Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Land Crave

As a reluctant salesman I try to consider my self more of a novice therapist. As a matter of fact, I always considered the term salesman to be somewhat derogatory and the occupation rather derisive. It evokes images of door to door encyclopedia peddlers with felt hats and slumped shoulders. Or even worse fast talking car dealers, teetering on the edge of morality.

I have met the hard sell real estate salesman, and frankly I can't stand those types. If you had to come up with a list of noble professions, I'm sure you would pick doctor, teacher, foster home worker, caregiver, etc. Real estate agent would be pretty far down on the list. And rightly so. There are much more noble professions than mine, but every once in a while I feel like I am really helping someone fulfill a dream.

This has happened a few times with land buyers. I was out with a couple last week. He is looking for land, at least twenty acres, and the only real requirement for him for the house is that it has a roof and four walls. She is a little bit more picky on the house, but not much.

Getting him out in the woods was like taking a kid to Disneyland. Owning space to roam. I think for some it is a primal need. I showed him four properties, and he loved every one.

I have had three or four such buyers over my real estate career. They are a joy to work with, not because they are easy buyers, some can be hesitant, but because there is a certain lack of suspicion and a real genuineness. They are acting on a dream.

Invariably it seems to come from a childhood memory. Everyone, when telling me what they are looking for, has a control, whether it be a big parcel that their grandparents owned that they used to roam as kids, or a summer camp they would attend. There was something that fostered this dream to own land.

But just watching this man this weekend, I realized that he has thought and planned and worked hard for this. This is his dream, and I am helping him achieve it. Noble? Not open heart surgery with a ball point pen noble, but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I think we all need.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


As the media continues to spell doom to the entire housing market, I am getting more calls from second home buyers looking for foreclosures. Invariably even if the prospective buyer doesn't begin with that topic, as we chat about what they are looking for, the subject always comes up.

It seems that some have this vision of finding the deal of a lifetime, and snatching up a wonderful little country getaway for a fraction of the cost.

Its like the urban myth of the "friend" who is subletting their grandmothers duplex in Chelsea, and paying only $600 a month. When I lived in Manhattan, everyone sort of knew somebody like that, but not really firsthand but they were spoken about with awe and reverence, and a bit of jealousy.

The problem with the foreclosure market in Sullivan County, is that that side of the housing market is very different than what most of the people I deal with are looking for. I attached a link to a typical foreclosed property here. Believe me this type of house is a dime a dozen.

Click Here

Most are in the south eastern part of the county, around Monticello, Fallsburgh area. Like the rest of the country, they are mostly primary homes, taken over by the bank after the owners have stopped paying. The houses are often in disrepair, and have been on the market at various prices throughout the foreclosure process. Contrary to what some might think, a home typically goes into foreclosure only when every other avenue has been tried. Banks do not like to lose money, and will not give a house away.

Now I am sure that there are some very nice second home style properties out there right now, where the owner is in a tough financial situation, but being upside down, or even attempting a short sale, does not automatically turn a deal into a steal.

I just heard of a house that is going to auction this week. It had been on the market for almost two years, the price dropping to 70% less than what was originally asked. The problem is that it is in a flood plain, with major water damage, and even at these low prices, buyers do not want to deal with that headache. I am curious to see what it sells for, but like anything else in life, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Froelich Road Houses

I posted last month about the three houses on the hill above Callicoon. Well the lower house finally closed last week. Price was $250,00o. Originally listed at $399,000--it is a nice house with some good views. I attached the picture below. The only downside is the driveway, which is quite steep. But I suppose at that price it still becomes worth it.

The upper house, however just came back as active on the mls. I am not sure why the deal fell through, but after sitting with signed contracts for almost two months, something happened to kill the deal.

I attached pictures below. This property has the driveway to contend with as well. But it is a nice big house, and the views are the best of any house on the market in the county. Hands down. It is listed at $329,000. Originally it was close to six..
I really believe that this house is one of the best deals on the market right now in this county. Any offer in the mid to high two's would probably get accepted. ( I do not know for sure, as I am not the listing agent.) But browse some listings in that price range. They don't even begin to compare.
Now couple that with a very low interest rate. Is this Apple stock pre ipod/iphone? Not quite, but three years from now, this house will not be worth less than $260,000. And interest rates will be higher.
If anyone is interested in viewing this home give me a shout.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Gaffken-Barriger fund wins first round

Interesting article in the River Reporter about the latest on Barriger. The link is below.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Gaffken-Barriger, they are a private investment company here in Sullivan County, that specialized in higher risk loans, with a high interest rate.

Well, when the market began to tank, numerous mortgagers defaulted, including a Florida based company, which had borrowed over ten million.

Those who had invested in the fund are insisting that they were "guaranteed" an eight percent return, and are quite upset, that not only are they not getting a return, the principle is gone as well. An investigation continues, but no criminal charges have been filed, and from what I hear, they are not expected.

It is rather sad. I met with an older couple last month, who must sell their house and move in with their daughter because they invested their life savings with the fund.

But I suppose this is a prime example of caveat emptor. With all the fast talking that I'm sure went on to convince people to invest, there must have been some fine print somewhere that this was a possibility. This was no Ponzi scheme, although I'm sure that is little solace for those who have lost their shirts.