Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene in Pictures

All my weekend appointments canceled in anticipation of the storm, so the last few days have not revolved around real estate. I couldn't take the network news coverage much past Sat. morning. The buildup was ridiculous. I know it was a category 1 hurricane, and nothing like this has hit the east cost in thirty years, but sixteen mind numbing hours of batten-down-the-hatches coverage? Bloomburg and Christie got plenty of face time. Every time I put on the t.v. it was one or the other.

Well our power went out early Sunday morning, but the real crux of the storm did not hit my section of Sullivan County until probably between 2 and 5 PM. It was blustery and rainy before that, but the winds really kicked into high gear around 2, and blew pretty steady for the next few hours.

By that time I had some major cabin fever, so I headed out to see what damage Irene had done. Nothing really major. We had a bunch of trees down, and the Delaware and all the streams were pretty flooded. We got our power back here in Callicoon pretty quickly, but as I write this Monday morning, many in our areas are still out.

Delaware River above Hankins

Looking Downstream

Tree down on Obernburg Hill

Volunteer fireman cleaning up CR 121 above Hankins

On the mountain on CR 121. You can't really tell by the picture, but the clouds were moving, and the wind was really blowing. Christie would have told me to get the hell off the mountain.


Callicoon Creek

Jeffersonville Creek

Trees and debris in Callicoon

Hankins Creek

Another tree on a wire in Milses above McGurrins. For a moment I thought about trying to make it, but that is not how I want end the legacy.

Somebody had already cleared a way through. Fremont Township

Another of the Delaware. It crested at 2AM Monday. No big issues

There were eight properties listed as sold in the Sullivan County MLS in the last seven days. Click Here for Report

My pick of the week is one of my listings. It is an old farmhouse on Menderis Road in Swan Lake on five acres. This really is a special spot. It is very secluded, and it has an old post and beam barn, huge blueberry bushes and apple trees and grapevines. It is a short sale, and we currently have it listed at 169K. It is a great price, but I have only had one showing on it since I listed it last month. Someone is going to come along and fall in love with this property. Swan Lake Farmhouse

Monday, August 22, 2011


Once again my blog post is later than I would have liked, but the fact of the matter is, I have had a very busy week. I got offers on both of my lakefront listings this week, after a summer selling season of little action. Both weekend days were full of appointments, as well as some showings during the week. It is like people realized it is Aug. and they better get in gear.

Both of my showings this weekend were Manhattanites, mid thirties, looking for a second home. What was different about both couples is they were not necessarily looking for privacy. They were looking for convenience. It was a little surprising, because I have gotten used to seclusion being sort of the mantra for the urban searchers. For many they want to be tucked away among the trees, out of sight from Fri. until Sunday.

Well it seems as I encounter more of these thirty-something shoppers, their priorities are different. First of all many do not own cars. Now if you are to buy in Sullivan County, you have to own a car. (Or rent one every weekend.) So I have had a few buyers who are looking for a house and car at the same time. However the issue is, many want to entertain in their upstate home, and most of their friends don’t have cars. So rather than having a house out in the woods, where house guests will be essentially trapped for the duration, dependant on the hosts to go anywhere, they are looking for closer, even in-town homes, where a guest can get up earlier than everyone else if they choose, and stroll into town for a bagel and coffee.

Also both buyers I took out this weekend are considering the Ulster/Greene county areas. There are a lot of reasons why they like Sullivan County better (besides price--we are on average 25% cheaper) one made the comment that our area has a “country feeling” that those more populous areas have lost. However what those areas do have is a train. This is a huge draw for thirty-something buyers. Guests can hop a train to Rhinbeck, or Kingston, and be picked up at the train station. Even a day trip visit is possible with a 90 minute scenic Hudson Valley train ride.

I think this is another example of how our county is lagging behind. Yes we are dependant on tourism, and we have made strides in making our county more attractive to visitors. However there is a train route in place, and twice a day a locomotive carrying what looks like garbage and roofing supplies, chugs through Callicoon. I know there had been big plans a few years back (Train article) to bring the trains back through. However like so many others, they fizzled with little fanfare.

I have done very little research on the history of the train line that ran up the Delaware in the last century. I do know it was the lifeblood, and many of the towns around us would never have existed if it weren't for the train. Callicoon was originally Callicoon Depot, and the entire town sprung up around the station. This link gives a little more info on the history of the train lines.

What would it take to bring a passenger train to Sullivan County? I don’t think it will happen without some sort of government subsidy. Conrail, the owner of the railway that snakes its way up the Delaware from Port Jervis to Hancock, makes its revenue from freight. Commuter or passenger revenue can not compete. A private venture like the one proposed by Mr. Wilson I believe is just to grand of an undertaking for the private sector. No, we need a local elected official to go on a mission. Someone with a little influence who can persuade those that frown on gas drilling and gambling, that perhaps a Sullivan County renaissance is as simple as a once a day commuter train from NYC.

There were eight listings reported sold in the Sullivan County MLS. Click Here for Sold listings

My house of the week is one of the in-town houses that I showedd this weekend. It is pretty big four bedroom completely redone farmhouse on Mill Street, right by the brook in Jeffersonville. It has two cool barns on the property, and it is set underneath a bunch of giant pine trees. The grounds are private despite being in-town, and you hear the constant sound of the brook anytime you are outside. The interior has been done with great attention to detail. It really needs to be seen to be appreciated. The pictures do not do it justice.Recently they have dropped th price to 249K, which I think is a great price. Jeffersonville House

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seller Frustration

So everyone knows how crappy the real estate market is in this country. The media loves doom and gloom, and there is at least one news piece daily that reminds me of this. And despite recent glimmers of hope, it remains in the doldrums, and most experts agree that it will stay that way for some time. It has been discussed ad nauseam, tight banks, nervous buyers, high taxes and gas prices, whatever is the driving force that is keeping things tight, it would appear that it will remain this way for some time. I believe like most things in life, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the more it is discussed and dissected and moaned about, the more it will stay the same.

Since I represent both buyers and sellers, I am seeing it from both sides. Right now I have a handful of listings that are not selling, and despite my best efforts, are continuing to languish. Now this is not an aberration. Less than one in four homes listed on the Sullivan County MLS will sell. That is the cold hard facts of this market. If you list your home today, there is an 80% chance it won’t sell in the next calendar year. Now these stats include the unmotivated, test-the-waters sellers, which although much less than at the peak of the market, still litter our MLS, but it is a sobering fact to bring up during a listing presentation.

So what does this mean to sellers? Your home must not just be a good deal, it has to be head and shoulders above the others. It must have a wow factor that sets it aside from the twenty other homes that a prospective buyer can pick to look at. And even then, this does not guarantee a sale. Every week I call my sellers, and we have discussions of what we can do differently. How can we make this house stand out from the others? For many we are at or close to the bottom for price, a few we have dropped into the short sale category, and all feel frustrated. Their lives are on hold as we search for a buyer. I feel for them, and it is often frustrating to see little to no response on some of these homes that a few years ago would have been snatched up quickly.

At any rate, there is still buying and selling going on. People are still moving, switching jobs, needing more room for growing families, and buying second home getaways. It is the process of how they are doing that which has changed. And who can blame buyers? The landscape is completley different than a few years ago. Buyers can wait, and nibble, and choose carefully. There is very little competition, and multiple offers are a thing of the past. Yes it is a buyers market, no doubt about it.

There were seven single family homes reported sold in the Sullivan County MLS for this week. Click Here

My pick of the week is along the same vein as homes that don't sell. It is an almost 2,000 square foot redone ranch in Narrowsburg. This is a nice home, and although it is on a small lot, it has appeal to both a second and primary home buyer. It just recently expired off the MLS after a year. Original price was $199,000 and they dropped it to $179,000. This is just another example of how just being a good home, priced competitively, isn't necessarily enough to get your home sold. Click Here

Saturday, August 6, 2011

MLS Whoops!

I am a member of two Multiple Listing Services and every morning over coffee I look through all the new listings that have come on the market. I keep tabs on the good ones, and perhaps send a few to various casual buyers that I have, that will buy the right house at the right price.

Most of the listings are presented very professionally. The pictures are all pretty tastefully taken. You can see some time and effort was put into removing clutter and positioning the shot for the best possible view. The description as well is mostly well written, and hits the high points of the house pretty concisely and with little error.

However with all things in life, you get the occasional agent who had a bad day, or just overlooked something. Most are just a misspelled word or two, or a wrong decimal point, but every once in a while you get a gem. I have seen some good ones on our local Multiple Listing Service, but nothing like the list I compiled from various real estate message boards and blogs. Some I think are pretty hilarious.

“Info on Homostead Act” (They never covered this form in my continuing ed.)

All wall damage repaired, butt cracks on surface.” (I hate those)

“Light filled home with strategically located mirrors.” (Boom chicka)

“Bathroom has His and His sinks.” (Understandable given the new Act stated above)

“Sit and enjoy the kitchen fire while Mom cooks.” (Mom attended the Michael Jackson School of Flash Cooking.)

“Yard with kennel and sandbox for the kiddies.” (Who needs a babysitter?)

“New addition with bedroom with French doors and pig roaster.” (Of course pork in the master bedroom)

“Kitchen with Spanish influences and un-permitted large maids quartered.” (Large maids with no permits?)

“Lovely home with new baths with EZ freeway Access.” (When you have to go and then go)

“Seller wants fast sale. Doesn’t like the area.” (But don’t worry you’ll love it.)

"There is also a sunny deck on the 2nd floor that gets a morning to afternoon delight." (I guess technically there is nothing wrong with this, but the twelve year old part of my brain gets a chuckle out of it.)

"Glass Doors Leading To Rear Deck Where You Can Sunbathe Naked and Commune with Nature." (Again I guess nothing wrong, but really?)

Some of my other favorites include a home that has been “remolded”, “motorvated sellers” and a “wreck room”.

And then we have these train wrecks below:

“Back to the market the client not get approval from Lender. For washer and dryer included…elememtary at 2 blocks, 2 duplex, 4 units .proyect will be ready on 4 months . call for details listing agent". (Someone needs to go back to "elememtary" school.)

"Not a short stale, this is a banked own home. IS AS Where As. Please bring all offers and write them on contracts." (What?)

And a picture tells a thousand words:

There were 15 single family home sales reported in the Sullivan MLS. Click Here for Listings
I do not have a pick of the week this week. Again nothing really jumped out at me. We are leaving tomorrow for Lake George for a few days. We're taking little Zach on his first vacation.