Thursday, January 28, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

I am not going to push myself to always write on the day of the week for which I report the update. In that way I won't have any after dinner "got to get it done" updates, but a thoughtful presentation (I hope!). This update will refer to the past week, that being January 20th through the 27th, Wednesday to Wednesday.

There are currently 101 active listings in the Skaneateles area as defined by the multiple listing service. Five new properties - well, sort of - came on this past week. Two are re-lists, a small house in the village and a ranch just outside. One of the new properties is in the high $200,000 and has lake rights just outside the village.

The other two properties are admittedly my own listings. The larger one has 50 acres, a 3,000 sf house overlooking the lake, and 153 feet of waterfront down below. Contained within this is a separately deeded 75 feet of waterfront and a two acre building lot with lakeviews. The second listing does not contain the waterfront lot, just the pie-shaped lot that is attached to the 50 acres. The overall price is $999,900, the waterfront lot alone is $174,900, and the acreage/house/lot/pie-shaped waterfront is $849,000. Just had to tell you!

There are no new contingent sales, pending or closed single family homes this week. And yes, this means there hasn't been a sale in the Skaneateles area this year so far. DO NOT PANIC! It is early and snowy and we are not alone, as we have been in the past while other areas sold.

In Onondaga County there are currently 1,933 active listings and only 122 sales year-to-date. The median price was a respectable $139,900. By comparison, there are 393 active listings in Cayuga County and 15 closed properties year-to-date. Their median price is $100,000 which is tremendous for the area. I have been showing properties much more in the County and I know that things are selling, and selling for bhigher prices than in the past.

If you saw the Post-Standard last Sunday, specifically the Home Page, you would have noticed the lack of sales. But that won't last! I was holding open my new listing on Snowberry in Scenic Meadow and there must have been 10 open houses that day with wonderful turnout. The corner of Ike Dixon and Scenic Drive was filled with signs. I started early and stayed an extra 45 minutes because people kept coming!

I plan to keep an eye on the counties as a whole. The new system that we use makes it much easier to do so, and with the number of listings hovering around 2,000 for Onondaga it will be easy to monitor. Now, I am going to show some houses and sell one!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mike Hart, et. al.

This is one of those sports weekends that makes Syracuse the place to be. I've loved it since I was a kid and walked over to Manley Field House with my friends to watch Jim Boeheim play ball with his friend Dave Bing. Now I enjoy the walk in to the Dome to watch him coach.

We went to the Marquette-SU game Saturday, two of over 29,000 fans gathered for the event. It's amazing to witness - no other basketball house comes close to the Dome and its people. From where we sat we could see Bob's cousin Mike with his orange towel under the basket, and see that he brought Aunt Joanne (even though she wore pink, we'll still claim her!) And we were far up, next to "311 Heaven." What a great place to go on a Saturday!

Today Mike Hart suits up to play with the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC championship and a chance to go to the Super Bowl. For newcomers to the area, Mike played for tiny Onondaga Central and broke all records (I swear!) for high school running backs in New York State. We watched him for years, then rooted for him when he went to Michigan. His presense was felt there, too, as a team leader and inspirational player.

Last year he had his NFL chance with the Colts who pass more than they run. He got hurt and had to sit it out. This year he got cut, but then reinstated and saw action the last few weeks. He's small - 5'9" (early in the morning) and now bulked to 209 pounds, so they say. He's torn ligaments and sprained ankles, but he gives over 100 per cent. He's the reason to root for the Colts today if you're from Syracuse.

Tomorrow Georgetown comes to play in the Dome. The expectation is over 33,000 rabid fans will scream for the #5 (in the country) Syracuse team against what will probably be the #10 Georgetown team. It will truly be "The Loudhouse." Derrick Coleman will be there under the basket, Cousin Mike will wave his towel, we will yell whether we're there or not. It will be mayhem - how much fun is that! It will probably also be a good game, no matter who wins (but we will of course!)

Somewhere Mike Hart will watch it, probably resting whatever aches and getting ready for the Super Bowl, eager to get in the game. Go Orange!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

"The Weekly Update." Hmm. I didn't start out this year with a weekly update, or any update for that matter, except for the list of homes that closed at the end of last year. I did that purposefully because I was feeling as if the weekly update was getting stale, and compulsory. I didn't like that. But as I go through the listings and sales, I am reinvigorated. I do love those statistics that tell the story! I also like being right on top of things, knowing my market. A weekly update forces me to learn. Kind of like weighing myself every day - which I'm not doing either. Monitor and adjust - maybe I just have to make it more interesting to me!

Currently there are 95 active listings in the Skaneateles area. Last year at this time there were 121 - a significant difference! Of the 121, 34 were waterfront. This year there are 23 identified as such. I want to believe that with the reduction of inventory the sales will increase. This is a great sign! The listings range in price from $108,000 to 2.9M (on the water, of course!)

Since the beginning of the year, 8 new listings have come on the market. Three of these are re-lists, and the others are totally new, or new enough to be considered not a re-list.

There are 10 homes marked contingent or pending. Four of these are new since the beginning of the year - and all are village properties, interestingly enough. Of the 95 current active listings, 22 are in the village.

Sorry - we have no closings yet, and I do mean YET! I look forward to a fast and furious year of sales, sales, and more sales. We are due!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I toured a home in the Skaneateles township right outside the village. I had seen it online many, many times, had people call me and ask about it, but I had never been inside.

The name of the home was originally Greystone. It commands 3.5 acres on Franklin Street Road and was built in 1850 by the owner of the Sherwood Inn. It is now part of an estate - the gentleman who lived there bought it in 1975.

It needs work, of course. Someone put on an addition in the mid-1960s and it looks like it was put on in the mid-1960s. But the main part of the house - amazing!

The exterior is lovely grey stone as is the foundation. It has marvelous gingerbread coming off the eaves to give it a fairy tale appearance - not my words, but my buyer's. Trees and bushes have overgrown the entrance and the floor to ceiling windows. There probably was a circular drive up from the road for carriages to drop people off at the front door.

Inside the ceilings are high - 12 or 13 feet. Wallpaper and plaster have had water issues over the years, but the woodwork is in excellent shape. Our tour guide, the list agent, said the wood is either butternut or chestnut. The floors are hardwood of course and look quite good for being over 150 years old.

I commented on the lack of fireplaces and the list agent said it was heated by steam, even from the beginning. The one large fireplace is coal-burning, she said. There are ample radiators throughout the house and despite temperatures in the 30s we were warm.

Upstairs there are four solid corner rooms each with closets, one a walk-through. There are two full baths with one added into what was probably an old closet. The water evidence downstairs came from them, most likely. Yes, work to be done.

We attempted to pull down the attic stairs but got jittery with too recent viewings of Christmas Vacation. The agent said there's a full attic, too - how much fun if we could get to it!

The addition brings in another bedroom and full bath, accessible to the kitchen by a spiral staircase. Was there an original part for servant's quarters as I've seen in other homes in the village? The addition looks "new" and unfortunately takes away from the beauty of the house. Plans do exist for tying it all together with a stone facade and more gingerbread. The same (with a lot of money, I am sure!) should be considered for the three car carriage house/garage.

A three season porch was added for the most recent owner, south-facing, and on a day like today when the sun shines brilliantly I can imagine sitting there away from the wind and enjoying a good book. The exterior stonework forms one of the walls.

Looking out from the front windows you see fields and hills. In the rear there is a huge yard and then trees. A split rail fence in the front defines the property from the road.

According to the agent, this house has been cited by the Historical Society as one deserving preservation. Amen!

The current asking price is $400,000 for the 3.5 acres, 4500 sf house, 3 car garage in the Town of Skaneateles. Call me! The estate would like to see a family buy it, and I can imagine celebrations in the renovated home with cars pulling up to the front door, passengers emerging with long dresses and top hats, sweeping into the house lit up for the occasion. I see children sliding down the back slope, pestering parents in the enlarged kitchen, hanging off the deck. Great grandpa snoozes in the sun in the all-season room, wrapped in red plaid blankets. Greystone is alive again!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Closed in Skaneateles - The Fourth Twenty

It felt like forever, but the last 90 days produced the last 20 closings of 2009. I like the symmetry of it all - 80 closings in all, about 20 per quarter - nice! This year let's try for at least 25 per quarter, and maybe I'll write the blog that way to keep the comparison's clear.

Here they are, this time in alphabetical order:

1636 Amerman Road $2,200,000

1043 Butters Farm Lane $535,000

Lot 12 Calemad Drive $425,000

3205 East Lake Road $900,000

1842 East Lake Road/Route 41 $71,000

2809 East Lake Road $750,000

3167 East Lake Road $1,425,000

88 West Elizabeth Street $222,500

6 Fennell Street $145,000

1562 Heifer Road $225,000

4090 Jordan Road $280,000

4141 Jordan Road $80,500

3094 West Lake Road $260,000

3052 East Lake Road $185,000

16 Lakeview Circle $425,000

20 Leitch $607,500

3830 State Street $108,000

1334 Stump Road $80,000

1905 Stump Road $149,900

2008 West Lake Road $1,750,000

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Yearly Update

I love statistics! They tell stories and paint pictures and always surprise me!

In 2009 there were 80 single family homes closed in the area of Skaneateles as defined by the multiple listing service. Three new ones were processed since the last weekly update: a lovely, immaculate home in the village that sold in the low $200,000 range fairly rapidly, a very small (600sf) but adorable house that found its price in the low $100,000, and new construction in the low $400,000 just outside the town but in the school district.

The lowest priced home sold in Skaneateles went for $60,000 and was of "modular" construction. The highest was 2.2 million dollars of waterfront at the southern end of the lake - great land and a gorgeous home. The median price was $325,000. In 2008 the number was $415,000; in 2007 it was $315,000, close to the current median.

There were no condominium closings this year and only one multi-family closing.

Five lots closed. The most interesting was 2.87 acres of village land for $600,000 - you can watch the new house being built there now! The low end was $180,000 for lakeview and almost 8 acres actually in Spafford.

Of the single family homes that closed, 15 were true waterfront properties, making this 18% of total sales. Last year the number was 30%, and the year before slightly under 20%. I suppose this speaks more to the lack of sales in 2008 of all properties, because only 66 homes total closed that year. The lowest priced waterfront was $360,000 and the highest the 2.2 million home. The median price of waterfront was $900,000, a very respectable number.

The surprising number to come out of this was in reference to village sales. Again, 30% of the homes sold in 2008 were village homes. In 2007 the percentage was 40%. This year there were 27 homes sold or about 35%. I would have thought less - but then, village property is usually a "good buy," in my opinion. Current active listings of village homes stands at 26 - a great sign for sellers in 2010!

Only 4 new construction homes were sold in the entire year. In some ways this is surprising, because there are some great houses to be built - I can say this because I just sold one!

I thought rentals would be up and they were. This year 34 homes/apartments listed in the MLS were leased. Last year there were 36, a sign of the times. In 2007 only 17 were leased; I always thought that it was easier to buy than to rent but this seems to have changed. More people are renting to make ends meet, fewer people feel confident enough to buy.


Waterfront will bounce back and take 30% of the closed listings this year.

New construction will remain tepid.

The median price will remain about $325,000.

Skaneateles will continue to be a showplace, a destination for weddings and vacations, and a marvelous place to live!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Showings

Here's a challenge!

The world doesn't stop spinning, especially in Central New York, just because of a little snow. Over the weekend I swear we got two feet of snow - Bob had the snowblower out three times and there are two feet built up on the table on the deck. I had several showings of houses scheduled.

Except for the treacherous roads which prevented some people from making the showings, they went well.

I pulled up to the first house a few minutes early, knowing it was vacant and could be a problem. Equipped with a hat, gloves, jeans and a warm jacket I pulled the blue shovel I keep for occasions like these out of the Scion and got to work. Within a few minutes I had a path shoveled right to the door. The only issue was that the shoveling uncovered ice beneath and exposed it, but it didn't expose the uneven pavement. We worked around it.

I was very pleased to find that the house was heated, very pleased! So many of the vacant houses are winterized - I stood in one frozen to my core last week. (Of course, that one didn't even have a heat source. Once an owner moves out the propane tank that was "leased" is removed.) During the first showing it was colder inside than outside. And damp with no dehumidifier running either.

This year I have my electrified vest, but that stops heating after a few hours. And it doesn't heat my nose. Buyers don't generally come prepared to stand around in freezers, either.

I urge every Realtor who has a vacant property over these cold months to plow the driveway, have the walkway shoveled to the door and salted if need be, and keep the house heated to at least 60 degrees. Winterize if you must - frozen pipes are not a selling point - but leave a few lights burning or on timers. I believe that the longer a buyer remains in a house, the better the chances are that he/she will buy it. And it's better for the house, too. (Not to mention the Realtor so kindly showing the property, and the buyers willing to risk life and limb to see it....)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Predictions and Resolutions - 2010

Last year I wrote about what I thought would happen and what I resolved to do as it related to real estate, and such. The such included Alex and Rachel's wedding - and no, it wasn't sunny and I didn't wear high heeled sandals. The sun came out, however, exactly when Alex crushed the glass at the end of the ceremony. No one could have predicted that! I did cry - it was a wedding! Rachel was - and is - beautiful.

Other predictions came to pass. There were never more than 150 listings of single family homes in the Skaneateles area at one time. We did close somewhere around 80 - the yearly update will be finalized next week at some time when all the closings are in. I had said 80 to 85 - and I'm impressed with myself!

I resolved to separate my finances and I did, and will continue the process with more refinement this year. I did not sell everything I listed, and in spite of it being a good year it was not a positive listing year for me. I do believe many agents could say the same thing, but I only have control over my own efforts - not the economy, not the price points, and seldom the buyers' wills. I served more as a buyer's agent this year.

I predict that next year will continue to be a buyer's market, with great deals out there.

I resolve to sell more houses in 2010 than I did in 2009.

I predict that between 90 and 95 homes will sell next year in the Skaneateles area. I will go out on a farther limb by saying the breakdown will be 20% waterfront, 10% new construction, and the rest existing homes. The median price will be $350,000, similar to this year.

I predict that SU football will have a winning season (wrong about that last year!) and SU basketball will go to the Final Four (again wrong last year but so much better chance for it this year!)

It will be Indianapolis and the Eagles in the Super Bowl (I can dream, can't I?) Mike Hart will score the winning touchdown.

I resolve to work extremely hard selling and buying real estate with my clients. When I think back on the last year I am so pleased that I met so many wonderful people and I can't imagine what life was like before I knew them!

I finally resolve to blog more and to enhance this blog. I didn't meet my goal of three blogs per week, but I'd like to reset it and try again. I sincerely hope my loyal readers will continue with me on this adventure. They - you - are much appreciated!