Cape Cod Commission’s Housing Study Lays Out Recommendations for Region

The Cape Cod Commission recently completed a housing study for the region. The key points of the presentation revolved around housing demand versus housing availability, cost of housing, and the demographics of Cape Cod.


Housing supply continues to be in high demand on Cape Cod, with both year-round rental properties and affordable houses needing a big boost in inventory. According to the housing study,  there is an approximate demand of 22,000 housing units, and 7,000 year-round rental units. This means that approximately 29,000 units need to be created on Cape Cod to properly meet the needs of permanent residents, as well as the those who visit Cape Cod to vacation or work in the summer months


As of October 2017, the median sold price for a single-family home in Barnstable County was $360,000. The housing study states that for homes to be considered affordable (at market rate) in this market, the median price should be $325,000. Last year, through October, the median single-family home was $335,000 which means Cape Cod is becoming less affordable for many homebuyers. Decreasing inventory has been a factor in this, and as stated above, an increase in development could be one solution.

The study shows that currently, the most units needed are for those earning under $60,000 a year. However, the study states that, “By 2025, the greatest increase in housing stress is for those projected to earn $90,000 a year or more (for owners).” As the lower end of the market has been slow for a few years, those earning incomes in the middle will start to see more stresses on housing availability in their price ranges. Combining the factors in these two income ranges has left homeowners who make between $70,000 and $90,000 annually with nowhere to go as they are unable to afford a bigger home or to downsize.


All the above factors are affecting the demographic shift in Barnstable County. With less families able to purchase homes here, the under-19 age group has decreased year-over-year from 22.9% in 1990, to 15.9% of the total population forecasted by 2025. This is also true in the 25-44 age group with a decrease from 35% of the population in 1990 to 21.8% forecasted in 2025. The over 65 age group has the biggest increase jumping from 22.1% in 1990 to 35.1% of the population forecasted by 2025. Implementing solutions to address the lack of inventory for median earners ue could be one step towards retaining more young families on Cape Cod.


Here are the recommendations the Cape Cod Commission’s housing study lays out:

Recommendation 1: Adopt the following Housing Targets and create an Economic Efficient distribution to increase supply:
Municipalities on the Cape should recognize the regional nature of housing market and collectively adopt the following housing targets. Then, on an individual basis, they can start to work on their percentage share.

Recommendation 2: Conduct a Detailed Housing Market Preference Study.
A market preference study will provide critical information on how to distribute countywide
demand for housing by different market segments. It will also provide a level of housing market
details that has not been generated previously for Barnstable County. While this study provided
detailed analysis of future housing market demand by tenure and affordability, there are many
micro-market details that are unknown. The next steps of this analysis would be to determine
product preferences by the market segments

Recommendation 3: Supply the Demand for Compact Urban Forms
Single and two person households over 65 years of age is the demographic group that will dominate the Cape in the next 20 years. The demographic that the Cape’s economy needs to attract now but doesn’t have is young professionals between 25 and 35 years of age working in non-tourist sectors such as finance, technology, science and engineering. There is one common element that these two groups share: they are both demanding compact urban forms. Yet, the Cape in general (with some exceptions) is not meeting these demands.

Recommendation 4: Increase the Diversity of Senior Housing
Research revealed that many senior households are staying in their homes even though they are poorly maintained, inefficient, substandard and possibly dangerous simply because there is no place for them to go.

Recommendation 5: Increase the Diversity of Multi-Family Housing
The diversity of the County’s total housing stock is too homogenous. The County has three
times less rental units than the national average. An increase in multifamily development
projects for renters and owners at all price ranges is sorely needed today.

Recommendation 6: Create targeted strategies to diversify the economy
The most important long-term strategy to address the demand side of the Cape’s housing
challenges is to diversify the economy. This doesn’t happen automatically. A long-term concerted effort by all 15 municipalities, the County, and State governments, guided by a strategic road map, is needed.

Recommendation 7: Create a County-Level Housing Advisory Team
The County is missing an intergovernmental institution that is focused specifically on housing
issues. At a recent policy strategy session held on May 30, 2017 many participants requested to
increase the housing conversation, hold regular meetings, conduct follow-up policy sessions, and maintain a continuous stream of dialogue through public awareness campaigns, local government hearings, and intergovernmental coordination. While there are many independent private and non-profit entities on the Cape with separate missions to build housing, there is no organization that forces the integration of these efforts for a common purpose.

For more information, find the entire report, here.