MLS Sale, Last 360 days, Ulster County
One thing that is very true about our buyers is that if we weren't producing new homes that fit their criteria, many of them would never have found their refuge in the Catskills. It's not as if 'oh, they chose us over a competing property' - for the most part there aren't any competing properties that meet the demands of our clients (a few more options now than there used to be)- we created the product, the process, and raised the bar high enough from a style, process and product perspective that these folks actually would not find something they wanted to buy in a pretty dismal housing landscape. What makes this important is that without our 300+ homes and 300+ families, spending there 300+ discretionary cash on houses, landscaping, pools, restaurants, gifts, holidays, clothes, beer, food, etc..., that money and accompanying community benefits wouldn't be here. Some for sure - most, spent somewhere else, to the detriment of many a main street.
Similarly, it's not just the cash, it's the investment of time and energy and enthusiasm - attending a Christmas tree lighting, a jazz concert, Narrowsburg film festival, a restaurant opening, a craft brewery, a vineyard, the apple picking, pumpkin buying, Christmas tree excursion - all this added enthusiasm injection of people, family, kids.
When you aren't busy renovating, or being demoralized by the needs of a shitty house you bought on a whim, or being beaten down by the needs of that so-so house, you have a lot of time and energy to explore and celebrate and enjoy the community you just joined. With a smile instead of 'woe is me' my country escape is ruining my life, my relationship, my finances. Birthday parties for the kids instead of contractor meetings, house parties instead of site visits, investment in the community rather than the black whole of renovations.
And that negative experience is what I observed back in 2001, where first time homebuyers (not defined by age but by being city dwellers) being sold a 'this old home' dream and the $30,000 and three month renovation was actually 3 years and $300,000 and a result of an unspoken collusion between realtors and home inspectors.
And maybe the worst salt in the wound - is you couldn't sell it when you wanted to. There literally was the most slothful (expect lots of Costa Rica references as I plan for my trip in March) real estate market anywhere, where if you could sell, regardless of financial hit, you felt fortunate. So the homes below in Ulster County, where some families walked away with $600,000 in their pocket after a 2 or 3 year investment is an extraordinary accomplishment of wealth building, manufactured by Catskill Farms. We have created so much wealth for people - be it town budgets, community restaurants, the homes services industry from property managers to landscapers, pool guys, cleaners and appliances, to a thousand other tranches of economic activity - but some to these recent home sales- where families actually made $500,000 or more on a 2 year investment, now that catches even my attention who is used to making large chunks of change.
So while we fight for our day to day reputation as demands for perfection never match the reality of a home with 3459 moving and inter-related parts, our big picture legacy and impact is pretty hard to accurately put into words or charts or graphs. For instance, in one the homes below, the owner wanted a white brick fireplace which I love. Then when it showed 'soot' a little bit more than a dark stone, she thoughts we should come wipe it clean, repaint it, whatever - because there should we zero smoke residue in the house and/or we should have explained to her this possibility, even though be a white shoe, white pants, white car, white walls, white countertops, white house it's completely known to everyone in the world that white takes more maintenance - even though everyone child and parent in the world knows this truism, she wouldn't stop complaining about it and it dinged our relationship - then they walk away 18 months later, after a bidding war, with a house that put $650,000 in their pocket - I'm sorry, but it's hard to look back at that situation as not ridiculous, but it happens all the time. Balancing the here and now with the long term legacy is tough and to some degree irreconcilable from an emotion vantage - from a business vantage it's simple - people want what they want, from a mental health vantage it's like being clobbered by a mallet every few days.
Not many Catskill Farms new sales in Ulster last year, as we were completely locked out of the county because of land prices that quadrupled. Some people may pay $200k for a piece of land before they build a spec home that will then need to sell for more than $1.2m, but having been doing this for 20 years, it, as Bob Dylan would say, 'it ain't me babe.'
That caused me to take a big risk and buy 70 acres of raw land in Olivebridge, something I'm not keen on doing, and going through a subdivision process. Subdivision processes are long, involved, expensive and in the end, you never know when and if you will exit the process, meaning you could spend a lot of time money and planning with nothing to show for it. I hated to do it, but I hated more to be locked out literally one of the most robust real estate marketplaces in the country. So I rolled the die, got through the process after 14 months (learned a ton), and now have 9 homes under construction and 4 under contract in one of the strongest markets in the country. No risk, no reward.
A few of our sales from last year - resales. It's fun to see how our pictures have developed over the years. Memory lane for sure.
Sold in maybe 2012 as one of our first homes in Ulster. Sold for $895k, we probably sold in 20112 for $350k.
A Barn house with white chimney brick sold for low $500's by us, and resold for over $1m 2 years later. You cannot fake that type of market respect for what we are doing. Famous Barn 27.
Famous Barn 22 in Kerhonkson.
Kerhonkson was once viewed as the undesired step-child of Woodstock area, but I saw the opportunity for low density out of the way but not too much so the first time I found the area. Sold for $500k by us in 2019, resold for $1.2m. Life changing appreciation. Let alone the time spent in the home.
Just looking at the few photos we posted at the time, Wow, what a creative house. If I remember right, this was a home bought when completely finished for around $450,000. Sold for $850k 4 years later. Tell me that didn't change someone's life permanently.
If I remember correctly, this was bought by a young woman with proceeds from a tech startup. Owned it for a few years then pocketed $400k without one single upgrade including bushes and plants.
Funny seeing this Barn trend at that point and time. Lately it's been all about the Ranches.
Love this design. They added a garage studio, finished off the basement then resold a $450k original purchase for $1.35m and a robust bidding war.
1500 sq ft plus a finished basement. They did a great job on the exterior landscaping and walked away with $300k+.
Bought for $500k, sold for $850k. Kerhonkson NY.
Beside renting it for $18k a month during the pandemic, they sold for $1.4m - pocketing nearly $700k.
This house, one of the first in Ulster for us, has resold 4 or 5 times. Beloved each time. Higher price each time.
These last posts have taken a fair amount of time to put together, but was very helpful in accurately examining my current station as lead designer and builder of the Catskills, built over 20 years of endurance in an ever-changing and challenging Catskills landscape.