Don’t Sell Until You’re Ready

Preparation is everything. If you want to sell your home and you want top dollar, you have to do some work first.

I have a story to tell you.

What you see below are pictures of a very sweet old farmhouse in Davenport that went on the market in very early spring. It was listed with another agent for a year and it didn’t sell. It didn’t show much, either.

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When I met the owner and toured the house, I saw a ton of potential, but it was buried under stuff. One main room, the one pictured on the right below, was full of furniture but clearly was used for storage. The downstairs bath had no door, just a curtain.

I went through, room by room, and suggested rearranging furniture, removing excess items. He promised he’d do it.

This seller was as good as his word. He rearranged even that extra room to look open, bright and livable. He hung a bathroom door. He spruced up the outside and the pictures we got looked warm and inviting. It’s not fancy, certainly, but it looks about as good as it can look in its current reality. It’s charming.

We got a lot of showings, fast. We got an offer, too. It’s still in negotiation, so we shall see if we get to closing. But I’m not worried. This is a sweet place, a perfect little Catskills homestead with outbuildings and lots of land. It shows well. It’ll sell.

I didn’t train as an interior designer, but I’ve shown and sold enough houses to know what looks good and what photographs well. It’s an added value an experienced Realtor brings to a seller…a lot of us have picked up that skill.

But some places need even a bit more of an expert eye. This place, for example.

Frost Valley

It’s a stunner, no doubt about it. It sets on a hillside, looking a bit like a luxury liner. Designed by a prominent architect for an equally prominent writer, the interior was intended to be reminiscent of a Swedish farmhouse. A really big Swedish farmhouse.

That meant long, long expanses of natural wood wainscotting. A palette of browns and tans.

It was on the market for years. When I got the listing, I knew we needed color. But this one needed my expert – Kate Burnell Interiors and Design. Kate came in and proposed a soft palette of blues and greens in a couple of rooms that softened everything, made it more welcoming and warm.

She also swapped out some blah overhead lighting for something updated and interesting.

It sold.

If you want to sell your home, look at it critically. Look for the flaws. Look for the assets. And ask yourself how to minimize the first and maximize the second. Shortcuts here are shortchanging only you. Call in an expert if you just aren’t sure. But do it.

Remember that buyers walk in a property hoping to fall in love. But they’re not easy. You’ve got to win them over. Wow them and you’ve got a sale.

Do the work. Make your home irresistible.

 

Want to see what’s for sale in the western Catskills and beyond? Come visit my website at upstatecountryrealty.com. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

 

Susan’s Upstate Caffeine Tour – Stop Three – Schenevus

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It’s pronounced skin-EE-vuhs. It’s nobody’s idea of a hot spot…a town laid out like many small upstate towns – a few businesses on one street, and not much else. And like many similar towns, the highway which passed it by is just a mile away.  It’s between Cobleskill and Oneonta on I-88 and there’s a whole lot of not much around it. But with a gas station and the Chief Schenevus diner, Schenevus is still alive and kicking.

It’s handy to the highway (as I mentioned), it’s not far from Cooperstown, and there are some beautiful places hidden in the hills off the main street.

I stopped by the Chief Schenevus on a cold, wet early spring day when I was chilled to the bone. I got a warm welcome, a hot cup of soup, and a thrilling surprise – a homemade scone.

I really like scones. They give me a sense that maybe we’re not all as different as we sometimes seem to be. I’ve had scones in Scotland (the best ones, I’ll admit), scones in England, scones in Canada, scones in New York and scones in random spots all over the US. If scones can be everywhere, we must all have at least a little in common, right?

But I was a bit worried when the door shut behind me. There was a TV. And it was set to Fox News.

Here’s the thing about this part of New York: it’s Fox News country. Not exclusively so, of course. But there are a lot of viewers here. If you don’t like Fox News, it can also make you feel a bit worried about your welcome. After all, you’re not a local.  And you tend to have more confidence in what Fox calls “fake news.”

But here’s the other thing about rural New York: people are really, sincerely nice. So I’ve had a lot of experiences with Fox News people that demonstrated that they may watch the nonsense they see there, they may even believe some of it, but they take their people on an individual basis, at face value. If you’re nice, they’ll give that back to you tenfold. If you’re not, whatever you get is on you.

That seems fair to me.

So when I walked in the Chief Schenevus and saw scones, I immediately began to relax. A good homemade scone, for me, is a sign that there’s still hope for this country.

The Chief Schenevus had three people working on the day I was there. There was a fellow cooking in the back, and two women behind the counter in the front. There was hot potato soup, good solid ceramic mugs and plenty of coffee.

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The women were friendly but not nosy. The food was delicious and they seemed to get a kick out of how excited the stranger was about the scones.

As I was leaving, a young couple came in with their new baby and both women lit up like a sunny day. They clearly knew the parents and were thrilled to see the new neighbor.

It felt friendly. Even with Fox News on behind them.

Four stars, Chief Schenevus. Five if you turn off the TV.

 

Want to see what’s for sale in the western Catskills and beyond? Come visit my website at upstatecountryrealty.com. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

A General Store Story

UPDATE: I am delighted to report that this wonderful old store is under contract and the new sellers intend to keep it as a market in some revised form.

Want to see what’s for sale in the western Catskills and beyond? Come visit my website at upstatecountryrealty.com. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

The QUINTESSENTIAL GENERAL STORE

That’s the official ad. It’s a general store. It’s in Cherry Valley. It’s for sale. But of course that’s just the beginning of the story. Let me tell you about Rury’s Food Store.

When I was a kid, my family had a cabin on 100 acres outside of Cherry Valley. We spent every summer there. I adored it and I loved the town of Cherry Valley. It was sleepy and friendly and quiet, and I was way too young to know or understand that Alan Ginsberg and a horde of wild-eyed artists had a place above town where they had a much more adventurous life than I did. But there was always something a bit more interesting in the air than you’d expect from a seemingly-forgotten small upstate New York town.

I brought my own kids to that cabin and we all have happy memories of their times there. To them,  this was the town where they could walk down the middle of the main street and only have to keep an eye out for a tractor or a dog. It’s where the library was the size of their house back home, and where they could find hilarious old comic books for sale in the back of the market down the road. And it’s where they could walk into Rury’s and enjoy the satisfying slam of a giant screen door and be welcomed by the same guy who used to greet their mom – Jake Rury.

My kids are grown now. And I’ve moved back to this area, drawn by a sense that I had to, finally, live here. I started talking to Jake, who was ready to sell his market. I really really wanted to run a general store. He let me run all over the building, and I learned there was a former lawyer’s office on the other side, two apartments on the second floor, and an absolutely incredible top floor space that was once used by the Mason’s.

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It didn’t work out; my partner will do almost anything for me, but moving his music studio into an aging building in the middle of a town he hadn’t quite warmed to yet (though it won him over eventually) was a step too far. We found a happy compromise in Franklin – a town about an hour away but equally artsy and charming and beautiful. Rury’s closed.

And then Jake died.

His sons own the building and they’ve got no interest in running the store. I got in touch and asked if I could help. They said yes.

And so I find myself representing a property that I still wish I could have bought myself. I can envision the market that could become the new Rury’s (and I will hope the name stays). I picture an owner who loves small communities, who wants to come in and become a part of what’s here, who appreciates its quirky history, its summer tourism and its winter quiet. I picture a coffee pot that’s on in the winter for the plow guys if the local diner isn’t open yet, a place with a table or two where the elderly folks know they’re welcome to sit down and visit and the local kids know they’ll be greeted by name. And I can picture so many things on that amazing third floor that I simply cannot list them all.

I know this town, and it needs a market. It needs an anchor. Right now, folks have to drive twenty minutes for groceries that aren’t stocked at the town’s convenience store.

The new owner may have other plans. But I’m rooting for a market.

Jake Rury’s dad worked in that market, then Jake bought it and raised his family in the apartment upstairs. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P, remember) was once a competitor, but it’s gone. It’s a health care center now. There was a newer supermarket. It’s gone; now an insurance agency. This is one of Jake’s boys. He’s looking for someone to take over a live/work opportunity that kept his dad and his mom comfortable for their whole lives.

 

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This is what’s on offer. It seems to be a good, solid old building. It’s a town that sees tourists from nearby Cooperstown and Sharon Springs in the summer. There’s a lot of updating to do, particularly the electric, so it requires clear heads. But there’s business in town, and there’s potential for this to be something very rewarding — and not just financially.

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Getting Ready For Spring

red green fruit in close up photography

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, I know. There are a million things wrong with this photo for this post. First, apples ripen in the fall, not the spring. Second, we got about three inches of snow last night.  Beyond that? I didn’t take the picture.

But there is spring light, we’ll turn the clocks forward soon, the local maple guy has hung his buckets on trees all over town, and the Franklin Library has announced it is hosting a session on “How to prune trees” next week.

Can spring be far behind?

I didn’t know that fruit trees need to be pruned in the winter, not in warm weather. Armed with this information, I did my best with the wildly overgrown pear tree (I think it’s pear, anyway) in the field. It bore no fruit at all last year and I suspect it’s because all its energy went into sprouting branches at an incredible rate. The problem is it is quite tall. So I did what I could.

The apple trees are closer to the ground and I trimmed some of their overgrowth, too. Maybe, in time, it’ll be a real orchard.

Inside, the brighter light isn’t kind to dirty windows but there’s no point in attacking that issue until the weather improves. The dust and the clutter we accumulated over the winter is another matter. Marie Kondo would be proud.

How about real estate, you ask? Or not. But if you’re thinking of  selling, tackle whatever projects you can before the good weather lures you outside to work in the yard. And if you think you want to buy, now’s a great time to get yourself pre-qualified by the lender of your choice. That way, when you go hunting, you’ll know just what you can afford.

Wondering where the coffee review went? It’ll be back. It was too darned messy out to explore. But coffee beckons…

And take a minute and visit my spiffy new website..upstatecountryrealty.com

Sign up and I’ll keep you up to date with what’s going on, cool new houses, and all kinds of random things that interest me (and maybe you!).

 

 

 

 

Susan’s Upstate Caffeine Tour- Stop One

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This is Hoppie’s. It’s in the little town of Oxford, overlooking the village square. It’s a cafe/diner/community gathering spot.

It’s great. Let me explain why:

First, let’s talk about colors.

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Hoppie’s gets colors. They have got the most glorious selection of blue and red and etched glass I’ve seen in a long time. And they augment with some very cool blue light bulbs. So right off the bat, you know these people have a personality.

Next, let’s talk about pies.

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I really like pie. A lot. I don’t eat a ton of it, because I’m always trying to be conscious of what I’m eating (and is that ever tiresome!) but I never fail to delight in a place that has an assortment of pies.  Look at that picture. Hoppie’s does pies.

And then let’s talk about the setting. Oxford, NY.

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This is Chenango County, between Binghamton and Albany, northwest of Delhi, for you Hudson Valley types. It’s not booming. But this town square is something really special, the setting for the Oxford Academy, their town school, is glorious, and there are little parks and boulevards scattered all over town. It has charm.

Yes, reader, I am smitten. If I wasn’t already madly in love with my own town (Franklin) and my childhood crush (Cherry Valley) I’d be wondering why we didn’t live there.

Prices are incredibly good, too. Good news for buyers, even if it’s a bit sad for sellers. But we know where we are, here in central New York. Brooklyn, for the most part, hasn’t found us yet. They’re going to be wild about us when they do.

Now — on to the coffee and the food. Breakfast all day, people. Need I say more? My sweetie ordered a pancake and was warned that it was as big as a plate. “Bring it on,” said he, and proceeded to polish it off along with eggs and home fries.

The coffee comes in a mug that the waitress dubbed “too small”, so she visited frequently for free refills. And we sat at a table by the window and played peek a boo with a toddler who found us pretty intriguing.

Hoppie’s rates a five out of five on the Caffeine Tour rating system I just invented. Hey, it’s my tour, I get to set the system and do the scoring.

Ambience, friendly folks, great setting, great coffee and good food. The stained glass put them over the top. I admit it.