Saturday, December 26, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - Christmas Edition

Ho, ho, ho! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah or are still anticipating your holidays!

Alex and Rachel arrived Thursday via Megabus from the City, just an hour or so after I showed my last house before the weekend. Yes, it was Christmas Eve, yes, the owners were most gracious and home, and yes, it was a very worthwhile showing.

As far as Skaneateles is concerned - no really new listings (one waterfront re-list), no contingencies and no new pending sales. Nothing (officially) closed either, so we are still at 77 for the year. That didn't take long!

I did speak with a builder who told me that in the past couple weeks his phone has been ringing off the wall - hooray! I do think the New Year will bring us prosperity.

It was a very prosperous Christmas for us. Rachel loved her Vera Bradley stocking that Intrepid Janet and I found for her. The peppermint bark that Williams Sonoma sells was also a hit. Alex's theme was "blue clothing" this year - and the blue sweater I gave to both him and Bob (different sizes of course!) they promised not to wear at the same time except for Christmas dinner. Bob made cajun shrimp - Price-Chopper has the best, he says.

Bob also did very well by me and my real estate career. I now have a TomTom system that will get me to my destination whether it's Constantia, Oswego or Auburn. (I can hear the cheers from my buyers from here!) He also took pity on me for my visits to empty, unheated houses: I have a heated by battery vest and a heated seat (which I will gladly hand over to clients when they ride with me!)

I am going now to sell a house - yes, vacant and unheated - then returning to make my famous lasagna while watching football with Alex (go Pitt!)

Enjoy! May your day be merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Ho, ho, ho! Now that the snow is here I am off and shopping! I went with a client to find a house for him and his fiancee and then on to Barnes and Noble. Just a lovely way to spend a snowy day!

There are currently 109 active listings in the Skaneateles area as defined by the multiple listing service. Only one listing came on this week and it's a waterfront re-list in the mid-$500,000 range. I checked median list prices - the number is $359,900.

There were no new contingent sales or pending sales this week. Or even closed properties! Bah, humbug!

However! We have the first sale of a condo this year. One of the units in the newly renovated Seitz Building at the corner of Jordan and Genesee has been marked contingent. This is an excellent sign.

Back to median prices since there is so little news. Year-to-date we have had 77 closed properties. The median list price of these was $325,000. The median sales price was $300,000. So "The Bid" for any house was - not should be - under 10% of the list price. The Post-Standard still shows the average sales price to be slightly under $500,000. But in the new year I will check the median price on occasion - remind me! Now go shopping or baking or playing in the snow - it's that holiday time of year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

This and That

Just a few notes before the day catches up with me and I am gone!

Monday is the deadline to comment about the truck situation in Skaneateles. If you want to add your two cents worth, just email

Help needed! Syracuse Stage needs volunteers for several performances of "Little Women." The houses have been great, reports our friend Tammy who is in charge of the volunteers and a myriad of other things, but unlike other productions she needs ushers. When I called to offer her our services (and get to see the play for free) she told me of her plight. If you have some time over the holidays and would like to see a great musical adaptation of a great book for an hour of your time, just call and ask for Tammy: 443-3275.

A team that needs no help these days is Syracuse University's basketball team. If you missed the Florida (8-0 and ranked 10th) game last night you missed an opportunity to see SU in prime form. They won by 12 points, going away. This may be the year Jim Boeheim gets his second championship. They play like a team - unselfish, happy to be together, thrilled with what they can do. They are a pleasure to watch!

Lastly, just a simple comment. I showed houses last weekend - I won't say where or to whom - but during the three hours a theme developed, as it so often does. This was a sad one. In one house that had been emptied of all but a few dresses we found a wheel chair in a closet. In another it was obvious that a dog had been kept cooped up in a room - the hardwoods had obvious damage, the woodwork was shredded. A third had photos upon photos of the son in the family, including one showing that he had passed on as a young man. Another had all the furniture cleared out except in one room - the owner was ready to go, but until the house sold he was stuck there. My client is not going to buy any of these homes, not because of what we found but because they weren't the right home. But I left feeling so sad - and I can't help but wonder if the home evokes sadness how this must harm - even on a subliminal level - the response of the buyer.

Solutions: Clear out the house, paint and refinish where necessary, open the curtains and wash the windows, remove personal items/photos that are not joyous. I don't believe in making a house totally impersonal because I want it to be welcoming. Bright, warm and happy - there's a reason some agents bake chocolate chip cookies right before open houses! It's a process, as I've written before, of letting go, allowing someone else to start fresh in a house that he/she/they can make their own.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Please forgive the tardiness of this update. I've been in Christmas card heaven for the past two days, with a third day coming right up after I finish this. The cards are an annual tradition. I buy them when the Chestnut family goes to the Adirondacks in the fall to celebrate Mrs. C's birthday. The Old Forge Hardware has a great selection, and I can usually get Lang cards with lovely houses. I get to say hello to an old high school friend who owns the store and tradition rolls on! Then sometime in December I sit down and connect with people who have bought or sold or listed with me over the past almost decade. It takes a while, but I enjoy it. I hope others do, too!

In the past I have set up in a little coffee house, now a yarn store, in Elbridge and watched the snow fall as I write cards and drink mochas. I've been to Creekside, too, sitting in the upstairs and seeing people while I write, lick, stamp and seal. This year the task was huge - wonderfully huge - so I've been spread out on the island and table, with a quick run into the village and Chestnut Cottage and the Pomodoros for more cards when I realized I had underestimated. Yesterday I gathered the first lot and got to the post office when it was still closed for its 90 minute lunch break (saves money, but so inconvenient!) Jim took pity on me and opened up - I love small towns! So if you get your card today, please think kindly of this Elbridge postmaster.

There are currently 109 listings in the Skaneateles area of the New York State multiple listing service. Only one is new - a pretty farmhouse in the Marcellus school district on almost three acres and priced in the upper $100,000 range.

There are no new contingent homes and only one pending altogether in the system.

However! We now have 77 closed single family homes so far this year. Three are new reportings. One is a lake rights home priced originally in the mid-$500,000. But that was last winter, and it just closed in the low $400,000. Another lake rights started in the low $300,000 and closed in the mid-$200,000. A lovely new construction but lived in for a couple years home started in the mid-$500,000 and closed there, too. The question is always how much was gained by waiting for the owners' price? Taxes and interest (presumably) and insurance were paid for two years or more. Only the owners know their rationale!

But let's do it! Before the attorneys take their vacations, before the celebrations start for 2010 - let's close enough to make it to 80 for the year. Or more - why not? There are bargains out there!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Back to work again after a marvelous Thanksgiving break! The last few days have been a whirlwind of offers and counter-offers, getting it all down on paper, crossing Ts and dotting Is. And that's okay by me!

Currently there are 110 (I hesitate to say it, but "only 110" is almost on the tip of my fingers) listings out there under the heading of Skaneateles in the New York multiple listing service. Of these, 26 are village homes ranging from a low of $148,000 to a high of 2.9M (not even on the water!) Four new listings came on this week, half of which are re-lists and both of these are in the town. The other two are new to the market and from their descriptions are both charming homes. One is in the village (around $200,000) and the other in the countryside (around $150,000). I predict that both will be sold within the next two months. The price and the apparent condition (but you never know until you see them!) are my reasons. Stay tuned!

There were two new properties sold this past week, both in the town in the high $200,000 and the mid-$100,000 ranges. Both have been on (and off) the market for a couple years.

We now have 74 closed single family homes so far this year. FOUR - count them! - are new. THREE are waterfront properties, all listing and selling above one million dollars and close to their current asking prices. TWO only came on this past year. The ONE non-waterfront closed home sold at the list price of $149,900, and sold very quickly.

Only 29 more days to go in the year - let's send this year out with a bang!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Bliss of Walking!

We went to The City - no, not Syracuse or Auburn - The City over Thanksgiving weekend. Alex and Rachel have a new apartment, a one bedroom, that of course would fit neatly into our living/family room area. But for them it's huge. I remember Mary Tyler Moore wanting four walls around her kitchen; Alex and Rachel wanted a door to the bedroom. They also got more than one closet! Lovely upper east side apartment - third floor, hardwood floors, windows, "quiet" street near Gracie Mansion.

We were there about ten minutes, not including the half hour it took to find a parking spot, when we went "for a walk." First there was lunch at a diner a few blocks away - oh, the pastrami! Then we toured the park surrounding the mansion and on the river. Then we walked - and walked - and walked.

I say it like that, but it wasn't. As the November day softened around us we saw where Rachel teaches and her mother, now retired, coaches other teachers. We went to her gym for a quick stop. We roamed Central Park and Alex's favorite place, The Ramble. Coming out on the west side they showed us Rachel's parents' condo when they stayed in town - the kids' bedroom is larger than the whole place! But that's okay - the price was right - low $300,000. For that you could almost get a new 3 bedroom home in Parcell Woods!

We took a cab home and I realized how far we must have walked. But I didn't care - we had been engaged in the sights and sounds the whole time. I told Bob I wanted to walk like that, but really there was no place. Alex walks home from work on very good days, Rachel walks to work every morning (14 minutes). They walk to dinner, to shows, for coffee and bagels. There is a purpose to their walking. We say that everyone's thin in New York because they walk everywhere and can't afford to eat.

Back at home we can eat! We walk, too, out in the back on the acreage, in the village up West Street. But there's an aimlessness to it, a too-pointed attempt to be healthy, exercise camouflaged. Bob suggested that I make my walks purposeful. Park at Austin Park and walk to the office, carry letters to the Elbridge post office a mile and a half away, walk to Creekside (I'd have to!) instead of driving...

So I wrote the bills early Sunday morning and walked out to post them. I walked past the cows and saw the sheep on the far hills, I used the new sidewalk just being put in by Sylvan Street in the village. I mailed my letters and then came home again up the hill, meeting new neighbors who had just moved in to one of the five houses I passed. Sorry, it wasn't the same!

I meant to park at Austin the next day when I went in to the village, but it was raining, I was in a hurry, and there was a metered space right outside the office. I did get in my walk at the Dome during half time. It felt better, amidst all those people. I was going somewhere, even if it was just around.

Walking is bliss. I am envious of the kids' chance to live in one of the greatest cities of all time when they are young enough to enjoy it. I am also envious of Bernie and Susan who are able to come in from their country home and see shows, stay overnight on a whim. But I also know I am like them. I wouldn't trade my house, the acres and paths, the dogs or the cats, to live in The City. But thank goodness I can go visit!