The years leading up to the 'Great Recession' was a time of pretty extravagant spending fed by unbridled optimism, particularly in real estate. Like many areas of the country, there was a building boom here in Sullivan County that hadn't been seen in decades. Most of that new construction was at the moderate end, but there was also surge in upper end building.
Upper end buyers bought land here and embarked on designing and building their dream vacation homes, often sparing no expense. Extravagant building wasn't just limited to high end communities like the Chapin Estate, but popped up across the region. Many of these homes were large, upwards of 3,500 sq. ft., with fine craftsmanship and elaborate detailing — including massive stone fireplaces, showcase kitchens, reclaimed wood floors, custom staircases, bluestone patios and master baths larger than some apartments in Manhattan.
Unfortunately (for the owners), the post-recession market hasn't been kind to these upper end houses. Here in Sullivan County, as in much of the upstate second home areas outside of some of the brand name locales in the Hudson Valley, the upper end market has been thin. In 2013, thre were only 2 home sales recorded here above $1,000,000. In neighboring Ulster County, which is typically pricier and includes the villages of Woodstock, New Paltz and Stone Ridge, there were only 12, according to a search of sales in the Realist property record system. (East of the Hudson River is a different story, with 42 sales above $1M in Dutchess and Columbia counties in 2013.)
So what does this mean for buyers? The bottom line? Some bargains. A number of these more extravagant new builds from the early to mid 00's have come to market in the past year or two, and are usually priced below, and sometimes well below, their replacement cost. Top end construction today can range upwards from $300 per square foot, and even good mid range is in the $200's, and those 'extras' like inground pools with stone patios can push over $100,000. In the past year, I've seen some of these houses priced at 25% to as much as 40% off of their replacement costs.
For buyers with a budget in the $500,000 to $1.5M range, this is the deal part of the market here. It's pretty amazing what you can get for $1M here. Is their risk? Yes. Sullivan County doesn't have the same blue ribbon bona fides as places like Dutchess County, the Berkshires or Litchfield County in Connecticut. Upper end demand is thinner here, and properties at $1M and above are less liquid. But right now, there's a window of opportunity to pick up something pretty great in Sullivan County at a fraction of what something similar would cost elsewhere.