Alfred Peavy of Ruth Gale Realty in Phoenicia is adjusting figures as he speaks, adding in reports from his firm’s other two brokers. At first, his first quarter figures for pending sales is $1.5 million…which he says is great considering no one was selling anything last year at this time. Then he adjusts the number up to two million, and finally to $2.17 million. “Of course, those are sales we’ve signed up,” Peavy added. “But it remains better than we did last year by a long shot.”
His enthusiasm, which includes lists of homes selling in various price ranges in Phoenicia and Olive, as well as more rural areas, was echoed across the board by Woodstock area realtors this past week.
“I did statistics the night before you called and remarked on the excellent news,” said Joan Lonergan of Village Green Realty. “The feeling in the marketplace is really positive; the energy of buyers is very positive. We’ve absolutely turned the corner and interest rates are still good. Generally, there’s a great deal of optimism out there, and the amount of high end buyers looking has been significant.”
Lonergan reeled off some figures to back up the booster-like talk. All were from the first quarter of this year, in comparison to previous first quarters. In 2009, she said, there were 318 sales for an aggregate amount of $76 million in Ulster County residences and multi-family homes. Last year the figure was 466 homes for $95 million and already this quarter, with two weeks left, the figures were at 376 sales and $91 million in total sales.
Of course, the veteran realtor added, that’s way off the boom years of the last decade, when there were 642 sales this quarter in 2006, and 646 in 2007.
“But if we can get ourselves up to 500 units sold in a year or so, things will be good again,” she said. “Our average price went up from $238,000 in 2012 to $242,000 this year. Everything’s on the upswing… I think buyers have fully realized that the media is no longer talking about the market going down again. There’s been new construction on a national basis, if not here. And people are realizing the value of buying older homes in this area.”
As a final note, Lonergan noted how the commercial space on Mill Hill Road formerly occupied by Violette, a French bistro, had just gotten three competing bids after months with just inquiries. And, as well, there’s new movement in the middle and high ranges of house prices, and not just things under $200,000 in price.
Rentals up, too
“Things started to change in October and November. Since then prices have been increasing and a lot of buyers have resurfaced,” said Doreen Mar of Freestyle realty, noting recent upper end sales of $1.3 million, $900,000, $750,000 and $525,000 in and around town. “Shandaken is doing very well just now as people get drawn to the Phoenicia area, and Woodstock’s holding its own. Only Olive is slow right now.”
As examples of recent trends, she spoke about buyers who wanted to hang out in a local community…as well as those who have come up to local B&Bs, for short-term summer rentals, and such places as The Emerson, which she said has already booked a whole season of weddings for the coming year.
“We sold what used to be the Crossroads Ventures offices, where Dean Gitter was based, to a Canadian couple,” Mar said. “They’ll be doing an inn, working with the Emerson…inventory’s really moving now!”
As for those rentals she mentioned, the broker noted how Freestyle can now afford one broker specializing in summer and weekend markets. Instead of taking a place for an entire season, she added, people are now more interested in weekends or week-long rentals. Similarly, she’s found that many in the area avoided foreclosure in recent years by renting more on line, keeping their properties paid for until the market got better…which it finally seems to be doing.