne Bridge down to Wood’s Hole. Until last summer, I don’t think I had ever made a left off of Wild Harbor Road — just past the charming Wild Harbor General Store in North Falmouth — into a little summer colony named New Silver Beach. But when I did, I was instantly smitten.

Wild Harbor in New Silver Beach

Silver Beach Harbor in New Silver Beach

And, lo and behold! There was a house with a for sale sign.

FOR SALE

FOR SALE

I took out my iPhone to pull up the listing. I scanned through the blurry and shadowy photos that made it look like something out of a German Expressionist film, all crooked angles, and just plain hard to make heads or tales of. I rode some more around the neighborhood to get a feel for the place.

See some way better shots here at the New Silver Beach Improvement Association site, by Danielle MacInnes.

New Silver Beach Neighborhood

New Silver Beach Neighborhood

A large marsh in the center separates the streets that were laid out in a sort-of star pattern off of the beach itself — and bordered by the smaller harbor named “Silver Beach Harbor” — and the more grid-like streets further to the east. The neighborhood is bordered along the east by Quaker Road — which leads down past the better-known Old Silver Beach to Capoquoit Beach —  and along the north by Wild Harbor Road, which leads to the Point in the west and terminates in the other direction at Old Main Road in North Falmouth, with the general store on the corner.

Historic Shot "New-Silver-Beach-Yard" Courtesy of Russ Tonner via New Silver Beach Dot Org

Historic Shot “New-Silver-Beach-Yard” Courtesy of Russ Tonner via New Silver Beach Improvement Association

The neighborhood was settled in the turn of the last century as a seaside beach colony along Wild Harbor in Buzzard’s Bay. Read a bit about it here at Wikipedia. It was fascinating to learn that there had been a hotel there. So now that we have the neighborhood established as a great location, which as we know is the premier concern when buying real estate, it’s time to consider the house itself. I got back from my bike ride that day in July, which was the last day of our Fourth of July Weekend, and mentioned it to my wife and parents. It turns out that my wife had noticed the listing when doing her own dream search. So I proposed we go see it. She agreed, which was slightly surprising to me, as she is the more pragmatic and conservative of the two of us. We drove by on our way out of town. The family loved the location, so I called the listing broker and I left her a message to see if perhaps there was a lockbox that I could use to let myself in as a broker. We walked around the neighborhood for a while but we had to get going. About 10 minutes after we had crossed the Bourne Bridge, the broker called, but we felt like it was not worth turning around for, seeming like such a long shot. The broker explained that the place need work and the sellers had already turned down one offer. It was a family selling it as an estate. My wife and I agreed that we would keep an eye on it and, if it was still available when we came back to Falmouth for Labor Day Weekend, we would go see it. I don’t recall thinking  about it much at first, though probably checked in on the listing from time to time. But as we got through August, we saw the price drop and started to get excited about visiting it. A deal came together when we returned for Labor Day Weekend. We closed in October, and then did some work on it over the late fall/early winter, picking up on it again in early spring.