Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interesting Listing

Once again my blogging has lagged. And once again it is because I'm busy. This past weekend I was out showing both days. Buyers are returning, as the air is warmer, and the prices and interest rates are lower.

The market has definitely changed, and I think for the better. I remember the days when I used to cringe when I would get calls for prospective buyers looking in the 150 to 200 range, and anything lower was really crap. I remember early last spring (march '08) I showed fifteen houses to a guy in that mid $150,000's range all around the county. He wasn't looking for anything extravagant. I believe it was three bedrooms, two bath with a little charm and privacy. Some of the things we looked at were absurd. It got to the point where showing was no longer any fun, and at times it felt like a real waste of time.

I believe the people who drive the real estate market in this county, are a gen x subdued version of the yuppie. (although if you call them that, they would be somewhat indignant) At any rate, our county is very dependant on that particular city-folk weekender. Not ultra-rich, but rather one where a second home is a big purchase, and one in which serious sacrifices must be made to make that dream a reality.

Those folks began to get priced out of the market, and that is when our version of the real estate bubble burst.

But now those people are able to look again, and see things in their price range that they like. The reason this all came about is because I was speaking to a customer about a particular property he likes.

This property is in Cochecton. It is a 1900 farmhouse on 28 acres, with the original barn, and all the original floors and walls. (The dreaded 70's paneling did not manage to infestate this one.) It has its normal farmhouse drawbacks, one bath, funny shaped kitchen, a lot of paint and elbow grease will be needed. I attached a few pics below, courtesy of Malek.

Current price is $248,000. This is one of those properties with good bones--actually great bones. The acreage does have the millennium pipeline cutting through a portion, but it is somewhat flat and has a big stream.
If you take this property, and refinish the farmhouse to its glory, and do it slowly as a project while you come up on weekends, what will this property be worth in lets say ten years, if the market rebounds.
I know at the height of the boom, a redone property like this was selling for mid sixes. You couple this with a low 4.5% interest rate, and all of the sudden it makes sense to buy it, not only as a labor of love, but as an investment. The naysayers will moan about how we are not at the bottom, and it is much to risky, but they also would have told you not to buy stock when the market was at 6,700, almost 1,000 points ago.
And in ten years when the interest rate is 8.6 and our median price here is up 48%, we may look back and say. Shoulda bought at the bottom.
Its gonna be fun to read some of the e-mails I get on this one...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My New Listing

First off the house I wrote about in my previous post sold for $450,000. Not bad I was guessing less. I am sure the new owners are going to love it. It really is a special property.

I think in this down market, where every buyer seems fixated on value, and finding that elusive bargain we have lost sight a little bit on why people buy second homes in this county. I think this concept has been touched on in other blogs, but at the risk of sounding like the department of the redundancy department, I would like to put my own spin on it.

People buy here for a lifestyle--a getaway--for rest and peace of mind. That is why the real estate department varies so tremendously here. A suburban ranch in Monticello will be priced very differently than a small quaint farmhouse on a quiet road, although both may have similar square footage, and be only a few miles from each other.

With that being said, I have a new listing in Black Forest Colony, which is a private preserve/development in Lumberland. There is over 1,100 acres set aside for the residents to use--hike, hunt fish atv, whatever. This particular property is five acres with a great year round stream, a private wooden bridge is the only way to get to it. It is deep in the woods. The house itself is more of a cabin. I attached pictures below. It was built in the fifties, and as a lot of charm. All original woodwork, etc.

You can see more pictures on my website. Now you may think I am pumping this property because it is my listing, and that is true, but I think it also brings up an important issue on value. We decided to list this property at $245,000. It has less than 1,000 square feet. Some will probably look at this listing at shake their heads, and murmur something about overpriced in a market such as this.
But there is no other listing in Sullivan County that is similar. It has what very few properties have. Complete seclusion, access to land for recreation, and some real authenticity.
In my opinion it is a simple case of supply and demand. That is why we decided to price it the way we did. Special properties will carry inherit value despite fluctuations in the market, because the appeal will always be there.
At rate shoot me an e-mail if you agree, or if you think I am way off base.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another 400K Plus House in Contract

Another favorite house of mine just went into "contract signed" status on the MLS. This house
is an Alpine log home on ten acres in Lumberland. I attached some pictures below.

It has three bedrooms two baths, a beautiful field stone fireplace, it is made with 18' logs. Completely secluded on ten acres, which adjoins state land.

This house has that rare feeling, where you just want to take a deep breath and relax when you step out onto the deck. The view of high point New Jersey is really nice, (in fact you can see three states from the deck)
The seller bought this house in early 2006 for $625,000. About a year and a half later, he put it back on the market. (I believe it was because of a job relocation) Initially it was put back on for $759,000. And why not? it was the height of the boom, and this really is a special property.
Well the property sat. Perhaps the cool off had finally started, and buyers just felt it was too much. Or maybe it was into that upper bracket where there is fewer buyers. At any rate, despite numerous showings, it sat.
There was a series of price drops, and a switch of listing agencies. The last list price was $499,000, and it sat at that price throughout the winter. I showed it a few times, and had an interested party, but they felt the market was too unstable, and decided to play the wait and see game.
But then Friday it went into contract signed. A quick e-mail to the listing agent indicated that it is all but a done deal, money is transferred, and it will close in a few days. I am very curious to see what the final price was. I am guessing low fours, but would not be surprised if it is in the three's. I will be sure to post when I know.
This is a situation where the current seller bought with cash back in '06 so he didn't have to worry about being "upside down". He took the 100k plus loss.
I believe that as reality sets in, we will see more and more of these type of deals. Real estate is still moving, but we are still searching--not so much for a bottom but a range--a place where we can gauge market value.
At least it is better than a dead standstill.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interesting Article on Gas Drilling

Steve McConnel wrote an interesting article on gas drilling in Wayne County. I included the link below.

I think the most interesting thing (besides the obvious lack of permits coming in) is the fact that Stone Energy Corp. spends well over a million dollars in leases, brings in all the equipment and man power to drill, yet fails to apply for a permit from the DRBC to drill. I would love to have heard the conversation with the guilty party when the head honchos at that company found out that the drilling had been stopped. That's a pretty big oops.

I guess we will wait and see what happens. Has the bad economy and cheaper gas prices really squelched the Sullivan County natural gas rush? I for one hope so.