I’m starting a new chapter. A really thrilling one. I’ve joined forces with Keller Williams Upstate NY Properties, and will now be doing business with a logo I got to create, ( lookey up there!) with advertising I get to control, and even some help with marketing (more on that later).
I’ve made a lot of changes over the years, but it’s not easy for me. I agonize over them. I make lists. I weigh pros and cons and I talk about it until I’m blue in the face.
But once done, I’m full steam ahead and this feels really, really good. I get to continue to work with clients I enjoy, help find them properties they fall in love with, and help sellers move on and find the best buyers for their homes. All within an hour of home.
This domain doesn’t work for me now, and rather than tweak and fiddle around, I’m just going to start from scratch.
This lovely ranch illustrates an issue realtors and sellers face when a property comes on the market in the depths of a Northeastern US winter. The exterior photo simply doesn’t do it justice.
It’s a stunning edge-of-town property in what I will argue is the most beautiful small town in New York – and maybe anywhere: Cooperstown. Yes, the Cooperstown that’s all about baseball.
But do you know that Cooperstown is also home of Otsego Lake, a pristine, lovely, surprisingly undeveloped six mile long freshwater lake that begins in the sleep town of Springfield Center and ends at Lakeshore Park in the center of Cooperstown?
It’s also home to the Farmer’s Museum — and I’ll have a lot more to say about that later this spring– as well as the Fenimore Art Museum.
And this house is just steps from one of the loveliest golf courses anywhere, as well as the historic Otesaga Hotel. And a bit over three hours from the GWB.
But there were piles of snow outside when we listed this property. And no matter how great the house, snow simply doesn’t look welcoming.
So when you look for this house for sale on the Sotheby’s website (and you should), you’ll find it nestled in lush, neatly trimmed green lawn, looking like a gem in a perfect setting.
It’s not misleading. That’s how it looks in summer. And that’s simply allowing it to shine as we look for its new owner. Luckily, the sellers had a good summertime photo we could use until we can take one of our own when the snow is gone.
If it hasn’t sold by then.
There’s one exception to that snowy problem, and it’s only good for a short time. Here’s what it is:
When a house looks like this around the end of the year, it’s a great opportunity to help a buyer imagine what a snow-dusted holiday in that house could be like.
And just for your information, this is that house without the decorations.
It’s a beautiful Federal in the adorable Chenango County town of Oxford. It’s large. Quite large. And it’s just a stroll to the postcard-perfect town square. But this is a quiet part of upstate New York, and I suspect the price will shock you. It’s move-in ready and it can be yours … for $119,000.
This was the view out my window as the first truly serious snow of the winter began to fall last night.
And here’s the view, about twelve hours later.
I’d say there was about a foot of snow from this storm, which isn’t as much as was forecast, but it was enough. It was that lovely, soft, powdery stuff that is light to shovel, but no good at all for making a snowman. And I really did want to make a snowman.
I also wanted to try sledding down our hill, but it’s a pretty gentle slope, the sled’s nothing great, and, bottom line, it was a bust.
Violet Wiggins, however, was having the time of her life. Is there anything better than a dog roaring around a field a top speed, bounding through the snow with a massive doggy grin?
I love living in the country. I love my little farmhouse. I love this quiet part of upstate New York.
How lucky for me I get to help other people find their places here, too.
It snowed yesterday. Quite a bit, actually. It’s early for such things. But it was lovely.
And now we enter the traditionally “slow” time of year in real estate.
If this is slow, imagine what a hot market will be like.
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
First, a great new/old farmhouse in ravishing Roxbury, with tons of land, views forever, AND a guest house is now for sale. That’s 635 Hall Rd. Look it up. What a spot!
Next up, two waterfront listings on pristine Oquaga Lake in Deposit. Where is that, you ask? South central NY. An easy trip on Rt 17 from the city, handy to PA. The first one is a house. It’s a nice house, and it’s got a dock and lots of room. It looks like something you could enjoy and also get some lovely rental income from. That 491 Oquaga Lake Rd. Deposit.
And then there’s its neighbor, the Chestnut Inn. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming an innkeeper, opening a retreat center, a wedding venue, something along that line, and you’d love a commercial kitchen, extra houses for rental income, and a lake? Here you go. 505 Oquaga Lake Rd. Sanford Deposit.
Plus I’ve been showing a home that I sometimes find myself dreaming about…Honeysuckle Rose. Just down the road from the Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville, it’s got secret gardens, a rock pool just waiting for restoration, and an entry that is beyond stunning. 912 Route 25. It is, as the song goes, “confection.” And someone’s going to fall in love. It’s just a matter of time.
That’s plenty, don’t you think? But there may be more on the way, from mountainside acreage perfect for a healing retreat to the most carefree home in Cooperstown.
We don’t stop dreaming just because winter’s coming. In fact, winter may be the best time to dream.
My mother-in-law, a wonderful woman who became my friend, was a real estate broker.
“You should do it,” she told me over and over. “You’d be really good at it. And I’ve made so many good friends in this business.”
Dale, you were right — again.
I started my real estate career feeling a bit shell-shocked. There was so much to learn. I had all the book learning, but real life experience in sales? Next to nothing. I was a middle-aged newbie.
It’s been almost ten years now.
The first few years were definitely a learning curve but when I joined a very well-run boutique agency, everything started to click. I had some big sales.
I met some great people. Some of them became friends. One couple became such good friends that they came to my son’s wedding. We danced together all night and I was so glad to have them with us.
The Brooklyn invasion of the Hudson Valley seemed to open a flood of “muh peepul” as Hannah Gadsby would say. Surprisingly, people quite a bit younger than I are “muh peepul.” I like Brooklyn expats. And they like me.
My first experience was a couple I called “the brewery kids.” They weren’t kids at all. But they are about the age of my own kids and I found myself personally invested in helping them find their dream site for their dream project – – a craft brewery.
We drove hundreds of miles over a period of many months. I had one snarky realtor tell me he’d “never” work with them: “They’ll never buy anything,” he predicted.
I defended them like they were family. I knew they were serious. We just had to find the right place.
We did. And they now have a thriving business, a growing family and a cult following. I am proud I knew them when. I miss talking to them constantly, but they’ve got a business to run.
Before my move to farm country, I worked with several younger couples, all of whom struck me as people I wouldn’t be forgetting soon. There was the young mom of twins who explored the mountains with me, pausing for us both to go for a swim on a hot summer day. There were “the yoga people,” a beautiful young couple looking to escape the New York City rat race and establish a peaceful retreat in the Catskills that they could share with others. There was another couple with twins, with whom I shared the frets and worries of moving as I moved during their purchase of a country farmhouse. Another artistic couple found the funkiest place imaginable, with a tunnel to a studio space, no less. Working with them with just plain fun.
Everyone found their perfect place. And I found people who I hope to always know.
They weren’t just clients. They are friends.
Now that I’m in a new area, I’m meeting new people. Some of them completely disagree with me on politics. Some of them are older than I am. Some of them are younger. But many of them are wonderful. One couple gave me a pint of the most amazing maple syrup I’ve ever tasted — and I am a maple syrup junkie. They boil it down on their farm.
I may have gotten spoiled. Business was so often a pleasure. It may be more business here. But Brooklyn, once you find this gorgeous, affordable part of New York, you’re going to be haunted by it. And you’re going to love it here. I hope I’ll get to show you around.
Not every real estate client becomes a friend. But how lucky am I? So many have.
I have always been a reader. Some kids were athletes. Some were social. I read. And, like most obsessive readers, I became a writer.
It’s a solitary occupation, which is why real estate is a good balance for me. That’s a very social occupation.
But when I’m done, I go back to my little kitchen table in the bay window upstairs and write. It’s how I recharge.
The town I used to live in was full of writers. They even had a yearly writer’s festival. And forgive me, hometown, but it felt like a competition. I wasn’t even comfortable in our local book shop, which should’ve been a tip off that I wasn’t at home there.
I’m insecure enough about my writing that I’m just not comfortable planting my feet and holding forth on my “process.” My process is writing, rewriting, rewriting, putting it in a drawer, then pulling it out after a few years and wondering who wrote that surprisingly okay story.
I’ve moved. And my awkward social self feels entirely at home here, where there’s a bit more space, a lot less competition for the title of “most creative”, and where the local book shop not only welcomes local writers, but invites them to stay and chat about local gossip. “It ought to be a chapter in a book,” the owner said happily after explaining an upcoming election brouhaha.
What is this wonderful place, you ask? It is the Green Toad Bookstore on Main Street in lovely old Oneonta.
It’s a brick and mortar building that actually has brick and mortar. High ceilings, soft light, a massive selection of books, and (hallelujah!) a coffee shop right next door that you can access without going outside.
Where’s that, you ask? It’s three hours from the GWB, for my New York friends. It’s an hour and a half from Albany. It’s a step back in time and it’s just wonderful.
It’s very pretty in the city of hills (Oneonta’s slogan) this time of year. You could visit. It is a whole lot more enjoyable than online shopping. And if you go over Franklin Mountain and drive down a side road in Franklin, you might be able to spot me, sitting at that table by the window in our farmhouse.
Sometimes business becomes personal. And sometimes it goes wrong. But sometimes, that gives me an opportunity to decide if I am really the person I want to be.
That happened today.
Former clients, people I worked with for a long time and really liked, just disappeared one day. This wasn’t just business. We’d become friends. They swore there was no way they’d ever want to work with anyone else. Then they did. They didn’t say goodbye. They didn’t explain. They vanished.
I hadn’t seen it coming. I’ll be honest — it hurt. I felt like I got dumped at the dance.
Fast forward a couple of years and suddenly I got an email from them. They were having trouble with a real estate transaction and they wondered if I could help them understand what they should do.
I paused. I wondered if the better thing to do was to simply not respond. We no longer had any relationship and any communication with them had to be very clear, as they have another agent and I do not want to, indeed cannot, by the code of ethics, interfere.
But I decided ignoring them was not the right answer. I’d liked them, I’d done my best for them, and I knew I’d feel better about myself if I continued to do that.
I dropped them an email, asked for a clearer explanation, then made a phone call to someone involved in their transaction to get the full story. Once done, I let them know it made sense to me, that if they needed further explanation, they could call me.
“Do your clients and co-workers know how lucky they are to have you?” they wrote.
No. Of course they don’t. Just like these clients didn’t realize how hard I’d worked on their behalf until they moved on. Just like I sometimes take it for granted when I know I can count on someone.
Trust is hard to win. And it hurts when it’s lost. But I did my best, before and afterwards.
I treated them the way I’d hope to be treated. That’s all I can do. But that’s a lot.