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Catskills - Sullivan County - Ulster County Real Estate -- Catskill Farms Journal

Old School Real estate blog in the Catskills. Journeys, trial, tribulations, observations and projects of Catskill Farms Founder Chuck Petersheim. Since 2002, Catskill Farms has designed, built, and sold over 250 homes in the Hills, investing over $100m and introducing thousands to the areas we serve. Farms, Barns, Moderns, Cottages and Minis - a design portfolio which has something for everyone.

August 19, 2023

The homes we build -

3 homes we are building for others in the pay as you go process (they own the land).  2 homes we are building on contract where we get paid at the end after a level of collaboration between builder and client (I own the land).  And 8 homes being built on spec - meaning, on my dime, with no buyer lined up yet.  It’s a pretty good mix, made all the better (meaning low risk) since I’m able to now self-finance these spec homes - since let’s be honest, 10% commercial lending rates would eat up your profits pretty quick, and eat up your cash flow even quicker.

We are building in Olivebridge (4 currently), Narrowsburg (5 currently), North Branch (1), Forestburgh (2), Copake (1).

We have 2 homes finished that will sell next week, and we have another client-owned that will finish up here in a week or two.

Fun sponsored Native magazine article written by my friend Brian Mahoney - Navigating Uncertainty.

Motoring right along, a little too fast for our administrative infrastructure at the moment, but since I built this machine from the ground up, I can stress its parts and know when to throttle up and throttle down, taking it into the red rpm’s and easing out of them.  There are a lot of small business who know their business like I do, and then there are a lot who don’t, who have delegated important facets of the business to a new employee and have little idea of what they are doing (mostly in book-keeping).  Dangerous.  For me, as I spend Saturday morning reviewing profit/loss statements, balances sheets, basis statements, I can spot an errant number or entry without even much effort, just cause it doesn’t make sense at the moment - I make a note, we dig into it the next week, and wallah, most times we find a minor book-keeping mistake where a number is wrong, in the wrong place, etc…    

It’s being written about a lot, but I’m starting to feel it first hand, and that is the aging out of the construction professional.  A lot of my partners - my cleaner, my kitchen designer, cabinet installer, plumber etc… right on down the line, are getting older.  Christ, I’ve been at this 20 years, so partners that were 45 when I got started are mid-60’s.    Health issues, slowing down, tech issues, etc…  Cancer, knee issues, shoulder issues, you name it. It’s a concern.  And there is a deficiency of people coming into the industry - a very well-paid industry, with no need for crippling college debt, will absolutely pay you on the job while you train.  Where this leads us - this deficiency of building industry employees - I’m not sure, but it’s not good, since home building and construction is a fundamental part of our economy.

It’s weird, coming from a lower middle class background (and that actually might be an exaggeration) to see some stat the other day - some random figure about retirement savings, or net worth, or something, and see I now fall in the .1% of some of these segments.  Not 1%.  But .1%.  Fascinating since just 16 years ago I would have been in the .1% of people most likely to go bankrupt that week and not have a pot to piss in and half to start over at at age 36 with not a whole lot tangible to show for it.

Somebody's very real first world problem, with the boot on the car - interestingly, the arrogance of the parking was eye-opening, it was clearly NOT a parking spot-

Another thing that is fascinating are all the high-net worth individuals I work with - I don’t mean the clients - I mean the tradesmen.  The bluejeans and pickup set - the 12 hour a day, 6 days a week for decades set.  The all weather set.  The got a problem I got a solution, a lot of times using big machines set.  The millionaire next door set.  The started from scratch set.  The weathered the hard times and kept at it set. The can’t keep them down set.  The type that built America set.  It’s a privilege and honor to lead this set of hard-working Americans, each day.

You hear a lot about AI taking over the world, but I’m just having a hard time squaring that imminent threat with my phones voice text unable to decipher the most basic patterns of my speech, or pick up on industry jargon, to make basic corrections.   Literally the stupidest app in terms of understanding learning - clearly the texting apps (what’s app, facebook, apple text) are not using AI for improving text corrections.  I can change the same thing 100 times in a text - say one of our jobs is named A4 - and still the the app can never realized that A4 is not ‘a for’ - happens over and over.  Seems like there is a disconnect if AI is so powerful.

The debate over the value of homeownership rages.  Owning a home isn’t cheap.  And it’s return on investment when you add up the taxes, maintenance, improvement, mortgage interest is not real great.   I think what it does however, is force a person to make a monthly and irrevocable contribution to a long term asset, so while the raw appreciation of value may be debatable, the pot of equity/money after 10, 20, 30 years is real.  But all in all, as a wealth building tool, it’s not that great, except that otherwise, people would piss away and spend instead of contributing to paying off a large sustainable asset.

High School football season has started, and my QB 9 grader has a passion for the game. I like that he has the talent for the QB spot - he's not a multi-sport gifted athlete, but he has always had a knack for throwing the pigskin, and loves the game. I like that he chose the toughest position on the field - he will have lots of failure, and there is nothing better for anyone than failing - big or small - failure is the key to life, since its where all the lessons come from that you can't shake off real quick. It's where the strength comes from. Most failure you have to work out on your own - no words or condolences really help that much. I still fail 5x a week at something or another - failures a good friend, who keeps me honest, keeps me focused and keeps me from thinking I know too much, which is the most dangerous thing ever in business.

I constantly remind myself that for most part I'm an alien creature to most people around me - I'm very comfortable with life-altering risk and uncertainty inhabiting every corner of my life, and I've experienced failure on a grand and constant basis for 20 years. Walking around with that type of 'life lens' creates a life perspective that is hard to relate to if limiting risk and failure is your main track in life, which for better and worse, is most of us.

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