Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Many apologies for the tardiness of this blog! No, my birthday celebration did not take on gargantuan proportions - as a matter of fact, I worked through most of it. I'll have another birthday next year - and my sister will come to that one, too, I hope!

There are currently 161 homes listed as active in the Skaneateles area. There were 9 new listings this past week, of which 5 were re-lists, 2 new waterfront properties, and 2 new town/village.

Two properties were marked contingent - and 3 were pending, of which 2 went directly to pending, didn't pass "K..." but will collect a bundle of money if the offer is anywhere near the list prices! And we don't know, and won't know until the properties are closed. If anything should happen - and as I've written, it does all too frequently, especially these days - the agents don't want the price negotiated to be common knowledge.

We had a village closing, too. That's 2 this month - an improvement on the last one being in March! We now have 25 closings on the record.

Of these 25 closings, 7 are in the village, 6 are waterfront, and therefore 12 are town or surrounding townships. Percentages: 28% village, 24% waterfront, 48% town.

Last year: 55 closings by this date, 35% village, 16% waterfront, and 51% town. I'd say the village vs. waterfront statistics are significant. There are a lot of people waiting out there for something to happen. But the waterfront people are stepping up, knowing that this market is still good.

I asked what people want to know, a brief survey in the office.... One facetious answer was "Where can I park?" Answer - on the street is usually the easiest place to find a space, easier than the parking lot that everyone tends to circle first. But a real estate question also surfaced: "Who is buying the waterfront homes?"

Generally, they are local people. We went over in our heads a few recent sales and yes, local was the answer. I know the waterfront I've sold in the past has been to people who either are local, have a local connection (grew up here, parents still here) or want to maintain a local connection. Most people think it's people from the large metropolitan areas, but I don't believe so. Maybe other Realtors can add to this - watch for comments on this blog.

I didn't go to any opens yesterday - again I ran off to sell a home. So once again, no "House of the Week." I'd love to hear from people - what do you want to know about real estate in Skaneateles?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birthday Greetings

Tomorrow is my birthday. I am looking forward to spending a good deal of it with my sister, Bev, and her husband, John.

This will be my first birthday with her. As an only child, I always had friends and neighbors with whom to share my birthday. Since it was in the summer, the kids at camp came to my party and I always asked for Mrs. Funck's lasagna as a special treat for dinner. In later years Alex and his friends would be there and later still Bob came into the picture. He proposed on my birthday at the lake, as a matter of fact.

But my family wasn't that close and really consisted only of cousins. Once we got the camp when I was 10 they became less prominent in my life.

But now I have a sister.

I was adopted and found my birthmother in 1992. She told me that my father had two daughters but didn't know what had become of them. At her funeral the next year I learned that one had died of cancer and the other was in Florida somewhere. The gentleman who told me offered to act as a go-between - but then he passed on unexpectedly, too. It took me until 1997 to try the addresses he gave me, and by then she was gone. I fiddled with the internet a bit, but without luck.

In January Karen, marvelous Karen, our receptionist here, told me about finding someone through the internet. I offhandedly remarked that she should find my sister if she wanted a project. She did. Quickly.

I called Bev out of the blue and she accepted me on the spot. "Cool," she said, when I stopped talking. She had no idea that I existed, but still she accepted me.

Tomorrow she will come and walk the Elbridge property with John and her dog for the first time. We'll come over to the village for the boats and then go on to camp for the first time. She wants to sit on the deck and share a bottle of wine. I just want my sister to be part of my life. My sister - I never thought this would ever happen!

So I am sharing this bit of Life with my readers, with the caveat that we don't know what awaits us around the next corner. I am thrilled that for me it was my sister. And thankful forever to Karen who made this possible!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Village is So Lovely!

It's 6:15 on Friday night. I'm back in the office today after a busy morning and afternoon, preparing an itinerary for tomorrow's showings. I am also fielding phone calls for showings of my own listings.

The line to Doug's extends in front of our window. I estimate a 45 minute wait, but they are all smiling and thrilled to be in Skaneateles in the sunshine. The band will play in a while, they will have good food to eat, and they will leave satisfied with their evening in the Village.

Blogging has taken a toll the last few days. I have been running full out, getting home around 9:00 and starting the phone calls and e-mails at 8:30 the next day. I didn't go to any broker's opens this week - there were only two, and I'd seen them both, if I recall. So sorry - no "House of the Week" for the second week!

I received a comment you'll see - and please, feel free to comment on my blog! You can do so anonymously! - that requested definition of the high-end waterfront property that had sold in the past week and I wrote about in the update. I really do not want to publish information without either permission of all agents involved or prior publication in a non-Realtor only venue. But remember - you can always call me at the office (315-685-4788 x637) and ask me directly. As you've read here before - a home is not sold until closed. I would hate to influence a sale negatively - that's certainly not my intention with this blog!

As I sat here, a client-friend-newcomer poked his head in the door to say hello. Such a simple thing, but it means so much. I asked him to come in, but he was afraid to lose his place in line so I came outside to chat. Can an evening get any better than this?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Currently there are 160 active single family residence listings in the Skaneateles area in the multiple listing service. This past week 7 new homes came on the market. Two of these are re-lists, two others are re-configurations of old listings (I'll explain later), and the other three are brand new (or at least not having sold in the past 7 or so years that the ML covers.)

About the reconfigurations: these are new construction homes that initially were marketed as million dollar plus homes. They are now being sold as 600K homes - certainly smaller, less magestic, fewer bells and whistles. The market just isn't there. Butters Farm a few years ago learned that lesson also. People simply do not pay for that type of home not on the water or not historic - at least not yet in Skaneateles.

Three homes closed this week! Hooray! At this rate we will exhaust our backlog in about a year. There are now 23 closings - last year at this time there were 50.

I just spoke with a couple financial types - an analyst and a tax accountant. The prediction is that the turn-around is almost here. "We are 80% through it," was one take. So while Syracuse is a thriving market, Skaneateles more nearly reflects the rest of the country - except that we rarely have foreclosures. Only a couple of the active listings are bank-owned - hardly worth mentioning!

Back to the facts. A huge, gorgeous waterfront home was marked "K" this week. It had been listed several times and now the price is right and it was sold. Oh - and wait! - one of the new listings - a recently built village home - came on the market and was immediately sold, so that's now marked "K."

I predict that two months from now we will be writing offers and scrambling to beat deals. It will happen. So if you are reading this and like a home out there - buy it now! Even if you have to write a contingency contract. Just do it!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This and That

Just getting ready to leave it all behind for 24 hours or so and head for the lake.

This sidewalk sale appeared to be a huge success! People everywhere - up and down the streets, eating ice cream, wandering through stalls. Lisa said it took her 15 minutes to go from the Post Office on Fennel to East Lake Road. Bob said cars were parked all the way up Genesee Street.

That rain keeps coming at odd moments. Bob calls it "Hawaiian weather." First so hot and humid it's hard to breathe, then gushing rain showers until the gutters spill over and the drains fill up. Then a few hours of breathing until the heat comes again. Lush, lush vegetation though!

This year's Nationals - all the hot rods and older cars at the State Fair - was fun. Someone told us it was 104 degrees - but not so hot as a couple years ago when I almost keeled over with the heat. We saw "The Fonz" in the Center for Progress Building. The guy behind Bob said, "Hey, Fonz!" and he corrected "The name is Henry." I told him I loved the Christmas Hallmark productions and he immediately pulled out a DVD to sell me. I explained it was the wrong show - I like the Truman Capote "Christmas Memory" stories - and he seemed quite sad. Cindy Williams was there, too, reminding me again how much one of my friends looks like her. But my friend doesn't chew gum.

That made us nostalgic and we came home and watched "American Graffiti."

This day's rain is over and the sun is out again - time to put the top down on the Cabrio, pick up the dogs and go to the lake. Good day - wrote an offer (I really hope it goes!), had an open house, researched homes for a client, and talked to an old friend. Time for corn on the cob!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Doom and Gloom - Not!

Watching CNN yesterday at noon I was amazed at the lines of people waiting to get their money out of the California bank that failed. On the way in to the village I heard that any money over $100,000 was not insured, so the excess would be returned 25 - 50 cents on the dollar.

I really never expected to see this in my lifetime. I thought of the scene in It's a Wonderful Life in which the people flood the bank, demnding their cash. Grapes of Wrath came to mind, with belongings (and Grandma) strapped to the pick-up. Say it ain't so!

Well, it's not. It's a different world today than in the Great Depression. Institutions learned from that and changed, put in safeguards so America (and the world) would never have to go through that again.

Yes, it will be different this year. Take the train, not the car to The City. Enjoy the beauty of the Finger Lakes and not Italy perhaps. Go to Saratoga and not Santa Monica. Sail instead of ski; Toggenburg instead of Aspen.

But as one door closes, another door opens.

If cooler heads prevail, perhaps five years from now we will be on the road to energy freedom - the hybrid cars, hydrogen cars, electric cars all may be the new thing but the "in" thing. We will have figured out how to heat homes without the high cost of oil - $4.77/gallon to lock in? We used over 1300 gallons a year until we disconnected the boiler! The pellet stove we bought in May has already paid for itself!

I do worry about the people who can't simply go out and buy a stove - but when everyone pulls together and faces the same circumstances, a sense of community can develop. Will develop, I hope. And it will be back to the old days - more kids will walk to school, but there will be fewer cars polluting. I have to believe that the number of vehicular deaths will drop dramatically.

A mortgage will return to being something that is earned, not blithely given away. There will be a pride of ownership that struggling to get something worthwhile encourages. The throwaway society we have become will change - the old mower will get fixed, the house renovated, the clothing stitched. I don't see the return of the darning egg, though, I must admit.

Change is always scary and being bombarded with unsettling images doesn't help. But I am excited to see what waits for us in five years, more than eager for a change of energy policy - I may have grandchildren some day who will benefit! But Skaneateles is not moving off the lake, and the lake isn't going anywhere either. No matter what - even if it means bringing back the trolleys and the trains - we will be able to spend a soothing summer afternoon in the park.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

This will be short, but maybe not sweet yet.

The tide is turning. I'm writing this Tuesday morning and as I checked my MLXchange for broker's opens, I found none. I spoke with Lisa in the office and she said there were none that she could find, either - "I've never seen it like this!" she added.

I think it's progress. We're now going to sell off everything that's there. Quickly, I hope!

Snapshot: There are 159 active listings in the Skaneateles area. Only two new listings came on this past week, a village home and a waterfront for 1.4M. There are two new properties marked "K" for contingent for a total of 7 waiting for the next designation. Altogether there are 6 pending which means that all they need to do is close!

We have 21 closures according to the MLS so far this year. Last year there were 48 closed by this date. Sigh.

Marcellus had 32 last year and now 28; Camillus had 120 last year and now 141. Elbridge has held even. (BTW - I have an ad in the paper in Neighbors West and on Saturday in the Post-Standard: "Come to the village garage sale (in Elbridge) and buy a home! Open 11 to 1:00" for my 204 South Street ($174,500) listing. You have to have fun sometimes!)

There are 2,822 hard-working agents out there in the multiple listing service. All those agents will converge on Skaneateles for the sidewalk sale this Thursday through Saturday and to sell these homes because they recognize that "they" aren't making any more waterfront and there are so very few villages like Skaneateles in the world. If you don't want to live in the village or town, then buy a home in the area - we have a gorgeous landscape!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movement and Rumors

I've spent the weekend here in the village. Yesterday I showed properties literally from morning to night, and of course in between I held open 14 Hannum Street.

In making appointments, I spoke with many agents and all were very willing to share what they've heard about the movement of properties.

Some we know - there's a SOLD sign on the house on the corner of State and Austin. Actually, that may be all we know in that fashion, but....

The "million dollar home" - the brick on the corner of East and Onondaga - is 99% gone according to one inside source. It's never closed until it's closed, but SOLD may appear soon.

A superb waterfront home that just came on may or may not be SOLD - we'll have to wait and see, but that should be resolved by the end of the week one way or another.

I do know that my clients won out over four other offers and now have the privilege of doing a home inspection on a place in Skaneateles. I can't wait to see SOLD on that property - but it's not up to me, alas!

There is a bit of land that's gone apparently - can't say SOLD yet, but it seems to be taken, much to the surprise of its owners. A longer story - should have SOLD ages ago!

The update is the subject of tomorrow's blog - but then, I'm showing several homes to two different sets of people, so it might not be written until Tuesday.... I certainly want to add to the number of SOLD signs here in the village!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer in the City

Sean Kirst's column today in the Post-Standard had me in tears before 8:00, as his columns often tend to do. I read them with trepidation, wondering what emotion he will wring from me.

Go to for his blog or the local section of today's P-S on to see what stirred me.

Sean wrote about a culture that appears to be dying. He spoke movingly about his experiences growing up in an upstate New York city, and how he wanted the same for his children. The impetus was a report that said Syracuse, for the first time in decades, is under 140,000 in population.

I've run into Sean over the years at Little League games and when my nephew returned from an extended tour of duty in Iraq. Many of my nieces and nephews have grown up on the west side of Syracuse, playing with his kids or at least enjoying the same pastimes. They've had true summers in the city - baseball games at the different parks, church on Sunday at Holy Rosary, theatrical productions through the city school district (last year's Beauty and the Beast was great!), working at ice cream stands like Gannon's and now Mahoney's on South Salina.

I have two listings that are investment properties in the area. One is a duplex, and if you read Sean's article you'll see why it stood out for me. It's a very pretty home, just across from Rosary - I'm showing it today to someone who wants his kids to stay in the city and begin their families there. Only $69,000 -

The other is a pure faith two family near there on a street that has seen hard times but is coming back. The owner has gone through it and brought back the charm of bay windows, large eat-in kitchen, hardwood floors, refurbished molding. Off street parking and a good-sized backyard with a fence like Sean describes, for talking over with your neighbor. Only $49,500 -

My nieces and nephews have gone on to colleges with educations in summer living in the city. I hope that they will continue the tradition of large families in the city so I can selfishly borrow some of the fun of hot summer nights sweltering at Little League games, eating hot dogs and rooting for the Southside Americans. Most will leave, I know that, but I hope the city remains for them to return to their roots, even as a visitor, as I have.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

House of the Week

No question. I walked in to this home at 14 Hannum Street and was greeted by John Petrus ( with "This is the House of the Week!" Apparently John has been reading my blog; he was there providing the refreshments for Jerry Morrissey's broker's open.

I chatted for a while with the homeowner, and we played the small world game. Her kids went to school with my niece and nephew, she's good friends (who knew?) with one of my sisters-in-law, and she also knows old friend Randy, famous for mentions in Jeff Kramer's irreverent column in the Post-Standard. Phfew! Got that out of the way!

As I stood there in the kitchen I realized overwhelmingly that I was in a unique home. I knew the house from its last incarnation - small, but with a measure of character, certainly a village home on the order of a Provincetown home without the exterior charm, close to others but so wonderfully in the village and on the creek. There were possibilities there, but not for my buyers.

Now it has character. No, Character with a capital C! The owner has done the sensible things: new roof, new windows, new siding, new plumbing, all new appliances, a 400 sf. addition to create a family room, two new bedrooms in the basement with a full bath, and another full bath to bring the total to three. All in two years!

Then she added the details, and while I hate the phrase "too numerous to mention," they are. She's listed them in an Improvements page I can send to you**(or pick them up at the open house), but I want to pull out some to highlight, and give you more that don't appear in the summary.

Structural. The kitchen floor is red brick, the kids' wing (basement) has a round stone sink with a McKenzie-Child's painted bowl, and the upstairs master bath used the old kitchen sink for the "new" bathroom. I hope this gives you an idea - I doubt it does, though. The beams/paneling in the eat-in kitchen came from the old barn on East Lake Road - Kuykendall's - that went down one afternoon a few years ago. The stones in the children's bathroom were uncovered from the original foundation. The brick in the enclosed patio came from a chimney that was buried in the kitchen wall. Again, there's more "too numerous....etc."

Staging. I had just finished re-reading The Great Gatsby (I've been told it should be read at least once a decade) and there I was, walking into the flapper era. I still haven't taken it all in, so forgive me, but I remember a dress hanging in the front room and a stole (mink?) on the couch. The small office has an incredible mural and the little space under the stairs was turned into a telephone nook. Climbing upstairs, they twist and turn, I came to a charming master bedroom which led into the master bath - I imagine that's where the clawfoot tub is. Absolutely charming!

It was impossible on a brief tour to see it all - the private gardens by the creek, it even has a garage! - so when jerry suggested doing an open house I agreed.

If you would like to see it, I will hold it **open on Saturday this week, the 12th, from 12:00 to 2:00**. I have appointments before and after, so I must stay within this time frame. (Of course you can always call to schedule a private showing, don't forget.) Easy to find - Hannum is the street by the Sherwood Inn. 14 Hannum is on the right, a white house, and there will be streams of people flowing in and out. Please tell me you read about it here - I absolutely love hearing that people read my blog!

Offered at $399,900.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

This week should be subtitled, "The Waterfront Edition."

There are currently 163 single family homes on the market in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Of course this includes new construction and properties not actually in the Town or Village of Skaneateles but somehow related to them.

This past week 8 more properties came on the market, of which 3 are waterfront and 2 are re-lists, one of them a waterfront. Since the Fourth of July weekend was last week and the village was absolutely overrun with tourists, bringing the waterfront properties on made a great deal of sense.

There were 2 - count 'em! - properties marked contingent. One was an incredible waterfront (or close to - across the road) and the other had great lake views. Also, the 1 closed property was waterfront, in the low $600,000s.

This made me wonder how all those many waterfront properties were actually doing in relation to other years. Of the closed properties this year-to-date (20), a total of 6 were waterfront. That's 30% - I can do it without the calculator.

Last year we had 46 closings at this time, and 9 of them were waterfront. That's slightly under 20%. For the entire year, this percentage remained (20/103).

So in conclusion, the waterfronts are selling better than the homes. We also seem to be ahead of last year's mark - my guess is because Skaneateles Lake is still a good buy, a great buy actually! There just isn't water out there like ours. Not as clean, as pure, as historic, and as easily reached from the major Northeast cities. And this year with the price of gas, it's time to stay home or not travel very far.

Skaneateles is a world-class destination!


I took a brief hiatus over the Fourth of July holiday, and my apologies to you, loyal readers. That doesn't mean I wasn't busy with real estate and Life.

During this time, I:
  • Wrote three offers, one of which turned into a multiple offer rapidly (of course this also means we saw three properties, wrote the contracts, re-wrote the contracts...)
  • Roamed the lake, bringing flares to my waterfront clients (it's a long lake!)
  • Worked with Pat Canole of the Post-Standard to make 11 Onondaga the House of the Week this past Sunday
  • Held 11 Onondaga open Sunday afternoon - it was amazing! The power of the press!

In the Life category:

  • My son proposed to his lovely Rachel with a sign we hung from the deck at the lake, "Rachel, Will you marry me?"
  • She said "Yes!"
  • We said good-bye to our old cat, Hermes, Sunday night. He was the subject of a blog (March 13th in the archives) when we thought he might leave us. Doc Schnabel said "Not yet" and Hermes got to sit in the sun on the deck for more months than we thought he would have.

So please excuse the hitaus - I have an update planned and houses to see on broker's open today - I will make it up to you!