Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring in the Village

It's just lovely here! I'm waiting for some people to come and show their children the new house they bought. Still a month from closing, but the boys never saw it because the parents didn't want to disappoint them if the deal fell through. They're more confident now - and today is a perfect day for it!

The benches are back all through the village. People were relaxing in the sunshine across the street - I could see them through the open door.

Our water bowl for dogs is outside. Over the winter we had to take it in on occasion because it froze solid. I look forward to it not freezing again for another eight or nine months. This year if you walk by with your dog, stop in. We have treats inside the Victorian cookie jar. Linda would love to hand them out!

I received a marvelous e-mail this morning from an old friend. I had sold her house many years ago when I was first starting out, allowing her to move to the Adirondacks to semi-retire. She just wrote that with the help of a RE/MAX agent, John Pridgen, she was able to buy a small foreclosure in North Carolina. She is settled at last, closer to family.

Even though poor Syracuse lost last night, it was a great season. Over the years I've watched other teams of young men work together ("The 'Cuse is in the House") and win together. We've had the John Wallace years and Derrick Coleman years, Carmelo and Hakim. This group has overcome a ton of adversity and played the (2nd) longest game in college history, a game for the ages, as the t-shirts say. They did well and are to be congratulated!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Good News Blog!

I can't stand it - there are just too many great news stories out there today. I was sorry I didn't know about a few of them for my update blog on Wednesday, but there's no reason I can't dedicate an entire blog to good news.

I think the overall news starts with this webcast sent in by a loyal reader. Check it out: On many fronts this says the real estate market is turning around.

Then there's the tax credit for first time (or not in a few years) homebuyers. I hear daily from my mortgage people that this is real - up to $8,000, not to be paid back at a later time. All yours - just for the buying of a home!

I spoke with an agent yesterday who got our purchase confused with another one. She begged my forgiveness, and apologized for seeming to toot her own horn, but she has had 17 (SEVENTEEN!) transactions this month. That, in our market, is huge. As a reference, RE/MAX Masters agents average more than agents from other companies, and our average per year is in the 20s.

Now for the fun stuff. I haven't passed on interesting "forwards" that I get, but I love the creativity and brevity of this one:
A Fix for the Economy
1 - There are 40 million people over the age of 50 still working. Pay each of them 1 million dollars to retire.
Result - 40 million jobs to be filled by those in need of work, unemployment is fixed.
2 - The million dollars is contingent on each retiree buying one American made car.
Result - 40 million cars ordered and the auto industry fixed.
3 - What else do they do with the money? Buy a house or pay off their mortgage!
Result - the real estate market is fixed.

Hey - why not?

And then there's The Game tonight. Syracuse University plays Oklahoma at 7:27. It's March 27th - and did I ever mention that 27 is my lucky number? If you see me out and about - radon mitigation at one house, finding a survey at another - I will be wearing my Marathon Men t-shirt available through I sent one out to our RE/MAX friend Cindy Hack in Louisville, too. They play afterwards and I wish them well! But tonight we need to paint the town ORANGE!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Finally! It's been a long day, but a good one, and just when i thought I was ready to write the late spring afternoon assailed me and Boo. We went for a climb in the cornfield and then back home for dinner. I know it's spring in Central New York because my turtlenecks are more pastel.

On to the market which has been red hot - I kid you not! There are currently 123 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. But they won't last, not if the number of phone calls and the activity keeps up! Anyway, four are new this week: two waterfront re-lists at lower prices, one country listing drastically reduced (think 25%) and a new house with acreage actually in Cayuga County.

There are six total properties marked contingent, and I must say that the two new ones are my listings. I am very happy, and I can't tell you what they will close for as my loyal readers know, but I am happy they are sold, or at least well on their way. Skaneateles will welcome two new families who will love these homes.

So far this year we have 15 homes that have closed, the latest selling for the listing price within a few weeks of its listing. The joys of great pricing! The median price of a home this year is $300,000 whereas last year there were only 13 closings but the median was $375,000.

I had lunch with Bob treating today at Valentine's. He lost the bet this morning, saying that it felt like it was 40 degrees outside at breakfast. Turns out it was only 30 degrees - if wishful thinking could make it so! We ran into a friend who constructs stairs, and he told us what everyone is saying, that he is extremely busy. "February? Nothing! Now - everything!"

I have called for buyers on several homes this past week only to find they were sold with multiple offers. I am talking about homes that have been on the market, expired and have been re-listed. Suddenly they are discovered and offers come out of nowhere. I love it! With the rates as low as they are plus the first time homebuyer tax credit - bring it on!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This and That

With great sadness I read of the death of Mike Condie, the manager of Roland's in the village. The calling hours and funeral will be tomorrow. He was a staple for 42 years in his storefront and I will miss him.

At my brokers' open at 127 Raspberry - really, you must see this home for the decorating alone! - a debate broke out among the attending Realtors about open houses. I mentioned that it would be open a lot, and one of the agents told me she thought open houses were a great waste of time and never did them. She said most people had an agent and if they wanted to see a house they could make an appointment, why take up her time. I responded that I sell through open houses and the easier I could make it for buyers to see a house, the better it was for my seller. The agent said that she still saw no reason for them. Others agreed primarily with her - so now I really want to sell my next house through an open house!

Check out the Syracuse new Times this week! Lovely 3862 Highland Avenue in Skaneateles is the "Hot Property" of the week! Lorraine Smoral did a fine job of detailing her impressions of the house, seen a few weeks ago. We also liked the photo of the outside - despite the snow!

And everyone - take note! Our new President believes Syracuse University can go to the Final Four. I knew he was a discerning man! Let's go, Orange!

Before the Louisville game I received a comment for this blog from a RE/MAX agent in Louisville, Cindy Hack. I challenged her and we ended up betting on the outcome. Since SU ran out of steam, I must wear a Louisville t-shirt at the next SU home game in the fall. Of course it will look incongruous, because SU will have defeated Louisville for the championship and everyone will be celebrating the victory!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Welcome to another week of the update! Tuesday was wild - we made an offer on a small home for over 10% of the list price, cash, no contingencies - and we lost it! There were 7 original offers and we bulled our way through to the second round. Amazing! (The price was under $100,000 - but still! - and in Syracuse - really! - and only a 2 bedroom - no way!) If you know of another one, call me please!

So back to reality. There are currently 122 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Three are "new," reactivated from last year. Two are priced about the same, but one has been drastically reduced due to its condition. Cash offers, it would like and probably need.

One property "went contingent" this week, less than a week since it came on the market. In the high, high $500,000s and overflowing with extras - everything larger or more than usual. And it sold - go figure!

We now have 14 properties closed for the year. The lake rights, village, home went for above the list price while the waterfront home went for about 28% under. But both sold fairly rapidly.

Last year at the this time there were only 12 sales, hardly significant but a possible trend. I checked out the other areas: Elbridge was about the same, Marcellus has had only 5 sales so far this year compared with 11 last year by this time - and I would think that even with the small number eyebrows are raised. Camillus had 44 sales last year - this year only 24. Spring is coming - the winter was long - we'll see.

I heard from a friend today who was lamenting - well, as a buyer he was not so much lamenting as commenting - on the number of homes on the market in his particular town, a town of about 50,000, not in New York. He said there were 216 homes listed between $200,000 and $300,000. They were mostly in developments, similar models, and one after the other was waiting for a buyer.

I looked into our areas for comparison. Taking Dewitt, Manlius, Onondaga and Camillus together there are about that number in that price range. I certainly would have thought less, especially on the west side of town. Of course many of ours are "to be built" - not as much money hasn't been committed to them yet. Nor do they stand out in developments.

Again, we are in good stead here. I went to the Waterloo Outlet Mall on Sunday and was amazed at the numbers of people in the stores. There were good sales, but not that good! For dinner we went over to Daniel's Grill in Marcellus. Because there were two of us we didn't have to wait, but it was packed (I had the prime rib with a creme brulee chaser - excellent!). As I listen to NPR's dirge each day about the economy, I am glad we haven't experienced what other communities must be going through.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Days!

I've had one of those interesting, wonderful weeks that remind me why I'm in real estate.

Last weekend we took a road trip (ROAD TRIP!) to North Carolina. I was inspired by a client/friend who called me periodically on the way to Florida a few weeks ago to negotiate an offer. By 9:00 that night he was in 65 degree temperatures and going out to eat - no boots, no gloves, no scarves, and NO snow! We were "chilling" in the teens, the snow was coming down, and "cozy by the fire" had lost its thrill. I got off the phone - the offer didn't go through - and said "We're going South - when?!" It took us a couple weeks to get ready and then we piled the dogs in the Element and left.

As you've heard me say before, if you ever want to sell a house, go on vacation. Or better yet - send your agent on vacation! Sure enough, I spent all day Thursday on the phone. Bob drove, the dogs slept, and deals were made. By the end of the weekend I had sat in the sun - 78 degrees! - for the hour I wanted, walked on the beach, eaten boiled peanuts, and sold three houses.

I told Bob we had done well. For once Skaneateles and environs were not either tormented by a blizzard which we would have enjoyed or melted by unseasonably warm temperatures. The Outer Banks were also not snowed in (that was the weekend before!) as usually happens to our destination. He said we were lucky - that was the only weekend we could possibly get away for another couple months and then by May we never want to leave.

Of course the sales made for long days after we returned. I was in the office trying to drag paperwork from people and send it elsewhere until late each night. Linda even gave up and went home.

Wednesday night I needed someone to choose a card for the drawing for the $200 Mirbeau gift certificate promised to the Realtor who showed Knightsbridge and left his/her card. As the owner and I were about to create a system to make a choice, an old friend stopped by. He no longer lives here but comes occasionally for business. On his way to dinner he saw the light and was glad to see I was still here. He pulled the card - congratulations to Ellen Hennigan of Hunt Real Estate, nee Prudential. She was thrilled!

I love seeing old friends. Our relationship started when he and his wife walked in to my old agency's office 6 years ago. Their baby had just been born and he transferred here. They eventually built a house with me and then I sold it for them a couple years later when they left. They have just recently adopted their daughter from Korea and we looked at his blog together.

Then of course, there was Thursday night - and Friday morning's - spectacular Syracuse University game for the ages. SIX overtimes! I paced from the end of regulation (and Devendorf's shot that should have counted) and wondered why I was exhausted. It was spectacular. And I was so glad I didn't have to face a classroom the next day!

Friday night I went to Doug's for takeout and the talk was all about the game and the one coming up (which they won, in overtime - one overtime - again). The line was long but the wait relatively short, even by my impatient standards, and the food as always delicious.

Now I'm in the office, preparing for my open house tomorrow at 127 Raspberry Lane in Camillus, 1:00 to 4:00, sipping a latte from the Bakery, waiting to hear about a home inspection going on right now. I'll spend the afternoon at the outlet mall in Waterloo because bamboo is being installed in the kitchen and foyer at home.

Life is good - so very, very good!

And tonight, the final game of the Big East Tournament - SU vs. Louisville. Can they do it again?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Happy One Year Anniversary of the Weekly Update! My readers have made it possible, kept me informed, and encouraged me. Thank you!

There are currently 121 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Three new ones came on last week. The village home is a re-activation - that gorgeous home on the corner of East and Onondaga. I doubt Pat Snyder, the listing agent, will object if I mention it. Then there's new construction - apparently very new - out in Parcell Woods. It's a 3 bedroom in the high $300,000s. To complete the tour - 68 acres - oh my! - in Moravia School District and a small farmhouse to boot! High $200,000s.

Altogether there are only 4 homes marked contingent in the system; the new one this week is in the town but Marcellus schools, listed in the low $100,000s. By the way, I have a buyer looking for a home in that price range but it has to be Skaneateles Schools and not too far from the village. How far - call me with a home for sale and they will let you know! Work needed on the home is NOT an issue!

There are 9 homes pending, getting ready to close sometime soon and that's a good thing! If these numbers seem low, they may not be real - I know of two homes that have sold but are still going through inspections.

We now have 12 closed properties, one more than last year at this time, but only 2/3 of the year before. Three new ones were added this week. The two waterfront closings were reduced from the original list prices by 15% to 25%. My village listing sold for 5% under the original price - I like that!

Because I was looking for the house in the $100,000 range (please let me know if you have one!) I thought I'd explore highs and lows. There are 16 active listings under $200,000. The closings - 4 in this range - suggest that this is a hotter market than the million dollar homes. Of the 21 in that range, only 1 has closed so far this year.

It's so hard to know which way to go - buy real estate because the market is bad, wait until the economy turns around....I am constantly asked what I recommend, but I can't tell people what they should do because I don't have that glass ball we all hear about, and more importantly I am not them. I only know about present conditions - but I am positive they will change. So if it's a good time to buy for you and your family - then buy! You will not be alone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update (NOT!)

It's getting late and there is so much to say....

This is the first anniversary of the weekly update and I must congratulate myself on having produced an update each and every week. Maybe not always in the beginning of the week, as I had planned, but certainly by Thursday at the latest.

The last few weeks I know people have waited on Tuesdays for the update which seems to be the day I strive to complete it. "Striving" is the key word. Tuesdays are filled with brokers' opens and ad deadlines. They also are the days people respond to open houses they saw on the weekend.

This evening I wrote an offer for a house that can't be seen until Sunday. My buyers are putting in an offer sight unseen, but they've done their homework and know this is the house for them. They are friends, it was fun to see them and try to make our offer as good as possible, but my blog got delayed again until now, after 8:00.

I want to do a good job, and writing now will not produce one. I am going to change the day to Wednesday, as in tomorrow, because I'll have a better chance not to disappoint my readers.

But in the meantime, thanks to an invaluable reader, I will leave you with this link that shows the estimated change in value of homes in our market:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Because today is filled with excitement, I am writing this update early. By excitement I mean the brokers' open at 1 Ramble Wood from 12:00 to 2:00 (the new granite looks fabulous!), my car needs brakes (will I make it over to Auburn?), three offers may or may not come in, and SU plays Rutgers at the ungodly hour of 9:00 PM! Best to blog early!

There are currently 117 active listings in the Skaneateles area. Two are new - a pretty one out in the country and a re-list, also in the countryside. Both are under $300,000.

One property has been marked contingent this past week. It's the fourth time since New Year's - hopefully this one will stick. It proves, in my book, that once you find the right price the buyers will line up. In this case the price is about two-thirds of the original...but in these times....

Another has been pended - again in the country but not Skaneateles Schools. There are a total of 16 homes waiting to close, either contingent or pended. Actually, one of these has closed - now how do I know that? - but it's not made it to the multiple listing service files yet.

Year-to-date there are 9 closed, as compared with 10 at this point last year. The latest closing is also the most expensive, with a 25% drop in price from the original list price.

I was asked over the weekend about where houses sell in relation to the original price. I said in Skaneateles we are seeing approximately a reduction of between 10% and 25%. Elsewhere the number is under 10%. The people who questioned me said they had experienced in their home town 25% to 35%, so we are still not in that category. It's always important to remember that we are living in a small area where the ills of the nation have not penetrated.