Bob Sheldon at RE/MAX Coastal Properties
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It's no surprise that the Eastham real estate market is very seasonal. What's surprising is when the 'best' season actually is. Although the summer sees many more folks out here, they tend to be busy with beaches and clam chowder. Many homes are not show-able due to renters. Many homes are only showable during change-overs, typically Saturdays between 10 and 2. The summer season goes from the July 4th weekend to Labor Day.

Spring is generally our best season, but it both starts and ends slowly. The start is governed by the weather, starting roughly March 1st or when the snow leaves New England. We generally have a goodly number of new listings in the spring.
Fall is our 2nd best season. Starting at Labor Day and ending in early to mid-November, when folks start to be preoccupied with the Holidays. September tends to see our biggest influx of new listings. Nicely, October is often the biggest single month for closings.
I love the winter marketplace. There are fewer Buyers, but they are serious buyers. They aren't distracted by beaches or anything else. Winter buyers also have to endure winter weather, cold homes, and lower inventory levels.

Title V Septic Systems

As I'm sure any good agent would tell you, any home sold in Eastham must have a working Title V (ie '5') septic system. That's a good thing. But what does that mean? A Title 5 septic has 3 components. They are...

  1. The septic tank - this is generally a 1000 gallon or 1500 gallon concrete tank that takes all the liquids and solids that leave the toilets, sinks, washing machines, and tubs/showers in the house. This tank is fully enclosed (and underground) with an intake port at one end and an outtake port at the other end, with a baffle positioned such that only liquids leave the tank. Additionally, there are 2 or 3 ports for inspection and periodic cleaning. The 'normal' state of a septic tank is full since both the intake and outtake are near the top of the tank.
  2. A Distribution Box (D-Box) - this is a smaller component that acts as a distribution point between the septic tank and the last component. In some cases there are several septic tanks and/or several downstream components. The D-Box should only have liquids coming in to it.
  3. The Soil Absorption System (SAS) - this is the component of the system that allows the liquid effluent to re-enter the ground aquifer. In Eastham, this component is usually a concrete pit. It has slots in its sides and an open bottom and sits in a bed of gravel. The 'normal' state of this pit should be empty or near-empty since the liquids percolate into the soil.


So - a passing Title V septic system has the following characteristics
  1. The septic tank is full, baffles in place, and solids make up less than 1//3 of its contents. If it is more than a 1/3 solids, it needs to be pumped
  2. The D-Box needs to only have liquids in it. The D-Box also seems to attract roots from nearby trees, which need to be removed.
  3. The SAS (if a pit) needs to be empty or nearly empty. If it's full, then the system needs to have the SAS replaced 
  4. The number of bedrooms in the house must match the design specs of the system.There can be no dry wells or cesspools on the property for showers, washing machines, etc. Outdoor showers are OK.
  5. If the driveway is over the septic area, the system must be of a 'hardened' design (known as H-20).
  6. Importantly in Eastham - there must be a professionally engineered Title 5 septic plan, with test hole percolation data, on file with the Town.


I've risked over-simplifying this since the Title V regulations, in total, are hundreds of pages of fine print. If you have any questions about your system, please give me a call.


What's the Definition of a Bedroom?

The question often comes up as to what makes for a bedroom and how many bedrooms can a particular house have? To start, the definition of a bedroom in Eastham is fairly simple. To be a bedroom a room needs 4 things...

1.            it needs to be at least 70 sq ft

2.            It needs to be at least 7 ft tall. Some rooms in antique homes get a 'pass' on this requirement since the second floors of antique Capes can be very short

3.            It needs to have a window or door that a firefighter can drag you through

4.            It has a door that, if closed, provides the occupant with a measure of presumed privacy. This ignores any exterior windows.

Notice that there is no furniture or closet in the definition..

So, that said, how any bedrooms can a home have? If you start with open dirt, a lot can, by right, support one bedroom for every 10,000 sqft. Therefore, an acre, 43,560 sqft, can support 4 bedrooms, by right, with a conventional 'Title 5' septic system. The good news is that most homes in Eastham predate these rules. The number of bedrooms in a particular home is

•             The actual number of rooms that meet the bedroom requirement (above) OR

•             The capacity of the septic system OR

•             The Title 5 limitation (also above),

whichever is less. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there are exceptions. Each house needs to be evaluated on its own merits. If you'd like a 'determination' of the number of bedrooms in your home, without consequence, please give me a call.