Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Catskill Concierge

I have decided in my unending quest for extreme wealth, to start a business, while still building my real estate empire.

Seriously though, it seems that on every transaction, as the second home buyer nears the closing date, I start to get the questions. Do you know someone who can plow my driveway? Do you know a good plumber? What is the crime rate in this ares? Do I need a good security system?

Everyone is busy, and most people who are successful enough to afford a second home purely for leisure, are working pretty hard to achieve such a level of financial success, and it takes up a pretty healthy chunk of their time. Owning a second home requires a certain level of maintenance, and that part of home ownership can be a drag.

Most don't seem to mind the lawn mowing and gardening (because on 2nd ave and 84th, on the 12th floor, there is very little lawn) but the other stuff, general house work, snow plowing, window washing etc. Who wants to spend their weekends doing that? And then there is the dreaded "freeze-up" where the heat shuts off in an unoccupied house, and a pipe bursts.

So with the help of a small team of eager currently unemployed entrepreneurs, we are in the process of starting Catskill Concierge, a full service concierge service in Sullivan County. It is in its infancy stage, but I would love to hear some feedback, and hopefully a few customers. I attached a link to the new website below.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fixer-Uppers Are Still Out There

It has been awhile since my last post. I went away for a bit, and have been pretty busy, just trying to catch up, and field daily new inquiries. It seems that there is plenty of interest, but still only at the "bargain level" for whatever price range. It appears people's perspectives are still being dictated by the media, and the news that this may be the bottom has got people poking their heads up out of their respective foxholes, but again only if it is a "deal".

However some sellers are responding, and I have had a few calls on things that appear to be just that...a deal. I went out an previewed two properties this week that I had calls on. Now I suppose a "deal" is in the eye of the beholder, but these two properties in particular caught my eye enough to write about here.

Neither are my listing, so the suspicious folk do not need to worry that I am plugging my inventory.

Click here for listings

The old boarding home is a pretty unique building. First of all, it is set on 78 private acres. Some of it is open pasture and a nice stream, (although a pretty major portion is on a hillside). It has its own private wooden bridge to get to the property, and most (if not all) of its originality remains. I also added a couple of my own shots below. This is one of those properties that make you feel like you are stepping back into the fifties. All the bedrooms are small, but there are 12. Hardwood floors are original, the barn is also original and huge.

Check out the player piano with all the scrolls. Every once in a while you get the hair on the back of your neck cool feeling about a property, (kind of like when you hear a song you really like for the first time.) and this one definitely has it.

It is a ton of work--many would consider it a money pit or a headache, but an original old 1850's boarding house on 78 acres with a stream under three hours from midtown for $319,000 to me is a "deal". I say this one is in contract by Oct. 1. Anyone want to take an over/under on that?

The other property is considerably less money, but has the same kind of old originality. It was the general store in Galilee, PA for years. This property is also pretty big (five bedrooms and a big space downstairs), and needs work. Most of the original building remains, although there were some hodge-podge renovations over the years. Portions of the tin ceilings have been destroyed, which is a real shame, but I think they can be salvaged. Also, there is little evidence of Home Depot around.
However, this is another property where you feel like you are stepping back in time. Many times I hear the complaints that old-school originality is tough to find, and often what was once vintage is now covered by cheap '70's paneling or foofy 80's textured wall paper. Here are two of examples where the right person can really get in there, roll up there sleeves, and turn either one of these into a truly spectacular properties.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Bait and Switch and the High Maintenance Seller

I got a phone call from a listing of mine that they no longer wish to retain my services as their listing agent. They want to terminate the agreement, and attempt to sell the house on their own.

Now please understand this post is not about me defending my abilities as a listing agent, and defining their actions as impulsive and unwise, but rather the interesting situation as a whole for a real estate broker.

The listing agreement reads that should a prospective seller break the agreement before the expiration date, the agent is due financial consideration for advertising and services rendered. I know some brokers who hold clients to this, but I don't. If you are unhappy or just wish to move on, God bless. No hard feelings. The last thing I want is someone who feels trapped by my services. I do spend money on advertising, but rarely on one listing. It is more of a marketing approach as a whole.

Anyway, Mr. and Mrs. X want out. So be it. Their home was shown nine times in five months. Nine ready able and willing buyers who chose not to buy this particular home. The feedback? House too small 1,300 sq. feet. Bedrooms too small. Too close to the highway. Although urged, they were not willing to drop the price any further. (We did have three price reductions.) Again not blaming them. They are a very nice couple, who really would like to sell. I feel bad that I was not able to help them sell their home. I spent quite a bit of time with them, going over numbers, changing and moving signs, almost daily phone calls. It was a lot of work, for it to turn out to be nothing.

Or was it nothing? (This is where I finally get to my point.) Two couples that I showed Mr. and Mrs. X's house too, have made offers through me on other houses. One is within a half a mile, and has already signed contracts, and should close in the next few weeks. Without having that listing, and having the opportunity to market it, I would not have meet either couple or made either sale. Is it the bait and switch? I had the bait, and it did turn into a switch, so I suppose in the most basic form it was.

Now we all know that the illegal form is when the bait is non existent and is advertised purely as a lure. I just think it is interesting when you take a look at it, how well such a scheme can work.

There are a few Realtors in the area who leave listings on their websites long after they have either sold, or gone off the market. "Oh I'm sorry, that house just went into contract. But do tell, what type of home are you looking for?"

I do believe that Mr. and Mrs. X were a bit impulsive deciding to have a go at it on their own ( and if they list with another broker, so be it.) Nine showings in five months is pretty good for times like these. You can lead a horse to water...

Did I fail? I failed Mr. and Mrs. X, but I did not fail my business, or the two buyers who found homes.