Thursday, April 30, 2009
36 Calemad $412,000
3067 East Lake Road $1,700,000
884 West Elizabeth Street $155,000
18 Goodspeed Place $365,000
25 Griffin Street $229,000
1552 Heifer Road $350,000
3930 Jordan Road $220,000
4671 Jordan Road $114,500
52 Jordan Street $375,000
2179 West Lake Road $300,000
12 Lakeview Circle $460,000
4076 Mill Road $60,000
1002 Mistletoe Drive $200,000
1675 New Seneca Turnpike $165,000
11 Onondaga Street $475,000
104 Orchard Road $572,164
1687 Russells Landing $525,000
1416 Thornton Heights Road $198,250
4740 Vinegar Hill Road $180,450
3373 West Lake Street $700,000
There they are, as requested! Please let me know if this is worthwhile to you. And yes, you will notice that "Skaneateles" is loosely defined, that some homes are in Cayuga County but claim Skaneateles phone numbers and the school district. Others are in the Jordan-Elbridge School District.
Let's hope the next 20 won't take 4 months to produce! So if you're thinking about buying or selling a home......please let me know!
As of yesterday, there were 138 active listings in the Skaneateles area as defined by the multiple listing service. Seven new listings came on over the past week - 2 in new construction, 2 waterfront properties, 2 re-lists at different prices (lower), and one brand new listing.
Four - count them! - single family residences "sold" in the past week. Wow! My fabulous fixer-upper (not mine, but I loved the possibilities) out on Nunnery is marked contingent, as are two other homes in the town. A waterfront that was reduced about 33% of its original price was also marked contingent. Things are happening!
We now have 22 closed properties, the latest being a village home that came within 6% of its original price from last fall. Last year we only had 15 properties closed, a significant difference.
Camillus is suffering through our last year's market: 47 have closed in 2009 as compared with last year's 82 by this time. Marcellus is also slumping a bit - 9 compared with 17 in 2008. Elbridge, dear old Elbridge, is mogging along at the same rate just about - 9 homes now, 10 last year.
I have not forgotten my promise to publish the list of closed homes. I will take that up later today. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
New appraisal rules take afect May 1st - no one talks to the appraiser! He or she is hired through an appraisal management company. Do you think they'll raise the cost?
Binghamton used its stimulus money to buy 6 new hybrid buses. Why? They are built in Johnson City!
Check this out: www.walkability.com It will give you an idea of how "walkable your neighborhood, or where you are buying, really is. (I haven't tried it yet.)
So while I wait for class to begin again, I'll write a bit. From the morning I remember our discussion about what we do differently - green - in our homes. Not surprisingly, several women were from Ithaca. One of them composts dog poop for use on her flowers - can't wait to tell Bob and Boo! Another gave her husband a worm farm for Christmas, and now they compost instead of throw out leftover veggies, etc.
Another high point was Velux solar tubes. Get sunshine into your home! Only $700 installed.
Food for thought from the instructor: "List them high, watch them die. List them low, watch them go."
Check tax bills when buying a home. Sometimes they include past water bills - which the buyer should not have to pay for!
Xeriscaping: using plants suitable to the climate that absorb excess water or need little watering.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Jose and his mother and sisters moved to Florida before his graduation from high school. Over the years he and Bob lost touch. A few years ago we ran into Jose's sister, Cynthia, at St. Camillus where my mother was a patient. She told him how to contact Jose and the friendship was renewed.
Jose had gone to college in St. Louis on a football scholarship. After that he went into business as a private detective and took classes towards his Master's. He was divorced, but had two little boys whom he saw a lot. He took them to visit their grandmother in Florida with his ex-wife's blessing. His volunteer work involved working with kids in trouble.
A couple Christmases ago I decided to do a theme present for Bob. I gave him all sorts of camping equipment and then the wherewithal to bring Jose and his kids East to go camping in the Adirondacks, just as he had taken Jose. I wanted the boys to have the same experience that had made such a lasting impression on their father. And on me. Thanks to real estate I had the means.
Jose was speechless, then teared up when Bob told him during their annual Christmas Day call. They planned for June. If the whole Adirondack trip proved too much for the littler one who has Down syndrome, we figured they could camp in our back yard and have the same amount of fun as driving two hours away. Bob planned a camp ground, a flat space with only a few trees. Whenever we walked out with the dogs we would talk about "when Jose and the boys come."
We didn't hear from Jose for a while and we got a bit worried. Then in May he called. His kidneys had failed and he had spent weeks in the hospital. He would be on dialysis while waiting for a kidney. Jose said he couldn't make it that year.
But he was determined to come, checking out what would happen if a kidney did become available while he was here - they would send it to Syracuse - and how to have his dialysis here in any event. The campground became more of a possibility. Jose seemed upbeat. The unexplained weight he had gained was now explained and as it dropped he said he felt as if he were in the best shape he'd been for years. Inexplicably he had had no warning - no headaches, no pain, just sudden illness and waking up to find his kidneys would never function again.
Again we planned for June. The kids got out earlier there (elementary school) and we had the wedding to take up our July. I pictured the kids getting off the plane with their SU Orange paraphernalia that Bob always sent them.
Instead we got a call from Jose's mother, Henrietta. He had lapsed into a coma and only a miracle would save him. After five weeks no miracle came. We got the call in the middle of the night.
Bob spent the weekend in Florida attending Jose's funeral. The pictures he brought home were of a very extended family (10 brothers and sisters in all) and a small town and small church that came together for "Jose's Homegoing."
I can see the little boy in the photo of the man. I have no pictures of his sons - calling hours for friends and that part of the family were in St. Louis past week. I can see the love and respect the family have for Bob. He was listed as Jose's Godfather on the bulletin from the church. He feels as if a chapter has closed, but he has his memories. I still wish the boys and their father could have come camping in our backyard.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
So I don't forget: Thursday evening is our mortgage discussion and learning session with John pettrus from Key Bank. It will be held at 3862 Highland Avenue, which of course just happens to be on the market and listed by me, from 7:00 to 8:00. Please come! John will be talking about more than just the new homebuyers' tax credit. He'll answer your questions about everything - well, almost everything!
There are currently 134 listings in the Skaneateles area as defined by the multiple listing service. Six new ones came on the market in the past week and there is something for everyone. If you like small camps there's one out there for under $350,000, complete with its own independent toilet. More room needed? Try the waterfront with 1300 sf and almost twice the price. If you'd rather build, close to the village, Butters Farm now has a home under $400,000 - 3 bedrooms, but the prices have changed a bit. Not enough land? You can purchase almost 20 acres plus a house and a stable for under $500,000 not far out of the village. And if all you want is to put your feet up after walking a block from the Bluewater, there's a village home on a tiny lot just waiting for you - no mowing, and even a guest cottage for your help.
One property seems to have sold this week. This was waterfront with acreage down the south end of the lake. I am looking forward to seeing the actual price of the sale as a starting point for camps under one million this season. I went to an open house this week in the same general area - still pristine and quiet and so different from the village end of the lake.
We have two newly closed properties. My bet is that the $60,000 paid for the little house outside of the village will be the lowest price of any this year. A newly constructed home just closed also in the mid-$300,000 range. Waterfront homes are outselling new construction 2:1, but the year is young. As promised I will write out the list of closed homes and their prices in another blog now that we are over 20 homes closed.
But come to the mortgage seminar - I would love to hear that you read my blog and heard about it here! No need to reserve a space - there is always room for my loyal readers!
Monday, April 20, 2009
The latest push came from a woman I spoke with today at Mirbeau. While I was waiting, ever so briefly, for a client, we got to talking. Within three minutes - I kid you not! - the matter of assessments had come up. She stated that a friend of hers had had his property's value increased 550%!
Over the weekend I talked to another man. His waterfront had gone up about 300% over the past few years to the point where he had to sell. The prospect was obviously painful and emotional for him. He still hasn't decided what to do. He's already fought the assessment in the past and brought it down some. Is it a realistic assessment? Only time on the market will tell.
Another man reminded me of the taxes in other parts of the country. His gorgeous - and I do mean gorgeous! - Florida home has about a third of the taxes as my Elbridge home. Do I get more services? I doubt it - public water but no sewer, no garbage pick up or town transfer station. I bet he has all three - and warm weather to boot! Schools? I would think ours would beat theirs, but then, I'm prejudiced.
My cousins down in Alabama pay less for their huge ranch on the golf course. They moved there to get out of the cold when they retired, plus play golf, and pay less for both their home (at that time) and the taxes. They liked it so much that they invited their friends and relatives down for a visit, and they ended up staying! I toyed with the idea myself when I was single, but I'm glad I stayed.
This year my taxes went up at the lake. My assessment increased $50,000 but my taxes decreased $1,000. Go figure! I've heard the same thing from others - one friend's assessment went up $90,000 and her taxes only $100. And then there are the people less fortunate, who now must choose. If we lose the senior STAR program in New York it will be even harder for those who live in one home and use it to keep taxes low.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
My mortgage person told me it was time to refinance, based on what rate I could get and what rate I had. I would save $173 per month! WOW! But my 700 credit score wasn't really good enough....had to get off that pesky Verizon mistake...hmmmmmm.
A friend is buying a house. He bought a house before he got married and his wife never quite got on the deed, so he thought that if his wife bought a new house - first time home buyer! - they would qualify for the tax credit, but no........
There are so many questions out there that need answers! If you would like to informally ask some more or hear the answers, you are invited to spend an hour with John Petrus from Key Bank.
When: Thursday, April 23rd 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Where: 3862 Highland Avenue in Skaneateles (call for directions)
Refreshments will be served - space is limited, so please call me (315-447-0441) to reserve a spot. I hope we have a fun and informative evening!
Currently there are 133 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Eight new ones have been added - spring must be coming! Of the eight, only two are re-lists. One is waterfront with a new agent and a 10% reduction in price from the last listing and the second is also reduced about 10% and is in the Jordan-Elbridge school district.
The six new listings are made up of two in the village (both with the number 16 - spooky!) and one in the country. The other three have waterfront and range in price from $520,000 for lake rights, albeit village, to almost one million dollars down the East side. I imagine there will be others coming on.....now how would I know that?
But nothing sold this week, as evidenced by being marked contingent. And nothing new closed. I do know again at least two that are primed and ready for closing, just waiting for paperwork to be finalized.
Since there's so little to report except the new listings, I thought I'd look at other categories. No condos have sold this year so far, or multi-families although there are a few on the market. There have been four different groupings of lots that have closed totaling over 150 acres in all. While one would support a single house, the others could be developments in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Here's the discussion. A question was raised concerning why I didn't simply identify the houses that have closed. It is a matter of public record anyway, so I am not revealing anything confidential. I've chosen not to name addresses because I prefer to go a step farther, analyzing the trends. If, for example, a house listed originally at $499,000 and then sold three years later for $350,000 that is important. It may have gone through several Realtors, several price changes both up and down (it happens!) before common ground was discovered and there was a meeting of the minds. I am privy to the history because of the multiple listing service to which I belong and pay dues. That information is not general knowledge. I feel that as long as I speak about a property without naming it I can give more valuable information.
However - I do understand a desire to see what has sold this year and be able to identify the houses. "A village house" could be anything from a split level on Route 321 to a split level on Lakeview Circle. If the first house sold for $500,000 that is HUGE. I can see how this information is important to both buyers and sellers. I will therefore publish a list of sales - houses and sold prices - after every 20 sales. The sales will already have been published in the Post-Standard, but not everyone reads it, even online, and on occasion they seem to get it wrong. If someone has a reason to object, please let me know. And hopefully that list will occur next week, probably in a separate blog without any analysis.
Please enjoy the weather! And buy a house or two this week - the deals are out there!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
There are currently 127 - same as last week, the same number! - active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Four new ones came on this week, two as re-lists and two brand new ones. The new ones are in the $300,000 range. One of the re-lists is the gorgeous brick on Onondaga Street and the other is a marvelous ranch/contemporary home down West Lake Road, not too far from the village. Having spent a great deal of time there, I can tell you that lake views are possible from the kitchen and there are windows everywhere! It really is a lovely home in need of a family - or single person - or retired couple - to love it.
Three houses have sold this week, one a village property that hasn't been on very long and was never reduced. Unfortunately the other two were reduced tremendously, by 30% to 40%. As I say, there are bargains to be had! But the good news is that homes that have been on the market and whose owners are willing to price aggressively are succeeding.
That hypothesis is born out by the number of closings, so far 19 year-to-date. The latest is a village home that sold for about 15% under the original list price, but it sold! Last year we only had 14 closings by this time. This year is really looking up!
If there are conclusions to be drawn from the homes that have closed, the one startling number is in new construction - only one sale (in the MLS). I have to say I have heard many times this year from agents "Oh, they'll probably build." This is after seeing multiple homes and checking construction prices. I am guessing that several homes are under construction.
The world has changed. I had several conversations with mortgage people today. My bank quoted me 4.6% for a 15 year loan. Time to refinance! Others require 20% down, unheard of a year ago. But then there are the FHA loans with only 3.5% down for qualified buyers. They still exist, and in many cases have better rates than conventional loans.
But the office has been booming, the sun is out, and I am looking forward to another sale by the end of the week! In the meantime I will order takeout - black bean nachos for Bob from Bluewater - and maybe for me, too. It's time to celebrate. But before we eat, on the way home, I will show - no, SELL - a house!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The open house is meant to attract people who want to look without making it a grand experience. The buyer doesn't have to call anyone, simply show up and walk through the front door. A friendly greeting to the agent is polite, signing in with a real name and number is expected, and then the buyer gets to see the house, usually in his or her own time. That's how I do it.
First to come in usually are the neighbors. Often the owners say they don't want people "snooping." I see it as an opportunity for the people on the street to check out the house. If the seller has made it as beautiful as it can be, and everyone agrees it shows well - what's wrong with sharing it with friends and acquaintances? They have friends, too. If they like the house they will tell others and so on. Neighbors are good things!
The real buyers come at the first open house,which is why pricing is so important, right bfrom the beginning. They are the ones who have been watching the neighborhood either online or through an agent, or by driving around. The Open Sunday sign that goes out on the For Sale sign early in the week gears them up to look forward to seeing the house. They are primed and ready. They could come in earlier, but if they know they can casually approach the house then it's an easier introduction.
As a selling agent, I like having people milling about all at the same time. They comment on things - last week I heard a very audible "Awesome!" from upstairs. There's also the sense that if the buyer does not act quickly, the smiling guy they passed on the stairs will take the house away from them.
Open houses are also the time for friends to check out houses for other friends. It happens very often, that the principle buyer will not come but will send someone who likes looking at houses to check it out. There's no need for phone calls, just dropping in and being pleasant for a few minutes, then reporting back.
There's nothing like a successful open house! People go up and down, discuss what they like - and what they don't like - place furniture. The kids who go through claim their rooms (but they do that anyway, any time they go through any house!) Feedback is fairly instantaneous. I can watch and see what attracts attention - the stainless steel refrigerator? The mud room? The decorating? It literally is seeing the house through someone else's eyes - an invaluable tool!
After the open house I generally follow up but I don't become the dreaded "pushy agent." Sometimes I send out cards or e-mails, at other times I call. Often there's a question I can answer or a thought that can be completed. I call agents if their clients came through and wrote on my sigh-in sheet "Represented by ___________________." Many times the agents have no idea their clients have gone through any houses.
I have an open house scheduled for this weekend on Sunday, the 19th, from 1:00 to 3:00 in Skaneateles. Look for it in the paper or online: 3862 Highland Avenue, 3 BR, 3 car garage, inground pool - $279,000. Tell me you read my blog and you will make my day!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
It's April and it's snowing out. Really, really snowing. The white stuff is going horizontal because of the wind. I showed two houses today and checked a couple more, and I'm glad to be back home at the computer.
As are many people, I dare say. This week I took a seminar - along with an overflow crowd of Realtors from the area, on "Marketing and Technology - A Survival Guide." The room was packed - we rarely have as many people from the office in the same place, and yet there we (almost) all were way up at Carrier Circle at 9:00 in the morning!
Because we need to know what's new, and how to get there. Our overall Syracuse market is still strong, and Skaneateles is getting stronger by the day, but who knows when the downturn will catch Central New York. If ever, but that's an editorial comment. In any case, we all could take Wednesday morning and early afternoon off on the odd chance that we would learn something.
The presentation in many ways merely showcased www.Realtor.com and why we need it. We can put 16 pictures now in the multiple listing service, but 25 on Realtor.com. And why would we? Because 87% of buyers now go to the internet to begin their search. That's huge! Up from 41% in 2001. Eight years and it's more than doubled.
By way of illustration, a friend sent me a link to a website with the note to check it out. It seemed inocuous enough - homes in the 13152 zip code for sale. But there were only 42, and I know - as you do, if you've been reading my blog - there are more than that for sale. I got more suspicious when it said there were no foreclosures or FSBOs (for sale by owners). By golly - all the listings on closer inspection were from the same company! You'd think no other company existed! And yet it didn't appear to be a hosted site - now why is that?
The important part is that my friend was looking, as are almost everyone else it seems, and now we have the statistic to back it up. My podiatrist seems to be the only person who doesn't know how much the house down the street from him was even listed for. But he's a rarity.
So, now that the case for technology has been proved, what can I do to best show my homes? I am on Realtor.com, but the presenter was right, I need a better camera to make my pictures stand out. I put the call out on Facebook and got suggestions, and will purchase one this week. (Stay tuned!)
And that's another skill we need to learn as Realtors - social networking. I entered the world of Facebook a few weeks back and found an old friend from high school - who is a photographer and who gave me a suggestion for a camera (I love this stuff!) But I can also send out the word about properties...and if you have other suggestions, please let me know!
The downside of all this is that print is going away. Although we continue to advertise in the Post-Standard our listings are also on www.Syracuse.com (as is a connection to my blog). I have a weekly ad in the Skaneateles Journal - has anyone seen it? I have yet to get a call saying, "Hey, I saw your listing in the Journal this week...." And with the decline of print - Harmon Homes is gone, the Syracuse New Times has cut their "Hot Property" column to save money and space - then the ads will go, too. Or maybe the ads went because they don't work and created a deficit for the newspapers...
So I will beef up my Realtor.com space, add a couple other paid internet sites for specific listings (waterfront and commercial) and.......drum roll, please!....and.....
I will have two ads on the new RE/MAX Real Estate Showcase to premier sometime in May on Sundays, 11:30 to 12:00 on Channel 68 (Fox, non-cable). This means every week two of my listings will have 3o seconds each and 6 photos, then if either are being held open they will be part of the open house scroll at the end of the broadcast. Our franchise, RE/MAX Masters, will share the half hour with RE/MAX Realty Plus which concentrates more on the northern part of Onondaga County. I have no idea if this will increase sales - I certainly believe it will or I wouldn't do it - but it will be something that none of the other brokerages have. You heard it here, first!
I am doing an open house at my adorable 12 Paul Street listing in Marcellus tomorrow, 1:00 to 3:00. The price is reduced to $119,900 which means that if you rent a home for $1,200 your monthly mortgage payment (principle, interest, taxes & insurance) would be less. Two weeks ago when I was there the owners surprised me with their own virtual tour on their gorgeous high definition set. It really was mesemerizing, and gives a sense (without voiceover) of what the ads will look like. It will be playing tomorrow, they tell me! Come see!
I really would love to hear thoughts about this new way to get the word out about my listings. Someone mentioned DVRing the show to watch later. I think that will happen a lot. I can see people calling friends and saying "Our house will be on next week!" I know what is coming up in my life for listings and I can't wait to see them on the show - plus my already photogenic listed homes!
So, it all ties together - technology, the new camera, television, doing something that's different in these very different times to sell houses!
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I toured the Seitz Building at the corner of Jordan and Genesee Streets in the village during brokers' open on Tuesday. Molly Elliott, the listing agent from Williams, told me that at the open house the previous Sunday there were 120 people jammed into the one finished condo. Grace Snook, her broker, said it helped to keep her upright, she was so tired.
It's an incredible project. Ten condos in all different sizes, all with good-sized windows and views of one of the main intersections and the lake or the outlet and the renovated Old Stone Mill. Prices range from $550,000 for 1017 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2 baths named "The Sailboat" to $695,000 for 1424 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with a loft called "The Schooner." The largest is 1743 square feet and the smallest is 910 (and I think that includes a 300 sf deck). Four condos have lofts - and views that remind me of France, overlooking the rooftops. But France doesn't have Skaneateles Lake!
Once everything gets in place, there will be an elevator (I almost wrote "lift") and underground parking. We climbed stairs and didn't mind it. Each apartment is unique, with angles and laundry, and light everywhere. The finished - and staged - condo is small and seems so easy to live in. A bedroom doubles as a den, with its own bathroom. The kitchen is hardly a galley, gleaming with granite and stainless steel.
Andy Ramsgard is the architect. He's brought another historic project to Skaneateles.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
There are currently 127 (love that number!) active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. This week 7 "new" ones came on. All of these - I kid you not! - are re-lists, some with modified prices and others simply returning to the market place. They range from a million dollar plus home, non-waterfront, to new construction to village and town homes.
One of these homes is my 3862 Highland Avenue listing. I held an open house last Sunday there, and listened to feedback. The owners and I met on Monday evening to discuss it. We've - and I mean this sincerely, because it is a partnership when I list - have decided to lower the price of the home by $20,000 and re-market it as a great 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home. Not only did I want to showcase it here, naturally, but also to give you a sense of why people choose to re-list a property. You have to listen to the market and respond.
No homes have been marked as contingent this week, although I know there have been showings. One lovely home in the village - also re-listed - has sold and gone directly to pending.
We have 17 closed properties for the year. Now take note of the next facts: two properties closed this past week, one AT the list price and the other, even though it had been on the market about 10 months in all, closed within 5% of the original list price. I tell you - the world is changing!
Last year at this time there were 14 closed properties, about 20% less than currently. The year before (2007) there were 21 in the first quarter of the year. The numbers are also going higher for pricing in the county - $310,000 to $460,000 - as evidenced by the five highest priced homes that closed this past week. Skaneateles still ranks by far the highest, averaging over $500,000 per home.
I attended a seminar today featuring a speaker brought in by Realtor.com. He talked about the number of agents nationwide, and how in 2000 people started going in to real estate because we were on our way to blowing up the bubble. When it burst, the number of agents declined and is still declining. Currently there are 2,721 agents in our multiple listing service. I'll keep an eye on that on occasion. Our market is still strong, remember!
I do believe we have turned a corner. It's time to buy that home to be in it by summer! In case I forgot to mention it, by the way, 3862 Highland Avenue is now $279,000, well under its new assessed value.