Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chamber Presentation on Thursday

The monthly meeting of the Skaneateles Chamber will be on the 14th at Mirbeau.  Since this meeting will focus on real estate, Sue Dove has brought together people who know about it.  I am speaking about the market and why people would buy in Skaneateles.  I also want to add why people don't buy here.  I am alotted only about 10 minutes, but I thought I'd write out my thoughts here and then refine them for my brief talk.

First of all, the market has been excellent the past twelve or so months.  Two and three years ago in March there were 104 single family homes on the market.  Now there are only 73.  Those years we had seven closings - this year we have 11, year-to-date.  Those are significant numbers.  Fewer homes lead to less time on the market.

Who buys here?  First of all, waterfront is always strong and the primary reason for about a third of the homes sold each year.  There are now more homes to be sold, plus lots for building.  More camps and lake houses are available as the population ages or investors move on.

The people who buy in the town portion - and I look at all the homes in the Skaneateles School District as contributing to the health and wealth of Skaneateles - are looking for land.  They want acres for their children to play.  Most of my sales have been to people who know the area and want to upgrade their current homes.  Often they came because of a job - WelchAllyn primarily, but the other companies in either Syracuse or Auburn contribute buyers too.  They are families who want the school district.

The people who buy in the Village may also have families, but more and more I am seeing retirees picking up homes.  The Village is an excellent place to retire, and more should be done to promote it as such.  It is safe, quiet, off the beaten track, a destination unto itself.  Electric is low, off-setting the village tax.  There is no condo fee and the homes are different, not tract homes.  Walkability is a huge factor for communities, and Skaneateles has some of the most walkable streets in the country.  My friends who have moved here love the idea that they can go to dinner at the Sherwood and walk home.

There are misconceptions out there about Skaneateles.  The one I hear most is that Skaneateles is too expensive.  I will ask this at the meeting - how many homes closed in Skaneateles in the past 12 months that were listed under $200,000?  If you read this blog, you would know - 30 homes is the answer.   That's about a quarter of the homes sold during that time period.

I am putting together a handout to demonstrate that Skaneateles homes priced under $200,000 are actually less expensive than a Camillus home of the same price.  And both are less expensive than the hard-to-find single family rental.  The reason?  A much lower tax rate.  If a house cost $175,000 in Skaneateles, with a 10% down payment, the monthly payment would be $1,225.  In Camillus, that payment would be $1,500 because taxes are that much higher.

The second misconception that people have who have lived around here is that Skaneateles is so far away from everything.  As we all know, Syracuse is half an hour away, the airport 40 minutes, and Auburn only over a few hills.  How many times have people shown up early, planning for a longer drive to your house?  But for people moving in from out of the area, these commutes are miraculous to them.  They ask to see everything within an hour's drive, and realize they can find it only fifteen minutes away.

The third misconception is that Skaneateles is filled with the Country Club set, and there is no place for "ordinary" people.  Not true, as we all know.  It was only a few years ago that there were mobile homes on Genesee Street.  There is a definite lower economic range represented in the schools and the area.  Those $200,000 homes could be purchased by middle class families.

We do have a lack of diversity.  Although that has changed in the past decade, mostly thanks to WelchAllyn, we have not created enough of a perception of acceptance of diversity.  This is not my area of expertise; I can only report what I hear from people who move into Central New York.

We have a great waterfront community, town and Village.  It is affordable, within easy commuting distances, accessible for walking, and lovely.  It works for diverse groups - grandmothers as well as first time homebuyers, single people and businessmen.  We just need to get the word out!