Things to Know If You Are Looking To Buy a House on Nantucket

Since the 1960s, the New England island of Nantucket has become one of the leading destinations for second home buyers and summer home purchases. In fact, it has often been referred to as “the new Martha’s Vineyard,” and the real estate sales volumes have reached record-high levels in 2021.

Since the number of available houses and properties for sale are very limited, future buyers need to act quickly. But before closing the deal, here are some things that you need to know if you are planning to invest in a home on the island of Nantucket.

Are you ready for island living?

For people who have lived on the mainland all their lives, it can be hard to understand the specifics of living on an island.

Firstly, Nantucket is 30 miles south of Cape Cod, and the only way to get to and from it is via ferry or plane. So, in case of extreme weather and storms, it may be impossible to travel to and from it at all.

This distance is the reason for the higher shipment and delivery costs to the island as well. This factor is the reason for the higher prices of many goods in Nantucket compared to the same products sold on the mainland.

And lastly, since the island is quite small, and the permanent residents are just over 10,000 people, it isn’t easy to live there and go around without being recognized. So, if you are looking for anonymity and privacy, the tiny island of Nantucket may not be the best choice for you.

As mentioned earlier, Nantucket can be reached only by air or sea. Getting your car to Nantucket is costly and is possible via the Steamship Authority Traditional Ferry from Hyannis Port in Cape Cod.

You can check the complete schedule for all ferries traveling to and from the island for 2022 here.

Do you have a favorite Nantucket neighborhood?

While the island is relatively small, Nantucket still has different neighborhoods and areas, each of which has its own specific vibe, style, and pros and cons.

Before choosing a home there, you should familiarize yourself with these specifics so that you can ensure that your new home will be in accordance with your preferences, expectations, and lifestyle.

The Historic Downtown Nantucket is a neighborhood where most of the poshest restaurants, boutiques, and stores are located. It is also the busiest neighborhood, especially during the summer, when the population of the island surges to up to 50,000 people.

Next to the Town is the Brant Point Light area on the northern shore of Nantucket. The beaches there have the calmest and warmest water and are the most suitable for families with small children.

Cisco and Madaket are areas that are more popular among young people, surfers, and adventurers.

Siasconset or Sconset is a charming and quaint village with a peaceful vibe, overflowing gardens, and gray shingle-style cottages.

There are many other areas with their advantages and disadvantages, so make sure to do your research before investing in a property on the island.

Building and renovation are complicated, restricted, and costly

If you are planning on renovating or building in Nantucket, you should be prepared for several things. First of all, due to the strict preservation policies on the island, there are very stringent rules and regulations for the allowed renovation or construction works there.

You will be required to comply with these regulations, even for things such as the height of the house, the material and color of the shingles, the colors used, and many others.

Plus, renovation and construction costs can be significantly higher than those on the mainland due to the cost of shipment of construction materials and the fact that the labor may need to be “imported” from the mainland USA as well.

You will need to pay a 2% Land Bank Fee

According to the local laws, all property owners need to pay a 2% fee of the price of the property to the Nantucket Land Bank. This money goes for the purchase and conservation of the natural habitat and resources on the island. It is why all of the beaches are open and free for access and why almost 50% of the wildlife and nature of the island are conserved, and any development is forbidden.

It is worth knowing that since 2021, there has been an exemption for this fee for first-time homeowners paying up to 850,000 dollars for real estate where they plan to live all year round rather than only during the summer.

Maintaining your house can be quite costly

Just like with the renovations and construction work, the all-year-round maintenance and upkeep of a house on the island can be rather expensive.

Keep in mind that the weather in the winter can be pretty harsh, with storms and floods that can cause severe damage to the buildings on the island.

So, you will need to pay somebody who can reliably protect and repair your property, especially when you are not living there.

Renting out private homes is common practice

Since many property owners do not inhabit their houses all year round, they offer their beautiful Nantucket homes for rent to visitors and vacationers.

This rental business is very well established in Nantucket, so you can easily find a rental company or expert who can take care of renting out and maintaining your property there. And it should be even easier to find people willing to rent your home for a short or longer period of time.

This is the best way to ensure that you get back some of your investments for buying property in Nantucket.

The zonal regulations

Apart from the permits for renovations and building, there are local zoning laws that you need to comply with as well. These regulations define the rules for building and expanding a property, the ground cover percentages, the requirements for front and setback, and more, depending on where the property is located.

Keep in mind that these zonal regulations are constantly changed and updated, so make sure to hire a local contractor or architect to help you with the latest information and options for your project in Nantucket.

Ready to join a tight-knit and highly involved community?

The people of Nantucket, especially the permanent residents, are dedicated to protecting the history of the island and conserving its nature. So, you should be prepared for getting included in a very tight-knit community where everyone is actively involved in bettering the life on the island. This includes participating in different organizations, making donations, helping with labor, and more.

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