Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alternate Project

If you have actually met me, you know real estate isn't my only love - I also write. If you haven't met me, you may have figured it out as I continue to transfer thoughts to blog as though it matters.

It should.

In the back of my mind, I've been slowly watching the seed of an idea, waiting to see if it grows.  And I do mean slowly - it started back in 2008. That's when I started my first blog, Everyday People.

It started with outrage and fear - I was watching a major meltdown of our economic system, the disintegration of our middle class suppositions, and the future resembled nothing so much as medieval feudalism.  I began to think of the majority of us as serfs - and the deeper I looked, the truer it seemed.

My outrage cooled, as most hot emotions tend to eventually do.  I grew discouraged. I felt like it was pointless to keep talking or writing. I grew quiet. I decided it didn't matter.

It does.

I am no longer angry. I'm determined. And I know what I'm going to do about it.  The seed that I discovered five years ago is sprouting.

People's stories are what matter and I'm going to tell them.

We work in a world that bears very little resemblance to the world I grew up in. The sixties and seventies were times of huge transition, and the nineties took us light years ahead with the advent of the personal computer. 

We have to work - the cost of living has skyrocketed and our incomes have not.  But we can't find work. Or we have to make our own work.

I am talking to working people in the US, people from everywhere.  I am talking to people who are working four jobs and people who cannot find one. I am talking to people at the top of their professions and people whose profession has vanished.

I am going to share their stories on my Everyday People blog.  I am sure I am not the only person doing this. There are even other projects with similar names. That's okay. No one will talk to the same people as I do, no one will hear the same stories I hear.  They all need to be heard.

Time is my reluctant partner and my problem; there is limited time available to collect these interviews and to write these posts.  I am busy working, too.  But I have decided this matters. I will make time for it and I will do it.

I will continue to post here when something strikes me, but most of my writing energy is going to go to my blog. I hope you'll stop by and comment if you feel the urge.

I have two children, both grown, both struggling to make ends meet in this crazy new world. Being smart and educated, even connected, isn't enough. I feel like I misled them. I think there's an entire generation wondering what happened to their shot at the American Dream.

We all want to feel like we're doing something that matters. This is my project. I hope it contributes to making a difference.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Let's say you have to decide right now - what do you want for dinner tonight?
Quick - what'll it be? If you're like me, you can't do it.

My brain goes into panic mode.
I love sweet potato burritos! 

 But that's kind of heavy. Fruit maybe?

Fruit's great. But what about pad thai? I love pad thai.
 But that's kind of hot. Maybe it's too hot for hot food.  

Blah blah blah. I could go on for hours and still not make a decision.

So I have absolutely no room to say a thing about people who have trouble making a decision about buying a house. It's a whole lot more of a complicated (and long-term) choice than what you're going to have for dinner.


IF you have decided you're going to buy a house, and you WANT to buy a house, at some point I guess you have to decide what house you are going to buy. 

The problem is, we all want the perfect house.  And I haven't seen it yet.  Maybe the location's perfect, the schools are great, the commute to work is ideal and the house is just the right size.  It probably needs work.

Or if it doesn't need work, maybe the rooms are too small.

Or it doesn't have a garage.

Or it has a pool (or it doesn't).

Or it's not in the town you wanted.

The trick is to find the place that has imperfections that don't make you crazy.

The house I loved best was a mess - an old farmhouse we redid slowly from top to bottom. I've never worked harder. It was totally worth it. It was the worst house on a beautiful old tree-lined street. It was pure joy to make it shine again.That house loved us as much as we loved it. I was pretty sure I'd made a big mistake as soon as we agreed to sell it.

The house I disliked most was great on paper. 

Big rooms, gorgeous spot near a stream, lots of land and privacy. Nothing I did ever made that house feel like home. I knocked myself out and got nowhere. Selling it was a relief.

I found my dream cottage alongside a winding country road and spent a blissful winter there.  With spring, I discovered that my scenic road drew motorcyles by the dozens...all day long. I was serenaded by roaring Harleys from breakfast to sunset.

 I left it with equal parts regret and relief. But leaving prevented me from laying down in the middle of the road in protest...probably a good thing. No one would have heard me scream.

I've been showing houses lately to two kinds of clients - the ones who know what they want the second they see it and go after it, and the ones who just can't decide what they can live with. Those second ones are waiting for the perfect house. I suspect they'll be looking for quite a while.

I suggest they make a pro and con list for every house that might be a likely candidate.  Weigh it all logically. Then I tell them to go to bed and fall asleep imagining they're going to wake up in that house.  How did it feel?  If they can't get to sleep because of a feeling of dread, chances are that's not their house.

But if it feels comfortable, a bit like coming home, they may have found their imperfectly perfect match.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seventeen Year Buyers

Bugs creep me out a little.  I'm sorry. They just do. But that crazy infestation of seventeen year locusts seemed to coincide with some strange wave of home buying, so I had to find a slightly not-creepy picture of the little devils. I wouldn't want to wake up and see those eyes too close to me, just the same.


As the locusts emerged from their holes where they'd been waiting for almost twenty years, mortgage rates started to creep up. And suddenly would-be buyers who've been waiting for years also began to flood our offices.

It got busy after February. It even started back in the Hurricane Sandy-aftermath.  But this is just insane.

The locusts lined the banks of the Hudson, buzzing so loudly I couldn't hear myself think as I crossed the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge. My email and my phone started buzzing, too.  I figured things would get busy, but I really had no clue.

Every single day, I'm showing homes to at least two different clients. Seven days a week. Are they buying? They are.  They're determined to get a steal, and the days of the steal may be gone already. Sellers can hear those buyers coming, and they know what rising interest rates mean. Many of them have already dropped the price of their homes past the point of comfort, so buyers expecting to pay 20% less than asking price are getting a rude awakening...sellers are countering those offers with numbers that look a lot like asking price.

Great properties, rare properties, like an in-town Woodstock stone cottage, get snapped up within a couple of days, often after a heated bidding war. And days later, agents for buyers who missed their chance call, wondering if perhaps there's still a chance their buyer can get a bid in.

Remarkable properties, like this great retail space along Rt 28 just three miles west of Woodstock, have been for sale for awhile. But with all the summer traffic, the buzz about the new rail trails along the Ashokan Reservoir, and a great house for the owner or a tenant tucked back behind the trees on parklike grounds next door, this place is going to sell.

Now if I can just find a buyer for that adorable little 1780s cottage I like outside of Woodstock!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Real Estate Recovery

Are you buying the rumors of a housing recovery?  This old house right here has made a believer out of me.

It's a fascinating place - a real Arts and Crafts gem (though a project) off Route 28 heading into the mountains - and it's been for sale for a long time. I remember wondering about it several years ago when I first moved back to the Catskills.

It's back on the market and guess what?  There are multiple offers.

If you've been reading this blog awhile (and if you have, I apologize I check in so infrequently. I've been busy writing for The Upstater  and selling properties) you may remember an old post where I described a wonderful, empty stone cottage in Woodstock that tugged at my heartstrings. I'm told there's a buyer - someone just waiting for the corporation that now owns it to get all the paperwork in order. 

There's a one-story fixer upper in Woodstock that I showed last week.  It's already got an offer.

Houses are getting snapped up after languishing on the market for many months. And many of the buyers are paying cash.

Some of those investors are my clients, and they tell me they're looking for promising properties where their money will bring them an eventual return.

I just listed a gorgeous 3 story historic storefront in uptown Kingston - a very hot area indeed.  The retail space is expansive - soaring ceilings and even a small catering area in the back.

  Upstairs is a gorgeous 3 BR loft-style apartment and on the top floor is magnificent studio space with a huge bedroom and another bath.
Everything's in great shape - even the basement! Will it sell?  You bet it will.

Just the sheer number of people who are interested in a sweet Woodstock cottage

or the shift in the kinds of people who walk through the office door...from casual browser to serious buyer ... tells me the market has shifted.  And now that interest rates are creeping up, I suspect it's only going to get busier.

Are you thinking about buying? Has your thinking changed in the past few months?

I'll tell you a secret - I'm starting to think about it, too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Price It Tight

Price is the absolute hardest part about putting your property on the market.

I previewed more than ten houses today - only two were priced close to what they'll probably sell for.

I spoke with a prospective client last night who was emphatic.  "Don't tell me what other properties are selling for around here.  I don't want to hear about comps.  This place is one of a kind. If the right person comes along, it'll sell."

I've listed properties where the owners admitted they were pricing far higher than they'd probably get.
Hell, I've done it myself with my own home.

It's not greed - it's that conviction that all the love and money you've sunk into the place is worth something, and you should get some of it back.

What I learned in selling my own place is that the bottom line comes down to a simple question - how badly do you want or need to sell?

If, like my client with the one of a kind place, you don't care if you sell or not, then pricing realistically isn't important to you.

But if you're ready to move on, or if you HAVE to move on, then the day will come when you are ready to hear the truth.  You'll ask for it.

"Okay.  How much do you really think this place will sell for?"

Don't take the answer personally. It's not about you, or your great house, or all the great things you've done with it.  It's what the market will bear. It's what someone will be willing to pay in this market, right now. And if that price is okay with you, if you'd rather move on than sit still waiting for that dream client who hasn't arrived yet, then put your price close to that and watch the swarms of buyers descend.

Start packing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Puppy Power

Meet Violet Wiggins.  She joined our family almost three weeks ago.  It's been remarked that upstate dogs live better than most city residents, and that may well be true. But Mrs. Wiggins had a rough start and deserves a little coddling.  She was picked up, scared and lost, on a back road in Arkansas.

The vet, after examining her, suspects that she got dumped as soon as she had her first heat. The shelter here in NY guesstimated her age at two, but the vet says nope - that's a yearling. She's just a puppy.

She's a very, very well behaved puppy and far calmer than I have any right to expect from such a young dog.  So I bring her with me to the office.

I'm not alone in this - our broker has a very spoiled, adorable Maltese who comes along with her when she is in the office. Another salesperson has a Lab/Boxer cross with the most soulful face ever and a wagging tail that can knock down a chair. Violet is a bit unsure, as she is with most new things, and spends most of her time sleeping under my desk on my feet. But she does come out and greet new people, sitting at their feet and waiting to be petted.

Clients, so far, seem to love a dog in the office.  And all the dogs enjoy visitors.  Many clients walk in with their own dogs in tow.  There sometimes seem to be as many dogs on the streets of Woodstock as there are people.  So Violet's landed in a pretty good place.

But not everyone approves.  Some colleagues who don't have dogs aren't pleased by our dog-friendly office policy.  They're not scheduled to be in the office (I would leave Violet home out of respect for their working hours if they were) but they stop in and their disapproval is clear.

So I'm wondering - what do most people think about well-behaved dogs in the workplace?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Real Estate Agents Are Happier In Their Work Than You

  A friend and client sent me a link to an  article that listed the five happiest and least happy jobs rated by worker satisfaction polls.

Associate attorney topped the misery poll...and real estate sales people ranked the happiest in their work.

She said that meant we were both on the right track - I, having given up a lucrative government communications job to sell real estate, while she makes plans to leave a career in law to become a shop owner.

Strangely, I think this poll is right. And it's strange because today I had what any sane person would consider a stupid, wasted day.

I woke up early as someone wanted to show a listing of mine at ten ayem, then another agent wanted to show it forty five minutes later.  But the seller hadn't gotten back to me about that first appointment, so it still wasn't confirmed.

At eight, the buyer's agent called to see what was going on.  By eight thirty I'd reached the seller, who needed more time to get ready and asked that we turn down that first appointment.


The second showing arrived half an hour late. I sat in the seller's home waiting, playing Fruit Ninja (thank you, Cullen - without you it would have been Angry Birds).

Half an hour later they were gone and I had a couple of hours to kill until the day's big event - a "major music personality" was arriving at 2 PM to look at my amazing $2.5M listing and both the owner and I would be there to help explain why (and how) this luxury home is off-grid.

Who was this celebrity? I can't tell you. The other agent wouldn't say.

By 3 PM, the owner and I were dying to know who it was so we knew who to scold.  The agent said she wrote, she phoned, she texted. She got no response. And she had to apologize to three agents and three sellers for a client who never showed up.

That doesn't sound like fun at all, does it?

But in fact, my seller and I had a fine time, chatted about the state of the world, the sorry reality of our chemically-laced food supply, his dreams to travel again versus his desire to be a happy hermit. I got to spend an hour or more in one of the loveliest spots I know.

The owner was understanding about the no-show and said he is never surprised by such things.

So instead of a miserable hour, we talked, promised to see each other again in a couple of days when CBS comes to do a video feature on his home for Earth Day, and I came home to put in a couple of hours doing some spring yardwork.

I worked much of the day and I made no money. I suppose that's most people's definition of a bad day. But there will be a payday down the road and not too far - and I'm truly enjoying the work I'm doing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Joining The Upstater

If you like what you read here, check out another place where I'll be posting.  As of April 3, I'll be penning (typing?) Upstate 101 on a great blog for people who love the upstate New York

I'm sharing some home buying tips and some insider information on some of my favorite places and people.  I'm hoping it'll be a place where we can share some information - maybe you'll clue me in to some places I didn't know about!

I spent a few hours in Rosendale last weekend - the day before Easter to be exact. It was a bit surreal.  The sidewalks were empty except for a huge Easter bunny looking for people to give candy to.  Yet the shops were hopping - which made me wonder: how was everyone getting from shop to shop?  Do they have teleporters in Rosendale?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Caffeinated Options

I recently broke up with coffee.

We've been close since I was nine years old - when my mother let me join her for morning coffee, but only if I took it the way she did: no sugar, no milk. Black and strong.

I do not remember caring how it tasted. It was a rite of passage to the adult world.

I was a hard core coffee drinker. It wasn't just a cup or two in the morning - it was six or seven cups. And when my first job had me working a late shift at a television station, I drank coffee until eight or nine at night.

I can count on one hand the number of times I noticed a case of coffee jitters - and that's over decades. Coffee treated me well.

I occasionally entertained the notion of giving it up. I don't like to be hooked on anything, and coffee was most definitely an addiction. But I was terrified of the dread coffee headache. So I kept drinking.

But something changed a few months back; I woke up one morning and turned my back on the coffee pot. I had green tea. And it was okay.

I'm a tea drinker now. I don't crave coffee.  I don't miss it the way I thought I would. I'm caffeinated and feel like my hot morning beverage now perhaps at least a trace of health benefits.

My guy views me sadly - our shared coffee addiction was something he enjoyed. C'est la vie.

Fortunately, tea drinkers are not outcasts in upstate New York. I still love to sit down and have a hot morning beverage outside my own kitchen. Here are some of my favorites.

 In my town of Woodstock, we have Bread Alone, Maria's Bazar, Joshua's  - all places you can sit down with your coffee drinking friends and enjoy a good cup of tea without ordering a full breakfast.  Oriole 9 and Sunfrost can also fix you up.

We have The Tea Shop, a place where coffee drinkers don't dare to tread but where you can sample a wide array of hot liquid treats for the nose and palate. Not made for sitting and lingering, however.

Rosendale has the Alternative Baker. Love the old bakery ambience, love the town.

High Falls is home of The Last Bite, a funky little breakfast and sandwich shop that's always hopping.

In Kingston, it's an embarrassment of riches.  Walk down Wall Street in the uptown area and take your pick; Dominick's, Hudson Coffee Traders...but if you're looking for people who really cater to the tea crowd, you want  Outdated.  They've got a huge selection of loose teas and scones that are to die for.

In Saugerties, head to the Inquiring Mind Bookstore and Cafe.  Lots of loose teas, comfortable couches encouraging you to hang around awhile.

Are there more? You bet. But these are the ones I know well, the ones I visit regularly, the ones I think you shouldn't miss.  Let me know if I've missed a good one!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

That's Country - Delaware, Greene, Columbia Counties

My guy tells me that he knew a NYC executive who was convinced that cows roamed the streets of Albany, New York.  He had no idea that it is a small city. If you've never seen New York beyond the five boroughs and their suburbs, you probably have similar visions.

You'd be wrong, but there are areas of New York that are truly country and proud of it. I will confine myself to talk about the areas I know...Columbia, Greene and Delaware Counties.

Delaware is cousin to Otsego County - rolling farms, small towns and some truly interesting people, like Cheryl Lins, founder of Delaware Phoenix distillery in Walton.  She makes small batch absinthe, bourbon, rye and corn whiskey and delivers it herself to a select group of retail outlets.

Route 28 runs through Ulster County into Delaware, and that's where you'll find Andes - a funky little Victorian town with a lot of surprising shops. There's an amazing vintage clothes store, a tea shop so hip it's hard to believe it's not in Brooklyn - but there's also a traditional small town ice cream parlor.  Winters hit hard in Andes because of its elevation in the Catskills - but it will take your breath away.

Greene County is also mountain country and lies between Ulster and Albany Counties. It is home to Hunter and Windham ski slopes and the little city of Catskill - an architecturally lovely town that seems poised on the brink of something, but it hasn't happened yet.

Greene County is also where you'll find Tannersville and my favorite bed and breakfast - Nehapwa.

It's an amazing old Catskills summer "cottage" (picture cottage in the Hamptons' sense of the word) with drop dead views of the mountains and something so welcoming that you will not able to stop at just one visit.  The good news is that the owners, both experienced in the hospitality business, are opening Nehapwa Kitchen, a new farm-to-table casual dining restaurant in the village of Tannersville this spring.  Lucky, lucky you.

Cross the river from Kingston and you're in Dutchess County - no mountains, upscale towns like Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Hyde Park. But head north and you're in Columbia County...another of my all time favorite places.

First you'll find Hudson, which is a remarkably rocking small city. First an antiques hub a few years ago, it's been reborn as a hip shopping and music destination, though one street in any direction might take you back to a view of what the city was like in its less successful days.  Head further north and go to Chatham - a wonderful old railroad town in the middle of horse farms and private country estates.

I lived in Chatham when I was a young mom. It's much fancier now than it was then, but it's still a terrific place. A great bookstore, a great health food store, an original shoe store that has shod school kids every year for generations and a fine old movie house. Kinderhook used to be fancier (we lived there, too), but it has become a real estate mall instead of a village - even the post office is now a real estate office.  Chatham's where you go to have breakfast, a great burrito or an excellent dinner. And just a mile out of town, the streetlights end and the night sky is littered with stars.

I'm back in Woodstock because I met a guy, and because I missed the mountains and the essential sweet silliness of the place.

But I swear to you - not a single one of these towns has cows roaming the streets. To see cows, go visit our two farm animal sanctuaries - Catskill Animal Sanctuary and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Otsego County - NY's Rolling Farmland

Look at the map - it's fair to say that Otsego County is truly the heart of New York. Less than two hours from Albany, more like three or four from metro NY, it is another world - a place where you can escape today's stress and step back in time, if you're so inclined. Yet there are many folks who move there to have it all - green, rolling hills and quiet towns with an Internet connection that hooks you into the global marketplace.

I spent every summer of my young life in Otsego County. My parents had over a hundred acres in Cherry Valley, land that they bought for some ridiculously small price and sold for an equally ridiculous small price forty years later. My kids spent their summers there, too, and they've got memories of those times that none of us would trade for anything.

You know Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Fair enough. But there's so much more.

We went to Cooperstown one year to see the fireworks over Otsego Lake.

That picture doesn't lie: it is just that unspoiled and beautiful.

Another year we stayed in our own front field and caught fireflies for the four of July.

We sat in the darkness and marveled, then let them go.
They groaned when we took them to the Farmer's Museum, then laughed as they tried to roll hoops across the green lawn and watched, wide-eyed, as a docent printed out a newsletter on an antique press.

Richfield Springs, Cooperstown, Oneonta - these are the "big" towns. But big is a relative term and they still have a small town charm that I love.

I don't want to say too much about Cherry Valley because the truth is I don't want it to change. I love that it is so sleepy that my kids could walk down the center of the main street safely. I love the limestone buildings on the main street.  I love the farms and the quaint old houses, the little villages nearby and the vistas that go on forever.

Winter comes early and stays late in Otsego County, but summer is a thing of rare beauty.

The area has its challenges - that sleepiness I love means there aren't many jobs. It's been an agricultural area for generations and farmers are hurting. There have been wild disputes over proposals for wind farms, for hydraulic fracturing, for gas pipelines.

The future for New York's farm counties is uncertain - particularly the ones that sit atop massive shale that holds deep natural gas deposits.

I love that land - I want the people there to have good jobs and a secure life. I want them to have that while preserving what makes their land so incredibly rare. It's a modern conundrum - but there are memories to be preserved and memories to be made. I hope the land is always there, soft and green, for future generations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Thumbnail Guide to Upstate NY

If you live in New York City (or even if you live in Chicago), you may have discovered a great little blog called The Upstater. It's a great destination if you want to get a feel for what's out there, what the realities are of buying a place in the country, what you need to know and what questions to ask. They also have links to some really great country houses.

But if you want to know about an area, talk to people who have lived there. 

So, Dear Reader, here's my personal guide to the country destinations within a reasonable distance to the city - towns I know well.

First, let's start with my home turf - Ulster County.  Ulster County is just two hours from Manhattan and, to my mind, is where upstate begins. The first county exit on the Thruway is

New Paltz: Nestled beneath the Shawangunk Ridge, home of the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, this is where you want to be if you're a climber. It's also home to the State University at New Paltz, which means it's a lively town with plenty of shops and services.

Head up Route 32 toward Kingston and you'll find

Rosendale: This link takes you to a great NYT article on the town written by an enthusiastic Rosendalian who left Brooklyn behind for small town life. Rosendale is small and funky with a lively arts scene, reasonable prices and some spectacularly beautiful places. It's also just an hour and forty five minutes from the city and on the bus route. Nearby High Falls and Stone Ridge must not be missed if you're interested in natural beauty and wonderful places to live.

Next stop? Kingston. It's the current "in" spot - with the uptown Stockade district enjoying a resurgence of interest (and buyers), more restaurants than you'll be able to visit in a month of visits and a comfortable small city vibe. Kingston's Rondout area, at the intersection of the Hudson and the Rondout, has been drawing artsy types for years now. Uptown's been flexing its muscle, with a farmer's market, the amazing O+ Festival, coffee shops, vintage clothing shops and a growing number of moviemakers and musicians. Where are the bargains? Midtown Kingston - the area between the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) and City Hall. Kingston has beautiful old brick buildings, Victorians, bungalows and multi-family houses as well as reconverted factories now opening as artist spaces.

Head west on Route 28 and in just ten minutes you're in the most famous small town in the world - Woodstock. If you think you know Woodstock, think again. This is where you'll find the Woodstock Film Festival, the Woodstock Writer's Festival, the Woodstock Playhouse, the Bearsville Theater. Sophisticated shops with designer clothes rub elbows with traditional hippie tie dye and everyone gets along. Spot celebrities, take a swim in Big Deep or hike Overlook - once you've lived in Woodstock no place else will do. Trust me - I came back after 25 years.

Farther up Route 28 is a very cool town - Phoenicia. Nestled beneath the Catskills, Phoenicia is a mountain town that will surprise you. You're heading into the Catskill Park, which is 750 thousand (yes, thousand!) acres of beautiful wilderness, but Phoenicia offers great food, interesting shops, galleries and a pharmacy that is a throwback to the 1960s. Plus there's the Esopus Creek, which, when it's behaving itself, offers tubing and some of the best fly fishing in the country.

If you stick to the Hudson, north of Kingston you'll find Saugerties. Somehow this great little town isn't on New York's radar yet - it's the last exit just before Hudson and it's well worth a stop. With a beautiful downtown with lively shops and restaurants, antiques, plus a world class horse show venue, Saugerties is always hopping. Plus, Jimmy Fallon grew up in Saugerties. What's not to love?

I've left out lots of towns, and not because they don't deserve mention. Esopus, Ulster Park, Highland (how about that Walkway Over the Hudson?), Marbletown, Olive, Hurley - they've all got amazing things to offer. Ulster County has the Hudson River and it has the Catskill Mountains. It has the Ashokan Reservoir and the Shawangunks. There's the Catskill State Park and Ellenville, it's southernmost city with the only Actor's Equity theater in the region - Shadowlands.

In my opinion, the best thing about being a realtor in this area is that my job lets me travel around the entire county - and every turn in the road offers something that makes my eyes, and my heart, really happy.

Next time, I'll fill you in on Otsego County - the beautiful farmland that should be the pride of NYS.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Patience is a virtue

There's one  facet of buying or selling home (or representing the clients in those transactions) that no one talks about - the fact that there's a lot of waiting involved.

If you're likeVeruca Salt in Willie Wonka's chocolate factory ("I want it now!") you're going to be frustrated.

First, there's the reality that even if you find your dream home at your very first stop, chances are it's going to be awhile before you can move in. There are the realities of inspections, paperwork, legal agreements, even getting utilities transferred to your name. And if you're getting a mortgage, it's going to be a couple of months. I'm told the record for a mortgage in our area is three weeks - and that was considered something akin to a miracle.

Then there's the more likely scenario that if you're buying, you're going to look at a few (or maybe quite a few!) houses before you find the one that's just right. Goldilocks had something important to say after all.

And if you're selling, the same goes double for you. You may have a stroke of luck and find your buyer is the first person to see your home after you list it. But there's a good chance it's going to be potential buyer number six or even twelve.

What I'm finding fascinating is the fact that being a realtor also means a daily exercise in learning to be comfortable with waiting. Clients who are certain they're ready to buy change their minds; their lives change, their plans change, life conspires to force them to put their plans on the shelf.

Sellers change their minds, too. And it's to be expected. Selling a home is a huge decision. Moving is never easy. Sometimes the best laid plans...

Truthfully?  It's all okay. Any investment as big as a house, a home, ought to be done deliberately and with great care. And the anticipation only adds to the excitement when the deal is finally done.

What I'm finding wonderful is meeting really interesting people, widening my circle, sharing the excitement of looking for homes. Honestly, could it get much better?  People invite me to their homes, I get to help them find someone new who will love their place, too. I get to know people, learn what they like, then match them with the home they've been wishing for.

Matchmaking is a great job!