Friday, December 31, 2010

Predictions and Resolutions - Plus an Update

Over the past 9 days or so, we had no snow and New York City got it all - as well as Boston and Philadelphia and points in-between. Alex and Rachel came and went uneventfully and we had a marvelous Christmas. The cookies aren't all eaten, but they will be by midnight tonight. Our presents are still scattered around the livingroom, the sweaters I bought for the men taken back and exchanged, and Bob is settled in to read by a just-cleaned hearth while I write.

The update: no new listings - none! - in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. One waterfront was marked "under contract, do not show" (at this time of year, no less!) There simply are no properties marked contingent, either. Two homes closed - one large place recently listed in the mid-$400,000 range and another well under $100,000. That brings us to 74 for the year - but probably not all closings have been entered...the final tally will be next week.

But New Year's Eve is upon us - and so is the need to write predictions and resolutions before the ball drops or the bell tolls or the fireworks sparkle.

I predicted last year that there would be over 90 homes closed in our area...but we fell short of that number. For 2011 I predict again there will be 90 homes closed...I think we can do it!

I resolve to write more. I did enhance my blog with a few pictures and I resolve to do more. I'd like a House of the Week feature, complete with at least one photo. It doesn't have to be one of my listings - it could be anyone's, or even a house not on the market.

I resolve to spend more time exercising and staying fit. I realize the importance of this - not only for fitness' sake but mental health, too. We have a gorgeous lake and a lovely town - I want to walk it often.

I predicted last year that Syracuse football would have a winning season - and by golly they did! The Pinstripe Bowl played yesterday was not just fun to watch for Syracuse fans, but a great game as well. The old days are back - Carter ran almost 200 yards and passed Larry Csonka in the record books. I predict this year will be even better!

I predict that SU basketball will go to the Final Four because they are a team. No superstars, just a team working hard together. Lovely!

I resolve to sell more homes this year than last, both as a buyer's agent and as a listing agent.

I resolve to stay in better contact with everyone. I believe I do an excellent job of this, but it can be better. All it takes is organization and prioritization...and "my people" need to be my priority. Without you my business is not what I want it to be. I don't sell houses - I like to think I sell homes, as gloppy as that might sounds.

I resolve to appreciate every day - the people I meet, the homes I see, the weather I tromp through. I resolve not to rush, to take the time to enjoy this too short life we are given.

Thank you, dear Readers, for another wonderful year of blogging!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - Christmas Edition

How lovely to end on a high note! Christmas is coming and the world outside looks very Christmasy...certainly we may be the snowiest area in the country, but also the prettiest.

There are currently ONLY 119 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. One lovely village 5-bedroom home came on this past week and the agent bravely scheduled a broker's open. It's listed in the mid-$300,000 if you are interested in a last minute gift.

The total number of homes waiting to close is down to 10, and nothing new was marked contingent this week.

But because there are so few waiting, that means that three closed just in time for the new year, bring us to 73 sold and closed for the far! A lake rights property closed around the $200,000 mark, down about 20% from its original price. A pretty village home sold and closed rather rapidly and came in within 10%. The third encompassed a single family home, commercial and as currently used multi-family in the village - between 10 and 20% off the original price. There's no rhyme or reason to this all...just what people are willing to pay and when the sellers are ready to let the homes go.

I know closings at this time of year and they are difficult to bring off - so kudos to those agents, attorneys and banks for getting these closed. Buyers and sellers as well!

A very merry Christmas and happy holiday season is wished to everyone, from my house to yours!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

I learned something new today - that I've always known but every once in a while I need a little refresher.

I went to my dentist on Onondaga Hill, Dr. Randal P. Swartwood, and he worked on my root canal tooth that remarkably was the same tooth I had just broken - hey, that's good news! While I was waiting (I got there early, usually there's no waiting!) I told Gail the receptionist about all; the snow we had. She stopped me cold - "I live in Lafayette," she said. "Oh." She then told me Syracuse had made the big time being featured on Good Morning America - actually the parking lot at the Fairmount Wegman's. You can still see it online through

Anyway, Gail said she couldn't wait to go out her back door and go cross country skiing. It sounded heavenly, and she was determined to do it even if she had four feet on the ground, which she might.

So I went home after going to the office and went out skiing with Boo. (Bob was exhausted from fighting a broken snowblower...) He plowed through the snow on the faint trail that was still there from yesterday's walk. I was able to stand and basically walk on two feet of snow, with another two feet of fresh powder. But on the way back to the house I was able to glide a bit, and on the third and fourth tries it was really a ski trail!

I was tired - my arms and lungs especially. I made lunch - fruit, cheese and crackers - because I wanted something healthy. I didn't do that amount of exercise to put junky stuff into my system...and that's what I learned. The more I do right by me, the more I will continue to do right by me. Hooray for the snow!

Now on to the update....Nothing much happened this past week. Only one "new" listing came on and that was a re-list of an unfinished property which probably seemed like a good idea at the time and now needs someone to take over the project. Nothing new was marked "C", "U", or "P" except properties already in the system and moving along the usual progression.

There was one closing - a lake rights house which started in the $400,000 range closed in the mid-$100,000. I saw it last week and knew there must be a story behind it, so I called my "Person Who Knows Everything" and by golly he did! It was a family matter, as they say, he assured me. The world had not gotten that out of whack!

So here we sit with lots of snow and 69 closed single family homes year-to-date in the Skaneateles area. But it's beautiful out there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snowy Day

I am sitting at my so-called desk watching my dirty white cat Oscar watch the birds at the feeder. Occasionally he makes a sound as if in comment. "Like that junco!" "See the wings on that cardinal?" "I'll remember to stay away from the woodpecker's beak..." Then he winds his way back to me, curls his tail around his body, and waits for me to use the mouse. He likes to pounce, grab my hand and hang on...always a challenge, blogging.

Yes, it is snowing, and as Rachel so aptly put it "You guys are getting KILLED!" Manhattan has had not a lick of snow, she tells me. Well, we have... The weather channel guaranteed us a white Christmas this year. Really.

I wrote the short blog about the bird in December, got 4 of the lines correct but in the wrong order, and forgot to attribute it to Oliver Herford. But then, my version came from my mother.

I said when I started this blog I would write about my life as a Realtor in Skaneateles. I've been so busy this past fall that I haven't had time, and now things have slowed. And it's all a part of the job. After three closings in two days and all the attendant work that comes with getting to the respective tables, it's hard not to stop and re-group.

When I first started, an agent told me that in situations like this it's difficult to "not rest on your laurels." Beware! Three months from now there won't have been any closings, unless I get to work again quickly...60 days (or more!) to close.

But I can take a day or two, especially with this snow, to think about what can be different going forth. "Monitor and adjust" - what did I learn from my very busy summer and fall? What can I do to better balance life and home and work? What did people not understand that could have been explained in a different format? FAQs?

The flakes are heavier and seemingly falling faster. I need to play in the snow, not with Oscar. Boo needs a run before the snow gets too deep....quickly, before lunch...

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Heard....

I heard a bird sing in the dark of December,
We are nearer to Spring than we were in September.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! We are buried here under about 40 inches of snow and I've been enjoying it from afar. Bob has been out skiing, Boo runs because if he stops it will be over his head, and Koko finds places on the deck to pee. I've heard from my cousin in Guam when she saw Brian Williams extolling the woes of Syracuse, and learned that our beautiful landscape reminds people of Denver. Lisa in the office describes it as being in a snow globe and has learned the joys of shoveling. And houses have sold and closed in the past week!

There are currently 119 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service, of which 34 are in the village. Only two "new" ones came on, both re-lists with substantial reductions in price (around 10%). We are getting into that time of year when people do not want to hold onto homes, so what seemed so promising in July is now discounted in December.

There are no new houses marked contingent or under contract and do not show. There is one new pending house, the foreclosure on the lake which was scooped up. It was listed originally with acreage for well over a million, and then more recently about 200K above the current list price. Time to let it go, and it went.

The big news, the good news, is that 5 properties have closed. One is a small house that sold basically at its low $100,000 range list price. Another that will probably be torn down came in at 60% of the original price. New construction in the village stayed in the mid-$400,000s, while a country home with acreage closed within 10% of its original price. A beauty on the lake ended up within striking distance of its multi-million dollar list price!

We now have 68 closed properties for the year, a mark that while less than we all would like is still respectable. There are so many other places in this country where homes are crumbling for lack of ownership, where banks hang on to the foreclosures so as not to flood the market with them. We are lucky - and that luck was paid for by keeping the prices reasonable. Who knows - maybe the higher taxes which keep the prices down served a purpose after all?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

Actually, this will encompass two weeks and as you will see, nothing much happened over the Thanksgiving weekend. Things are slowing down, houses are being taken off the market for the winter, people are settling in for the holiday season.

HOWEVER! I still have buyers looking for homes, and as I've told them, people who put their houses on the market in the winter know that only those truly looking, not thinking about looking but really ready to buy, go out in the winter cold. It's a great time to list - fewer homes for competition, real buyers, and if your home has that cozy, warm feel it can be easily demonstrated. So list, please, so my buyers can buy!

Currently there are 120 active listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service. That's only 120 - the numbers are down. Of these, 35 are in the village and 31 are on the water. Six are new. One is a foreclosure, and a waterfront foreclosure at that but priced to sell around $300,000. Another is a very sweet little village home priced just under that, while one in the country, a to-be-built, came on in the mid-$300,000. Then there's a waterfront re-list of a home previously priced much higher and now in the mid-$400,000 range. And let's not forget another re-list priced in the low $100,000 and located in the town.

And then.....drum roll, please! There's the gorgeous village listing of over four acres right down to the water with the most beautiful of boathouses. The price is over 4 million. This would make it the highest priced property sold in the Skaneateles area through the multiple listing service. What "would"! "Will"make it the highest priced......

One house was marked contingent over the two week period - a just listed home in the country with acreage and character - and listed for over $400,000.

Two homes closed, bringing the total of closed properties to 63 for the year. One was a lovely old home again with character that started close to $700,000 and closed in the low $300,000s. It is just difficult to attract buyers who are concerned about the cost of maintenance and heat, as well as the cost of upgrading an old home, even if it oozes with charm. The other home was smaller, in the town as well, and closed for about 15% under its list price in the mid-$100,000.

There are currently 19 properties under contract - let's get some more closed before the end of the year! I doubt we'll do as well as last year because we are 14 under as of December 1st. At least we are ahead of the 56 in 2008...nowhere near the 93 in 2007. As several recent sales have indicated, there are deals out there that won't come again once the economy turns around. And it will!