I just posted my latest Current Market Conditions report, with sales data for Sullivan County through June 2011. The latest sales data is refreshing. The sales volume for the latest 3 month period is about on par with the same period a year ago, as is the median sales price. The average sales price, though,…Details
Yesterday, when Googling "Sullivan County Real Estate", an Adwords ad caught my attention. "Cozy and Rustic Catskill Mountain Homes for Sale from $279,900. www.chapinescapes.com" Yup, that Chapin, the upscale gated community with lakefront lodge style homes, many of which are upwards of 5,000 sq. ft. and cost into the millions. There are two "Adirondack Cabin"…Details
Ah, how times change. A year ago, I was commenting that buyers I was working with all seemed to be looking for perfect, blemish free houses that were close to magazine ready. A lot of shoppers had unrealistic expectations of perfection, or were naggingly picky. I found myself having to stuff a sock in my…Details
I just posted my latest Market Conditions Report for Sullivan County Real Estate with sales data through May, 2011. Please check it out and then drop on back here to leave a comment about what you see happening in the local market.
I've been selling real estate here for ten years, and maintained this blog for five. Over that time, I've chronicled the shifting trends of what city folks are looking for in a second home or country getaway. There was the interest in shabby chic farmhouses, then a few years when Dwell modern prefabs were all the rage. Authentic lake cottages had their turn, followed by smaller reproduction farmhouses ala Catskill Farms. Post recession, the trend has been to cheap and affordable. Small is in, big is out.
This year there's a new trend, farms or farmettes. Right now my colleagues and I at CBA are working with about a half dozen clients looking for a place where they can "farm". That term is loose, but among these buyers it's more ambitious than just garden. (I'm also fielding another one or two calls a week from folks asking about farms.) These shoppers are typically looking for a place with 10, 20 or even more open, tillable acres that can be cultivated, as well as have space for raising animals like goats or chickens. Some are looking to relocate and make their living from organic agriculture. Others are looking for a starter 'weekend' farm or farmette that they can play with for a while, with the dream of maybe expanding into a full time occupation some time down line.
I spend quite a bit of time talking with these folks, particularly to balance the reality with the romance. The dream of having a farm is admirable, and the growing popularity of the locavore movement will only increase demand for locally produced products. But it's hard work, and even keeping up with a big garden is a huge challenge for weekenders. When someone asks about properties with 10 or 20 workable acres, and they're planning to work those acres part time, I think about my part-timer friends working dawn to dusk on the weekends to keep up with an acre or less of organic gardens.
When I talk to some of these farm shoppers, I get the impression that they want to buy a farm so they can say they own a farm. Having your own farm upstate is probably the ultimate locavore status symbol, and has a lot more punch than just saying that you have a place upstate with a big garden. But for most weekenders, having a big garden is probably more than enough. Cultivate half an acre to an acre with vegetables and herbs, and in August you'll have more than enough zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and beets to haul back to the city to give to appreciative friends and neighbors. Not to mention you'll be canning well into the fall.Details
Ah, this is the life. Pic taken this afternoon at my friend Chuck's pond. My dog, Kumba, is in the middle. The other two are my friend Marci's dogs, Chloe on the left and Duke on the right. In the field beyond the pond is a herd of cows. Pastoral perfection. (Click on pic for…Details
Buyers frequently make assumptions about what they can do with a property, and those assumptions are often not correct. One reason I like to stick close to my clients during showings isn't to pump them with sales hype, but rather to listen to their running dialogue to catch assumptions. My most common utterances during showings aren't "fabulous kitchen" and "killer view", but rather, "Not true", "Not quite", and "Yes, but".
Country property is alien to most city buyers. They don't have the knowledge to necessarily understand what they can or can't do with a property. It can be confusing because they see something that's been done at one house (finishing off a basement, for example) and just assume that it can be done at another house. In many cases, it can. But in some cases it can't. Take that basement. In House A, the basement had a means of egress to the outside, which is necessary in most townships to get a permit to finish a basement. (Or that basement was finished prior to the current egress rules.) The basement in House B may appear similar and very finishable, but lacks an egress to the outside, so wouldn't qualify for finishing into living space under current permit rules.
Here are the 10 most common assumptions I encounter.
1. You can build a second home on the property. The house you're looking at has twenty acres, so there's plenty of room to build a second house for your parents, right? Not. Most townships now only permit one house per single tax parcel, whether that parcel is 1 acre or 100 acres. To build a second house, you'd need to subdivide off a parcel for that house, and each parcel would need to meet township subdivision requirements. A guest house is often permitted, but it can't be a full home with a kitchen.
2. When you buy land, you can camp on it. Maybe in Montana, but not here. Townships frown on using land for camping or to park a travel trailer or to erect a temporary or seasonal structure like a yurt. There are some parcels zoned 'recreational' where these uses are grandfathered in, but they're pretty rare, and most townships now prohibit recreational/camping use on property that hasn't had that as a previous use.
3. You can put up one of those cute mini prefabs you saw in Dwell and have a cheap little getaway in the country. This is a "you probably can, but" issue. First, any prefab home, whether it's a 400 sq. ft. minihome or 4,000 sq. ft. modern multi-box, has to meet NY state building codes. The NY building code is one of the toughest in the nation, particularly regarding insulation and snow load. Many of the hip modern prefabs are designed for warmer, less snowy climes and can't be erected here. Also, you need to factor in infrastructure costs for well, septic and utilities, which can run $30,000 or more.
4. You can always subdivide a large acreage parcel. Generally yes, but not always. Most townships require minimum road frontage (and acreage size) for subdivided parcels. A 10 acre parcel with 400 frontage feet on the road might be easily subdividable, while a 100 acre parcel with only 100 frontage feet might not. Likewise, parcels with only right of way access (rather than direct road frontage) might not be subdividable at all. There are a number of other factors that can also come into play.
5. You can just put in a pond. Good ponds require springs. Runoff ponds (without a spring feed) tend to dry up in late summer. So never assume that because there's a nice open area below the house that you can just excavate out a good pond.
(Continue to assumptions 6 to 10.)Details
On Tuesday, Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Dept. of the Interior, announced that the department was rescinding a Bush-era rule that prohibited off-reservation casinos that were far from a tribe's reservation. That rule, adopted in 2008, has largely kept casino plans from moving forward here in Sullivan County. Rescinding the…Details
A few readers have asked about my thoughts on the latest racino/casino plans announced for the former Concord Hotel site in Kiamesha Lake. Well, you almost need a Racing Form to keep track of the players and handicap this race. Right now, if I were a betting man, I'd keep my two bucks in my…Details
The World Fishing Network has named Roscoe with as its 2011 "Ultimate Fishing Town USA". 300 towns were nominated, and then whittled down to 20 to compete for votes to get the title. Roscoe edged out 2nd place Waddington, NY. Read the WFN release here, including a list of the top 20 finishers. The support…Details
The clock is ticking on Gov. Cuomo's plan to get a 2% property tax cap through the current legislature. Special interests, paricularly the teachers' unions, are in high gear to squash it. But there's a chance it will squeak through. I'm in total support of it, and here's why. Property taxes in New York state,…Details
Passing this along from Catskills Citizens for Safe Energy … Film, Music & A Dessert Potluck, Saturday, June 4th 6:30 p.m. at the Delaware Youth Center, 8 Creamery Road, Callicoon NY 12723 Join us for a screening of the movie Frack!, live music by Marc Black, and a premiere of a new music video by…Details
Most second home buyers I’ve been working with recently have been shopping at more moderate price points, from $150,000 to $300,000 or so. But I have a few clients looking in a somewhat higher range, and have been reacquainting myself with that inventory. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a number of the properties on the…Details
Cute, cute, cute. That's the new Eureka Market and Cafe just west of Grahamsville on Route 55. (7991 SR 55, Grahamsville.) Proprietor Jennifer Grimes has opened a sweet little spot with a nice selection of grocery items (including organic produce and bread and baked goods from Flour Power Bakery and Beach Lake Bread), and a…Details
Phish is on the boards at Bethel Woods for 3 days over Memorial Day weekend, with concerts scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (For those of you my age — 50+ — who might not be familiar with Phish, they're the "Grateful Dead' band phenomenon of a younger generation, with hordes of fans following them…Details
Hey, folks, I just posted my latest Current Market Conditions Report with Sullivan County sales data through April, 2011. Not such a bad picture this month. Volume is holding (albeit at pretty low levels), and didn’t slip. Prices ticked up a bit from last month, but that could be more reflective of seasonality, after the…Details
There aren't a lot of great coffee stops in Sullivan, so the recently opened Java Love Coffee Roasters in Kauneonga Lake is a very welcome addition to the bean and brew scene. Locally roasted in small batches, the coffee is wonderful! Stop in and say hello. Located across from the Fat Lady Cafe in Kauneonga…Details
40 lucky diners will enjoy a local farm-to-table 4 course dinner with wine to benefit WJFF, with food and wine provided by local purveyors. The dinner is June 4th, 7PM at Hill's Country Inn in Callicoon Center. $60 per person. Advance reservations. 845-482-4141. (Reservations are probably essential, as there are only 40 seats). More information.
Tickets go on sale Monday, May 23, 10AM. More info at http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/bwevents/eventdetail.aspx?id=210