Monday, March 31, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

It's time to "monitor and adjust." I realized last week that while homes may sell, the people who input the closings may not do so for a while, so it's better to look at closings from a year's point of view.

This year since the first of January I see 13 closings for Skaneateles as published through the multiple listing service. There were 7 in January, 3 each in February and March. Of these, 6 were village homes, 3 were waterfront (even in the winter!). A couple were technically not in Skaneateles, but listed in the area because of the lake. Prices ranged from $117,900 to $825,000. Generally, the sale price was about 7% to 10% off the list price.

This last fact is difficult to generalize. Several homes have gone through cycles of listings, starting at a higher price and coming down as Realtors changed, as time went on and the homes became "shelf worn." The 10% figure might not be accurate in these cases from the initial pricing, just as the house which sells within the first day at a fire sale price does not accurately reflect what is happening.

Last week I forgot to publish the average price for a home in Skaneateles, which was $558,000 according to the paper. In reference to this week's number - $549,300 - the difference is minimal. Both are well above last year's average of $484,800. Not too many communities outside of central New York are able to boast an increase of over 11%!

Currently there are 94 active single family homes listed in the Skaneateles area. The lowest price is $114,900 and the waterfront on the west side remains the highest at about 3.5M, although there is a second one on the east side which is nudging it.

What to take away from this? Skaneateles is still a good investment!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Declutterization - Part One

Over and over I am asked what is the best thing to do to sell a home. I'm on my way to just such an appointment this afternoon, and the answer will be what it always is - get rid of "stuff."

Early on in my career I showed a house owned by an older couple who were down-sizing. Their home was filled with a lifetime of memories and just plain stuff. It wasn't just all over, but was boxed and on shelves, the workshop organized with every tool imaginable, and the house what my clients wanted. They expressed the opinion that the older couple would never move.

"Of course they will," I insisted. "Everything will go - you can even write it into the contract that by walk-through it will be gone."

"No," they said, and we looked at other homes and bought something else.

To my knowledge, they were right. The home of the older couple never did sell! The family took it off the market and it sits to this day, filled with stuff, I imagine.

My mother's house was the same. She knew she had to move and the moving date was scheduled for July, so in January she started filling boxes with a younger woman who came to help her once a week. They worked full days, sorting and throwing out, enjoying memories and filling boxes that eventually came to be stacked in the living room and walked around for months. Moving day came. We took out all the boxes - and the house was still filled with stuff. Every closet was still packed, the attic was still full - and now we had the boxes, too!

Over the summer she and my son, Alex, spent long days in the attic again sorting and boxing and letting go, supposedly. They would nod off in the heat, waking to work some more. We brought those boxes to our house, too. And the broken spinning wheel, the doll's house, the books and photos of someone's relatives.

I went back myself and got the clothes out. Yes, I saved her suede jacket that I remember from my childhood. All the muffin tins, loaf pans and cookie cutters came too. Besides the clothes, I had trouble throwing things out, too. My long-suffering husband sighed and built shelves in the basement and the garage.

"Your family never throws anything out!" he grumbled.

Over the years my mother lived with us she would go through a box a week, handing things to him with the exhortation of "Find a good place for this, would you, please?" If he got it past me, it went in the garbage. Of course one Christmas my mother asked for her cookie press and we assumed he had thrown it out, so we surreptitiously went out and bought a new one. After she passed on, we found the old one - and another two!

My birthmother's family gave me the opportunity to bring all her things to my house when she passed on, too. This was 1993, and I was still living in Skaneateles in a small cottage. Her belongings from her two bedroom apartment (and multiple storage units) in Binghamton overwhelmed our home for months. Alex and I walked around boxes ourselves, not having met Bob-the-shelfbuilder yet. For years afterwards I had mini panic attacks whenever I entered a dollar store.

So now you can guess the state of our house. My son seems not to have inherited the family penchant for stuff. He still has a closet here but it's half-filled. His tiny Manhattan apartment can't hold any. But despite many, many garage sales and e-bay sales after my mother passed away two years ago we are still overrun by stuff.

I had clients two years ago who told me quite seriously that they have decided not to accumulate stuff. They were just starting out, and they said they watched their parents take load after load to the dump in their 60s of things they had kept and moived with for over 40 years. They were determined not to do that, so in their own cross-country move they would weed out what was important and what not. I remember thinking how smart they are! (Of course two years later they tell me they didn't do it and thank goodness they bought a large house for all their stuff!)

Point is - we have stuff, you probably have stuff - and now what do we do about it?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Then and Now

Then it was past eight o'clock in Manlius, east of Syracuse, when I finished showing houses to my out-of-town clients. We were exhausted, having gone strong since 3:00. They went off for an evening of good food in a local restaurant and a long discussion of the possibilities we had seen. Great choices, but a difficult decision lay ahead.

I headed for home, knowing there would be dinner on the table (thank you Bob!), a warm bottle of Ithaca Nut Brown Ale, a cozy fire and NCAA basketball games to watch. The rain started to mix with snow as I flew past Wegman's in Fayetteville onto a scary 690. Lanes blurred and I wanted a distraction. NPR was hosting a discussion of ants and their habitats. That wasn't it. I turned to AM radio and found the West Virginia/Xavier game in progress. It had been a long time since I'd listened to a game on the radio, but it was most welcome.

At the breaks I heard commercials - local and national. RE/MAX apparently through Westwood One is a sponsor of the NCAA Tournament. I thought how apropos it was - my weary self being brought home to the sound of a RE/MAX commercial. But how true it was, too. "RE/MAX agents sell more homes per average than any other company." We do!

Now I'm in the office, finishing up before grabbing dinner from Doug's next door and running home for the 7:00 game tonight. After starting again at 9:00 this morning in the unexpected snow, the couple decided on a new home - hooray! Agents needed to be notified that despite their best efforts their homes weren't chosen. My family coming in from Florida tomorrow were just starting the process and I was also here to write their itinerary and make last minute adjustments. A latte from Vermont Coffee fortified me and as I typed from my desk in the front of the office I watched a pair of ducks waddling down the sidewalk on their way to the lake. Looking for a new home for their family, no doubt! I wish them well, and look forward to seeing their ducklings in the spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Unusual Homes

Last Saturday an article on the "Space House" caught my eye. The title was "Drop in housing market brings Space House price out of orbit." It was sold at auction in Chattanooga, Tennessee for $135,000. It looks like a flying saucer, complete with a retractable staircase.

We have a few different homes in our neck of the woods. Way out overlooking Otisco Lake somewhere is a tree house. The owner wanted to live in one and found an architect to design and build it. To my knowledge, it still exists.

Then there's the geodosic dome just outside Amber on the east side of the lake. It was on the market a few years ago and one of my clients put in an offer. It was eerie - if I said something in a whisper in one part of the house the sound bounced to another. I still liked it - quite rustic and on a great piece of land. The trees had closed in on it over the years - you wouldn't know it was there from the road. It sold for around $90,000, if I remember correctly.

I'm about to leave to look at absolutely beautiful homes - four/five bedrooms, three full baths (at least), granite and cherry kitchens, new construction for the most part, and acre lots "in a park-like setting." I know that I would prefer these houses in the long run (not that I'm buying!) but I am still tugged back to the odd ones. As I sit here, I try to think what I would build, if I could, that would be different. I'll have to think about that for a while.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Listings continue to increase with the coming of spring. We now have 94 single family residences on the market. About 77 of these are actual homes, and the other 17 are "to be builts" placed by the builders' agents to show what could be placed on their lots. A good sign of the coming warm weather is that 2 of the new listings are waterfront. Soon we'll be basking by the water!

There were no closings or contingent contracts filed this week. As I went through the hotsheet last week I saw a closing in Skaneateles and was excited, knowing it would show up in this blog. Unfortunately - or not - it was a home I'd sold and closed on back in February. The agent's company just closed it out on the exchange. But still - it's a closing!

Adding to the listings this week were condos, 10 of them in the Seitz Building at the corner of Jordan and Genesee Streets. These have 1 or 2 bedrooms, with great views, and retail in the 500K range. There are three others on the market, also - 2 for $289,900 and a waterfront two level for $1,600,000. Condos are relatively new to Skaneateles but the success of the Thayer House on Genesee Street has encouraged others to try this form of ownership. There's also a tax advantage, but that's a further discussion.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Coincidence? I Think Not!

Story #1

One of my clients told me an odd story recently. He had been looking for a home with me for a time, and really liked one we had seen. He was still uncertain so he didn't move on it - there were some drawbacks to it as well, major drawbacks.

He went to a conference on the west coast and was approached by a woman who recognized the company's name for which he worked. They got into conversation and she said she was from Utica, but lived east of Syracuse because she enjoyed the area so much. My client related his search for a home and as it turned out she lived in the same area in which this home he liked was located. Not only that, she had seen the home when she was searching too and considered it as well.

She encouraged my client - and bear in mind, these are two people who are meeting on the west coast (where presumably it's warm and springlike) talking about a specific house east of Syracuse - to pursue the home and work on the major drawbacks. We are doing that right now! Coincidence? I think not!

Story #2

I took a listing recently and as the talk turned to past lives I explored with the owner where our paths might have crossed. I told him that when I graduated I applied for a certain position in a school district but decided not to pursue it after they called me for an interview. I didn't have teacher certification and wasn't ready to be locked into a career path.

My owner as it turns out, was offered the position and took it, only retiring a few years ago! We believe it was the exact same job, and wonder how our lives would be different if I had taken it and he had gone on to something else. Coincidence? I think not!

Story #3

As many of my loyal readers know, I was adopted. In 1992 I was privileged to meet and come to know my birthmother. She lived in Binghamton but had grown up in Pennsylvania. Prior to my adoption at 11 months I was in foster care in Marcellus. I only mention this because there was no connection with central New York except that for her.

She passed away in April the following year. I was allowed to go through her belongings - we shared packratting in our genes, I think - and her photos. None in albums, just singles in drawers and boxes, very few with notations. But there among the photos was a lovely one of her standing on the pier in Skaneateles, St. James church in the background. I could tell that the photo was taken in the previous five years when I might have been on the same pier with her. Coincidence? I think not!

As one of the speakers at the RE/MAX convention so eloquently put it: "Coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blogging in Skaneateles

Last Saturday Chris Briel from Skaneateles Design hosted a "How to Blog" seminar at Creekside. She came up with the idea only on Wednesday, but Saturday morning at 9:30 ten people showed up to learn about blogging. There is interest!

Chris was great. She had thought ahead to provide us all with sheets on how to get started on Skaneateles Talk ( Three other Realtors came to learn, as did shop owners and private business people. She took us through the whys and hows and gave some great tips.

Curt Feldmann from Skaneateles Suites ( contributed to the discussion as well. He and Chris have been sharing information for a while now, pumping each other's websites up and taking the lead to put Skaneateles on the map. He says that we are all there for the common purpose - promoting our wonderful village and lake. Curt's efforts are netting him more than 1,000 hits each and every day!

I suggested to Chris that we do another session with more notice, possibly put out a press release or get it on Erika's Creekside newsletter. From this small meeting you can see on Skaneateles Talk that others have recently joined and new blogs are being posted. Check it out!

If you're interested in joining a session, or sponsoring one for your own business, Chris can be reached via or through her website:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Sure Sign of Spring

After touring quite a grand new listing on broker's open today - the only one this week - I went into the office to go through my mail and leave notes for other agents. As I left, I ran into an old friend who spends a great deal of the winter (and some of the summer) in South Carolina. Although he'd hate to be called a "snowbird," his return did herald spring.

As we stood and talked on the sidewalk outside Doug's, our discussion turned to real estate - surprise! He told me that last year his investment group purchased over 1.5 million in Syracuse. This represents about 15 houses. They are currently waiting for the banks to give them a go ahead for another round, but he states that it's slow.

"Everyone's being careful," he said. "We have a lot borrowed out there and they don't want to take risks."

He asked about Skaneateles and I told him. He reiterated the "everyone's being careful" comment, then reminded me that he had a great waterfront parcel quietly for sale. I in turn pitched him my multi-unit, and we both laughed.

"There are some good deals out there!" he said in parting.

There are indeed! Now is the time to scoop them up!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Last week I established the criteria for what would be considered in my weekly update. I want to add one other category, something that admittedly is published every Sunday morning in the real estate section of the Post Standard, but a fact that is important for context purposes. And since not everyone ("no, really?!") reads the Sunday P-S, then publishing it here makes some sense.

This number is the average price of a home in Skaneateles, currently $562,500. Last year at this time the average price was $473,800. Wow!

I remember when I first started real estate almost 7 years ago. The number then was around $200,000. Skaneateles' prices have increased, but not the crazy percentages that are seen elsewhere and have caused the housing crises in other parts of the country.

Another point about this number: the nearest competitor is the Town of Pompey, surprisingly enough, with their entry of $243,500. Skaneateles is influenced by waterfront homes, while Pompey has large homes, generally quite new, on large pieces of land.

On to the update! There are currently 90 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Seven new listings were added this week, all between $449,000 and $579,000.

There were no listings that went to contract (contingency) and only 1 closed, a house on Jordan Road for $125,000.

"Nothing is moving," people say. But the rates are still fairly low, people will want to buy to get in before summer, and we'll see what happens when more waterfront properties come on the market in the next few weeks!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Response to a Comment

On my last blog, a young reader wrote in to ask about the most expensive home sold in this area in the past five years. I published the comment, and now I'd like to answer this most intelligent question. And parenthetically, I hadn't thought of using the blog this way but this is great!

The most expensive house that came to mind immediately was 45 West Lake Street, and indeed after checking with the multiple listing service it was, by far. There may have been private sales, but this is the one on record with the service.

It truly is an incredible house. Within easy reach of Genesee Street, with a view over the water of the village, and over 7800 square feet of newly renovated space on 1.8 acres it is worthy of "most expensive home in the area" status. The deciding factor was, in my opinion, 422 feet of waterfront, the most, I believe, within the village.

I remember going to the broker's open and just falling in love. I had seen it before it was renovated and thought it was a lovely space, but the revamping of space and all the artful additions made it irresistible. The third floor had been totally changed into an Adirondack-like haven.

A lovely, lovely home; it sold for $4,900,000.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Home Show

What a great afternoon! My husband and I went to the Home Show at the Fairgrounds to check out the setting for his presentation for Purcell Paints tomorrow. (This is an unsolicited plug, BTW - he, Bob Chestnut, will demonstrate painting with metallic paints and then woodgraining. Show times are 11:00 and 12:00 in the Toyota Building. Meanwhile of course I'll be doing the open house on West Elizabeth Street, a self-solicited plug.)

We had a good time, running into many people we knew who were interested in the latest trends in painting. Rakel showed her skill in first Venetian plaster techniques and then marblizing, transforming a wooden column into seemingly a black marble stand in less than an hour. She was followed by Heather who packed them in for her Skimstones exhibition. This is what I would call concrete painting, using a paint/powder that hardens and can be used for flooring or countertops. We saw it out west and it was a tremendous effect, like having a carpet embedded into the floor. Paints came from the Modern Masters series (, courtesy of Purcell Paints (

We also ran into Mike Jandolenko, a friend and contractor from Skaneateles. He told us that he loves doing the Home Show, that he can almost book enough business to keep him going all year. Although he does everything, he told us he'd like to concentrate on finishing basements. His price is very good and he has excellent references. He can be reached through

I also saw Mark Harrington manning his own booth for Harrington Homes. He's quite well-known in the area and has built for the Parade of Homes for years, I believe. I thought it was interesting that he would be there himself, despite how large a company he runs. His website is

The Home Show runs through Sunday and is fun even if you're not remodeling. There were entire two story buildings constructed on site and the emphasis this year seemed to be on those patio stones that create instant walls and walkways. Several had built-in fireplaces or huge grills. It helped me remember that summer is only a couple (or so) months away!

Friday, March 14, 2008

This and That

This Saturday, as in tomorrow, Chris Briel ( will talk about blogging at Creekside, starting at 9:30. She got the idea when I asked her for some help which she readily offered. She sent out an e-mail or many, and got some good response so we'll be there somewhere in the coffeehouse. It's open to everyone who wants to come. Please join us!

That scandal resulting in our resigned governor was discovered because he moved money around suspiciously. Years ago I sold a house to a man from California. He wired over the money, and the attorneys and I sat in a room to finalize the deal and close the sale. The only problem was the money was stopped en route. The federal government under the Patriot Act thought it was suspicious because the name of the road was "Burma," as in the country. Our deal almost fell apart because of deadlines!

This Sunday is my open house featuring the gold coins which I bought today. I like to have fun, present something interesting at my opens so people will come. It challenges me, too. I think if the home has good energy then it will be more likely to sell. I always have refreshments and some kind of theme. Look for green balloons on West Elizabeth Street if you come!

That blog from yesterday about our Hermes - he's doing fine with new meds!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homage to Hermes

Our old Himalayan, Hermes, is going to see Doc Schnabel tomorrow at the Weedsport Animal Hospital. He has a horrendous cold that is getting worse it seems. He's lost a lot of weight, and we are very concerned. Whether he has a week or a year, he is closing in on the end of his life and I want to somehow memorialize that life.

I came home early today to sit by the fire and read while he slept on a piece of paper on the floor. He's chosen - as is his wont - to do his own thing, which is to sit on my husband's chair in his workshop instead. That is the essence of Hermes - he has his own personality and will do what he wants, even more so than most cats.

My son and I gave him to my mother Christmas of 1992. She had insisted on no more animals because she wouldn't be around to take care of them, she said. (She lived another 14 years, protesting that every day was her last.) We brought him over to her house in Syracuse in a basket and let him find his way out. It took him a couple hours while we waited breathlessly for his appearance.

He was a shy cat, rarely seen. Once someone came and he shot out of the living room, forgetting that the door was shut. He burst through a glass panel in the French doors, with his hard head seeming not the worse for wear. Still, he hated having his head touched but my mother insisted that trait existed before he slammed into the glass.

She took him outside, but only on a leash. He was so beautiful she thought someone might steal him. He was lovely - a perfect flamepoint Himalayan whose eyes glowed red in reflected light at night. "The Lion," a friend dubbed him.

He was so shy (how shy was he?) my husband saw him only once before we were married, despite spending a great deal of time at my mother's getting her ready for the move to the country. Once here, Hermes blossomed. He was allowed outside alone and skulked after one of our other cats. He spent the day going in and out. My mother would barely get back to the couch with her rollator when he would want in again. Good exercise.

Once my mother passed away, Hermes became a social butterfly. He joined the other cats by day and enjoyed being with people. He often sat on my old computer monitor when I typed, having climbed over the keyboard first. If you fell asleep in his presence, he would gently paw your face to wake up and talk to him. He liked to talk at people, and seemed to listen. My son said you could watch him all day and never grow bored.

One of my favorite memories is seeing him sit out a ways with my mother and her little dog on a park bench under the trees in the spring and summer. The three of them would mosey out there with a book and just sit complacently together in the late afternoon sun, three old codgers enjoying each others' company.

Like all our animals, and our friends' animals, he will be missed but remembered with great love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Creative Marketing

I have to admit that one thing I didn't find at the RE/MAX Convention was a great deal of out of the box marketing ideas. I didn't take a lot of classes, but they weren't aimed at this anyway.

A couple years ago I listed a beautiful home here in Skaneateles that took a while to sell. It was in the high 600s, so we were prepared for a lengthy marketing experience, should we say. It was just when the market seemed to be turning, and we were reading about the extraordinary measures some agents were taking to make their homes more enticing. "Give people an incentive, and they will respond," said one of the RE/MAX presenters. So we did.

We (the owners and I) offered round trip tickets to Europe or beyond, imported ornamental balls, a monetary incentive to the agent who would sell it, and a list of other smaller goodies. The story was picked up by the Post Standard and there we were - above the fold on the front page! We were invited on to a local afternoon talk show to speak about the listing and for a few days we were quite the item. "You can't buy this type of advertising!" most people said. The house did sell, although not until we reduced the price and removed the incentives. Not my buyers - and I still wonder if they had seen the listing or were told about it, just were not able to act until later in the year.

Another time I thought that some land I was selling might have lake rights, and advertised the possibility. The land was cheap - $25,000 - and the ad ended up next to another bit of lake property selling in the millions. A reporter picked up the story and there was my owner's picture in the paper, sure enough! It still hasn't sold and we can't find that it has lake rights, but if you're interested.....

Several years ago I had an open house around St. Patrick's Day and gave everyone a gold coin worth $10,000 off the price of the house. Everyone laughed and thought it was great fun. Again, the house didn't sell that day but I am sure the gold coins were passed around and a "buzz" had been created.

So here we are again, and yes, it will be St. Patrick's Day on Monday and yes, I have an open house on Sunday and bygorrah, the Irish owners have agreed to the gold coin! Come to my open house between 12:00 and 2:00 at 51 West Elizabeth Street here in the village and pick up a gold coin. You never know! (The home and details can be seen on just type in 13152 or Skaneateles and it should be the second one to come up, #187353. ) Tell me you came because you read my blog and I will be thrilled!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RE/MAX Convention Inspiration

A bit of background: I've always had a fairly firm grounding in what I believe psychologically. I think people respond to the world because of what they think about it. Simply put, if you think things will turn out well they generally do. Norman Vincent Peale was perhaps the greatest advocate of this school - the power of positive thinking.

As a student I was inculcated in B.F. Skinner's methodology. He literally funded the labs at Mount Holyoke and we learned Skinnerian thought. It made sense as far as it went, but there seemed to be more. My pigeon learned rapidly to peck at the stimulus, but I had to think he was getting fairly tired of "learning" by my Friday lab.

In grad school at Ohio U I was introduced to Albert Ellis and Rational-Emotive Therapy. That made sense. The client worked on things that needed to be done, and thought produced emotions that produced positive feelings.

Entering real estate I was introduced through Gallinger to Maralyn Schwartz. She gave a lengthy class - over the course of months - in simply getting out there and talking to people. "Just do it!" You get out of life as much as you put into it; the harder you work the more you gain. Real estate is like that - the ebb and flow is for the most part a factor of your work ethic (and a few minor things like being efficient and communicative, but that's part of the ethic of hard work, so....)

Back to the convention. RE/MAX brought in three major speakers: Brian Buffini, Marcus Buckingham, and Les Brown. Buffini spoke about working hard. "Not enough hours in the day? Get up earlier!" Marcus Buckingham talked about positive psychology. It's a new exploration into emphasizing strengths over weaknesses. You won't change the bad stuff, but channel the good stuff into positive traits. Can't stand to lose? You are competitive and will persist when others drop off.

Les Brown spoke the most to me. He is the author of the phrase "Shoot for the moon because if you miss you will land among the stars." He idolized Dr. Peale, having heard him as a very young man who was labeled educably retarded. He chose not to be, and now lectures to the world. He talked about our privilege to be alive and not wasting it, a theme I repeat often. I look forward to hearing him again - it's a message I could hear over and over. (Check out his website: He has a 60 minute free message he's sending out tonight....)

It's energizing, all of it. Not just to get going with real estate, but with life itself. To not leave anything on the table, to jump out of bed each day with renewed vigor.

"Let us then be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate,

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait."

Monday, March 10, 2008

The RE/MAX International Convention

Back to the convention....

The opening session told the story of the RE/MAX co-founders. I knew it, of course, but just hearing it again and seeing them out there on the stage reminded me of what an incredible accomplishment and organization RE/MAX truly is. It was started in 1973 - the year I graduated - and has grown to be THE largest real estate company in the world.

From the ideas of four people working together to improve the lives of agents and give them more control over their businesses, there are now offices in 68 countries around the world. Fifty-five of those countries - over 2,000 agents or brokers from outside the United States - were represented. Awards went to Canadians and Texans, Austrians and South Africans. And those four people were still involved in the company.

The session also had plenty of Vegas glitz with dancers and costumes and sets depicting the different decades. Commercials were shown from the eras. One showed Prudential and Coldwell Banker buried in the graveyard. Another brought me to tears with a simple contemporary commercial of a young woman with a baby saying that when her husband came home they would buy their first house. The scene changes to him in Iraq, checking for listings.

There was entertainment, too. Last summer we happened to catch one episode of America's Got Talent, a summer American Idol knock-off. I only remembered the ventriloquist - and by golly he apparently won the million dollar prize and was now appearing at the RE/MAX opening session!

He was incredible - last summer and in person. His singing was amazing, and added to that he was also a ventriloquist...?! The most fun was when he dressed up one of the higher-ups, a very tall man, as Cher and then with a mask manipulated the mouth. Then he became Sonny and I swear he produced chords at the close of their duet - How did he do that?

His name is Terry Fator and if you check his website - - you will see he is much in demand. (There's a link there to YouTube, also.) And well worth it - I haven't laughed so hard in a long, long time!

He ended his spot singing with his turtle imitating Ray Charles' "What a Wonderful World." It was a reflective moment, and as silence fell I could tell the audience in the MGM Grand Arena felt it also.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Here we go! I want to use one blog a week, early in the week, to try to sort through the real estate market here in Skaneateles. I'll start with interesting facts I can glean from the multiple listing service and add a note here and there. I would love to hear what else you, my readers, would be interested in learning about. Hopefully this will be a way to track the market for insiders and a way to learn about it for others outside the area. Frankly, it will be a great tool for me to actually analyze trends on a weekly basis.

Number of listings currently listed as Active in the system for Skaneateles: 86
Number of homes that were sold last week, as evidenced by a Contingent ("K") status change: 0
Number of homes Closed last week: 1

Oh my! Maybe the news will get better from the past month, I thought.

Number of homes sold (contingent) within 30 days: 0
Number of homes sold (contingent) within 60 days: 4

Number of homes closed within 30 days: 3 (includes the 1...)
Number of homes closed within 60 days: 9 (includes the 3...)

The market is slow but spring is coming! It's getting on towards 6:00 PM and the sky is blue and the sun is brilliant.....

A brief overview of the homes for sale:

The lowest priced home is a mobile home listed at $89,000. It has a great yard and almost an acre of land; it even has a basement!

The highest priced home is waterfront property on the west side. The home is immaculate, the kitchen incredible, the setting private. Offered at $3,495,000.

There are 13 homes listed under $200,000 and 17 homes over $1,000,000. It's only been the last few years that the million dollar plus properties have appeared.

There are currently 21 lakefront properties for sale. They range in price from $279,900 (about 600 sf with an outhouse, just down the road from the highest priced one, BTW...) to the above-described property. Just to note - in our market, if the property is in a different town or even county but on the lake or in the school district it is listed as Skaneateles.

What else do you want to know? I would like to keep the update as simple as possible, but there's room for further exploration. Please let me know!

Blogging at the Convention

We came in a day early specifically for the blogging class. It was SRO - I found a place on the side where I could sit fairly comfortably and still catch a glimpse now and then of the presenters. I say SRO - the room held over 1,000 people!

The people around me were novices and so I felt quite proud of myself. They had heard of blogging, but it seemed too foreign to them still. Kind of like me back in April....

The panel consisted of Linda Davis from eastern Connecticut and Duncan Fremlin from Toronto, both RE/MAX agents of longstanding. Each has been blogging well over a year but they approached it differently. Linda spends a couple hours a day (when she said this a collective groan went up from the audience) and works apparently several blogs. She has reached the point where people e-mail her when something happens in her area. She used the example of a modular home falling off a truck on one of the major highways; she got four e-mails on that!

Duncan , she says, is a better natural writer. He said he spends about fifteen minutes a day just cataloging what he does. He has earned great praise for his charity work, and his blog reflects that. He sees blogging as a communications tool where Linda uses it for listing and selling purposes primarily. Both agree that it's an incredible way to introduce yourself to the public. Just as in creative writing, you show, not tell, who you are.

I felt a greater affinity with Duncan. He said that he had originally started blogging with well-crafted essays that he wrote and re-wrote. As he moved into his voice, he realized that just talking and writing worked best for him. The polish would be there without the extra effort and it was more fun.

When he said that I felt freed. I could just write. I remember getting my first computer back in 1993 and discovering that I could write as fast as I could think. The laboriousness of typing or writing longhand was gone. I felt liberated and began writing and writing just because I could. I had that same "aha!" moment at the conference.

I also got ideas upon ideas from this short class. Only an hour, but what to blog became apparent. Nothing momentous, just a sense of what my subject matter could be, and will be in the following weeks and months. Hang on for the ride!

Check them out:
Linda Davis' blog: or
Duncan Fremlin's blog:

What I Read When I'm Traveling

Somehow a tradition has started up. Whether it's to stay connected with Skaneateles or just to find a book in an airport written by someone I know, I can't remember. But I read Skaneateles authors when I'm traveling.

I had started a book, Stump City by Mike Quigley, before I left. It's a great autobiography about an area of the town I didn't know existed. Stump City is located behind the Jordan Road Welch Allyn plant, a small group of houses that held huge families in the 50s and 60s.

Mike chronicles it all. From his parents' meeting in England to their raising 7 children in a 2 bedroom home, his schooldays with successes and failures abounding, he writes simply about the joys and heartaches. A good read - and I think an important one for Skaneateles people and newcomers to read. It wasn't - and still isn't - an affluent community for all who live here.

Tim Green is usually who I pick up. He provides an interesting, fast-paced thriller perfect for planes and sun-sitting. This time I read Kingdom Come, his unabashed portrayal of the fictional King family based on the real Congel family, the movers and shakers behind the Destiny project who also live in Skaneateles, as does Mr. Green. Frankly, I am still slogging through it even though I'm home and sitting in front of the fire instead of in the sun at the pool of the MGM Grand.

Although Kingdom Come didn't work for me, I highly recommend The Fourth Perimeter, his novel about a vacationing president. He uses Skaneateles as the setting - the lake, the village, the roads - and while that is fun in itself, the story is great. I went right through that one and bought it for relocating clients.

Both of these books are available at Creekside, our wonderful coffee house and bookstore in the village on Fennel Street. You can order them through their website, too: Tim Green's website is and Mike's book can be found at But hurry for the latter - I bought the last one at Creekside!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-jog...

Please forgive my mother's saying every time we returned from a trip. We took the red-eye from Las Vegas last night and sleeping sitting up has never been my forte.

Vegas was the site of the RE/MAX convention this year, the international RE/MAX convention. I am not a convention-goer; the last one I attended was for charter schools in 1999 in Denver. I decided to go to this one because of the motivational speakers and the temperatures in the high 60s. I admit it - I love the sun and there was plenty of it.

I also believe that it is necessary to take time away and get perspective. I usually do that on my own, but I must tell you that after three days of incredible speakers - really, world-renowned - I am fired up and ready to go (to borrow a phrase from those ever-energetic candidates.) The fires are lit under me personally and professionally. And beware! The first class I took was about blogging and it generated ideas and ideas which I will put into action in the next weeks and months.

Until I get some sleep I won't start. I did want to add this one note: returning to the Syracuse airport we went to get our baggage. There on the wall was a huge fall photo of the west side of Skaneateles Lake by John Francis McCarthy. It reminded me that on our way out we had passed over the Finger Lakes at sunset - we could see from Otisco over another four lakes with the sun reflecting off them - the virtual photo that Mr. McCarthy took years ago and that hangs framed in my studio. We are privileged, so privileged, to live in such a beautiful place, captured so beautifully by him.

[For more photos, go to]