Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I apologize for the delay - there were pies to be made and houses to be sold. For that I am most thankful!

There are currently 112 listings in the Skaneateles area of the new New York State multiple listing system. Three re-lists came on in the past week: a town listing in the high $200,000 that is a reduction from the last time it was on the market; a fixer-upper in the mid-$300,000 range; and a multi-million dollar waterfront home. But think of the numbers! We have much less inventory!

No new houses were put under contract this week. We now have the choice of "Under Contract, but continue to show", or "Under Contract, do not show". Of course, nothing is closed until it's closed, but the process of showing a house over and over is something to consider, especially around the holidays.

We do have two new closings, however. Hooray! Both are waterfront properties. Both also sold without re-listing in under 6 months. One closed at 75% of its original price of about a million, and the other listed higher and sold higher, too. This brings to 70 the number of homes sold this year with 5 weeks to go. I plan on contributing to this figure as I am sure other agents would like to, also!

So go enjoy a very blessed Thanksgiving. I am so thankful this year for family and friends, and how much they have given me. I don't just mean the recipes - my pumpkin pie is made with eggnog and pecans thanks to Summer and Wendy - or Pat's chocolate chip cookies I've inhaled as we charge after houses in the school district - but the friendships they've brought to my life. And the kids - I get to enjoy them like a grandparent, giving them back when we've bought a house for them. Rachel, Emily and Sarah, Ella, Camren and her sisters, all bring a smile to my face. I get to watch them grow up in their houses - I think of Michael and LeeAnn, Danielle. I am privileged and very, very grateful.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Hooray! The conversion from the old http://syr.mlxchange to the new http://nys.mlxchange has occurred and business goes on as usual for us agents and brokers. Mostly. The conversion brings together all of upstate New York into one site. I used to search as far west a Cayuga County and east to Rome. I now can see Buffalo listings as well as Plattsburgh listings.

Our area is lucky. The system we used to use was the one chosen as the model for the new one, with a few tweaks. We don't have to re-learn how to search for homes or what criteria can be used. We do need to remember to put in the county name and use an "S" before each listing. I'm sure I'll discover more changes as the days go by.

The statistics seem to remain consistent with the old system, if more refined. There are surrently 116 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. Of these, 27 are in the village. Two new listings came on this week, both in the town and both under $200,000. While this number is lower than last week's 128 active listings, the time of year - holidays coming up, snow soon to fly, the school year in full swing - dictates that listings that haven't sold and might not seed to sell would normally come off the market.

There are 6 properties listed as "C" - under contract but continue to show. One new one was marked contingent - a much sought after lake rights property in the village which came on only a month ago. Seven homes are pending closing. The new designation of "U" - under contract do not show - yields no results.

Two properties closed this week. One country house with land closed for about 80% of the original list price, while a small home closed at 90% of its original list price. Both were listed this year.

That brings to 68 the number of homes that have closed in the Skaneateles area. Last year - all of last year - only 66 closed, a mark we reached last week with 50 days still remaining in the year.

I thought I'd look in on the new Syracuse City area designations. Instead of North, East, South and West there are now 26 neighborhoods. Strathmore, Sedgewick, Outer Comstock, Meadowbrook all make sense. Bob knew Skunk City (around the old House of Providence out West Onondaga), but I sure didn't. I was a Westcott neighborhood girl. Altogether we got lost over 5 of the new neighborhoods - and some need better descriptors than the vague "near" adjectives. And Lakefront? Where? Carousel - oops, I mean Destiny! - Mall area?

But in attempting this exercise, I found a very interesting and telling statistic. In Syracuse there are currently 412 active single family homes listed. This year to date there have been 513 closed homes. 412/513. Now compare that with Skaneateles - 116/68 - and you can readily see which is the hotter market. This bears watching - as do the neighborhoods!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Man Caves and for that matter, Woman Caves, too!

The term "man cave" is the current rage in real estate, it seems. I watched an HGTV program that featured several homes with different types of caves while I held open Victory Lane - the high def TV over the fireplace was irresistible!

Within a week I found I was showing man caves all over Skaneateles! The husbands of my clients all wanted some form of retreat, and the wives seemed extremely interested in finding a place that met the man's requirements. And frankly, the man caves we have seen are wonderful!

One is an old barn with a basketball court inside. A serious court, with those incredible high barn walls and of course the hardwood floors. A friend built a court in a pole barn years ago, but this one has much more character and versatility. In the winter it's a garage, and the "men" retreat to the basement and a golf man cave, warmed by the furnace.

Another is again in a barn, but features multi-levels of play: foosball, biliards, a bar, a wood-burning stove, and leather couches for lounging and watching TV. Both of the houses are lovely, but these caves add so much room and give so much privacy. And each was constructed, I would think, with very little ready cash. They are rustic, and meant to be so - antlers (a personal ugh, oh well) are used instead of doorknobs. Air conditioning is provided by spaces between the boards.

Women also have their caves. In my mother's day it was called "the sewing room" and my father and I feared to tred there without permission. A friend gave up her in-town storefront for her own studio on her property. Her carpenter husband created a single room with windows and a front porch, heated it with a wood stove, and Kathy set up her business - antiques, crafts, consignment items, and whatever else she comes upon. You can visit Bittersweet Cottage north of Weedsport November 27th through the 29th, 10 to 5, or by appointment. For directions call 834-6110.

Bob's also working at a house with an adorable Boston terrier who has her own cave, as many dogs do, in her crate. He says she hangs out there most of the day, lounging on blankets or in them, making dog noises.

So while "man caves" are popular and the term new, the need to get away from the world is as old as the hills and not restricted to men or even humans. If I were selling a house, I'd try to find in my staging a way to suggest a play room for adults. I think it would pay off big!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

As the sun beams down on this gorgeous November day we prepare for it to set over the old multiple listing service we've all come to love. (How's that for hyperbole!) I don't know exactly how it will all play out in the next few weeks, but the conversion is next Tuesday. At that point the categories for the different areas will change. For example, a home in the village of Skaneateles will be in a different area than the town's listings. Syracuse will move from north, east, west and south designations to neighborhoods - anyone for Skunk City?

Whatever happens, I know my compilation of facts and figures will somehow be skewed. I hope not, because by comparing numbers to the past we can help to predict the future. If it's as simple as adding the town and village together how lovely that will be! But somehow I doubt it.

There are currently 128 active listings in the Skaneateles area as defined by the multiple listing service we've been using for the past few years. One new/re-list came on - a reduction in price for a home in the town.

Two - hooray! - homes have been marked contingent. One is a mid-$400,000 house with lake rights that started in the $500,000s but has found its buyer at the lower price. The other is a small town listing that has waited patiently through a few reductions.

Although there are no new pending listings, there is a new closed property that came in above list price. Decidedly a fixer-upper - don't roll any marbles on the second floor! - it is one of the lowest priced homes sold this year. This brings to 66 the number of closed single family homes in the area so far this year.

Since it is the last update before the change-over, I thought I'd look at the recent history of Skaneateles, Marcellus, Camillus and Elbridge. Last year at this time we had only 49 closed properties as compared with 87 in 2007, 94 in '06 and 93 in '05. We haven't come back fully yet to the "good old days," but we're at least headed in the right direction.

Marcellus proved to not have the ups and downs of the market. Think of this - with all the economic mayhem that has occurred in the past few years - the town has stayed very, very consistent. between the years 2005 and 2008, the number of closed properties by this date varied between 52 and 55. Honest! This year they reached only 45.

Camillus which seemed to be having major upheavals like Skaneateles had last year has pulled it out. Although not at the high of 2005 when 274 homes had been sold by Veterans' Day, it is now at 230. While a decrease, it is not as bad as the spring numbers might have suggested.

Dear Elbridge, plodding along for years in the mid-40s, has returned to those numbers after a high of 56 last year during tough economic times. The homes are priced lower than the surrounding areas, our coffeehouses have all gone and been replaced by pizza joints, but it alone did very well last year.

I am venturing out today to hopefully write two offers and unfortunately (or not) to pull a sign from a withdrawn property that rented instead of sold. The sun is shining, I have a new front door going in, and Koko is wearing her SU sweater while she's curled at my feet. She will love next week when the new system comes on and I spend many more hours researching for the update.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Halloween came and went, and we had no one come to our house yet again. Every year Bob buys candy and waits patiently for the hordes of youngsters he remembers from his childhood in the city and then at his house on the east side.

We went to our friends' home after a fruitless half hour. They were dressed for the occasion - he as a clown (it's hard to talk to someone with a giant smile painted on his face!) and she as a very pregnant bunny rabbit. Their house and the neighborhood were lit for fun times, kids roamed freely on the quiet street, every once in a while Ben let off a puff of smoke from the smoke machine in his side yard to add to the ambiance. The moon was full. I thanked them for letting Bob have a Halloween with children and gave them half our candy. We ate most of the rest watching the Series, then I asked him to hide the remaining few bars.

Meanwhile, back in the Skaneateles real estate market, 10 homes were expiring. There are currently 130 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service as compared with 143 last week. One "new" home came on, but it is actually a re-list of a lovely 2 bedroom with acreage out in the countryside. (Bet they don't get trick or treaters either!)

A house priced in the mid-$200,000s was sold, or at least marked contingent this past week. When we get the new system, contingent sales will be divided into two groups - 10 under contract, continue to show or 2) under contract, do not show. Hopefully this delineation will help to end some of the confusion. Personally, I think if a home has not had contingencies removed then it really is active, but an accepted offer should be disclosed.

Another house went directly to pending, a lovely watefront home that had dropped a bit in price. It may close before the end of the year to help boost the waterfront numbers.

We now have 65 closed properties this year. A home under $200,000 sold for within 4% of its list price and fairly rapidly. No trick or treaters there, either, I am sure!

With all these houses now off the market, the same existing active houses are being shown over and over. It will be interesting to see which ones sell in the next month, but I believe several will before the end of the year. Or at least be "under contract," in the language of the new multiple listing service due to take effect in a couple weeks. Stay tuned!