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2011 Ulster County Real Estate Statistics

by Team Ulster





The final numbers are in for 2011 home sales in Ulster County.   Here are some highlights from the charts shown below:


• The number of homes sold in 2011 was 914, down from the high of 1,711 homes sold in 2005 – a 45% decline.

• Home sales in the $400,000 to $900,000 range declined by 61% from 2005 to 2011.

• In 2011, home sales were most active below $400,000, with sales under $100,000 being at their highest level in the last eight years.

• There was a 22% drop in the median price of homes from their high in 2007 of $250,750 to $199,000 in 2011.

• The number of days a house was on the market from listing to closing was 188 days in 2011, up from 126 days in 2004.

• It is a great time to buy a home, as interest rates are at their all-time low, and prices have dropped to there lowest level in 10 years.

 

The following charts were compiled based on information taken from the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service.

 

 

 

 


 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Your Windows More Efficient

by Terri Bennett, Charlotte Observer


With all the money we spend this time of year on presents, parties, and everything else — who really can afford to let money fly right out the window? Do Your Part during these chilly months to make your windows more efficient to cut down on your utility bills.

In the winter, drafty windows can account for up to 25 percent of our heating bill.

However, there are some fixes that will make all the difference. Common choices include insulating drapes, interior storm windows, and plastic window insulation kit. Each of these solutions has its own pros and cons, but they all insulate the same way. They create an insulated air buffer between your home and the window surface.

Insulated drapes are considered the most attractive option, but experts stress the importance of proper insulation. Drapes must be flush with the wall to effectively create an air space between the window surface and the curtains. Improperly installed curtains that let air pass through the sides of the drapes can actually pull heat away from the room.

Drapes, of course, can be reused and will help reduce utilities costs in every season.

Interior storm windows can be fitted to your windows and are effective at reducing air infiltration. These units use a fitted pane that often clips into a frame. Pane materials range from the more expensive glass to polycarbonate plastic. The advantage to interior storm windows is that they can be reused for several years. Many favor interior storm windows over exterior varieties because they are easier to install will require less maintenance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, interior storm windows can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent.

Plastic insulation kits are a very economical choice. Kits include a plastic sheet that is attached to a window frame with adhesive tape and then stretched tight by applying heat with a hair dryer. The plastic film is made of vinyl, polyester or polyethylene and can technically be removed and stored for next winter's use. Most homeowners, however, find these kits to be single season items due to tears in the plastic and the milky appearance created by the aging plastic.

So which is your best choice? Go with a reusable option like interior storm windows or insulating drapes. Homeowners that want to realize long term savings should consider upgrading to Energy Star qualified windows. Energy Star-rated windows will have a substantial upfront cost but are the most efficient way to reduce home heat loss around windows.

Whether you go big or small, do your part to keep the warm air inside your home and more money in your wallet.
 

By Terri Bennett (c) 2010, The Charlotte Observer


 

Private Drinking Water Wells

by EPA




If your family gets drinking water from a private well, do you know if your water is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? Where can you go for help or advice?

EPA regulates public water systems; it does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells. Approximately 15 percent of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies, and these supplies are not subject to EPA standards, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.

  • Basic Information - Learn about the types of drinking water wells and guidelines for proper construction.
  • Where You Live - Find information about private drinking water wells in your region or state.
  • Frequent Questions -This page answers questions you may have about your well water.
  • Human Health - Learn about health risks associated with drinking water wells.
  • Partnerships - Several organizations are working to keep private drinking water wells safe.
  • What You Can Do - Learn how to do your part in keeping your drinking water well safe.
  • Publications -Download or order copies of brochures, booklets, posters, reports, and multi-media publications.
  • Related Links - Link to web sites with additional information on private drinking water wells.
  • Glossary - Look up unfamiliar terms in EPA’s electronic glossary Delicious


 

Kingston Night Life

by Rebecca Rothbaum, The New York Times


FROM its menu of pre-Prohibition-era tipples concocted with house-made syrups to its setting in a painstakingly restored 1880s sewing machine factory, the year-and-a-half-old Stockade Tavern is the epitome of cocktail chic. But you won’t find it in downtown Manhattan or across the river in Brooklyn; instead, head about two hours north to Kingston, a modest-size city in the Hudson Valley of New York.



Although home to some of the state’s most beautiful and historic architecture, Kingston has been a mostly sleepy spot since I.B.M. closed its plant there in the mid-1990s. But that’s changing, thanks to a fresh crop of bars and restaurants inspired by the city’s old-time charms, as well as its growing population of young artists and its farm-rich location.

“We just felt like country people could use a decent drink, too,” said Giovanna Vis, who owns Stockade Tavern (313 Fair Street; 845-514-2649); with her husband, Paul Maloney, and their business partner, Don Johnson. The bar is named for the Stockade District, also called uptown, which dates back to the mid-17th century.

Another recent addition is Boitson’s (47 North Front Street; 845-339-2333), a stylish American bistro with leather banquettes and marble-topped tables, which opened uptown in June 2010. Maria Philippis, the owner, named it for its benefactor, her former Brooklyn landlord, who died in 2007 and left Ms. Philippis money to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant.

“Mr. Boitson was a sailor in World War II, and I wanted the restaurant to look like the kind of place he would have hung out in,” she said. It offers comfort foods like fried chicken and steak frites, and has an all-New York State beer list and a wide selection of American wines.
A 1927 diner in midtown is home to the recently revamped Old Trolley Kitchen (336 East Chester Street; 845-340-0797). Sylvan Perez, the chef and an owner, with Joy Roman, sees a connection between the building and his culinary mission. “We really respect the idea of local food,” he said. “When the diner first opened, the food would have tended toward the seasonal and fresh because there wasn’t any other choice back then.” (Dinner is served only a few nights a week, so it’s best to call ahead.)

Then there’s Elephant (310 Wall Street; 845-339-9310), a wine and tapas bar around the corner from the Stockade in Kingston’s uptown, and a pioneer of sorts: it opened five years ago in the former recording studio of the cult-indie band Mercury Rev. When the space became available, the landlords, Joe Concra and Denise Orzo, a couple (both are artists), called their friend Rich Reeve, a chef. At the time, it seemed like “the middle of nowhere,” recalled Mr. Reeve, who now runs the business with his wife, Maya Karrol. But the rent was low, so they took a risk. “We just decided we would do what we wanted, and play punk rock and serve beef-heart tacos and pig tails,” Ms. Karrol said.

The restaurant is kept in offal by Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats (307 Wall Street; 845-338-6666), the locavore butcher across the street, which opened a second shop in Brooklyn last month and plans to open a burger place in Kingston called Grass next spring.
On a Saturday night last spring, Jesse Van Note, a local musician, was enjoying a drink at Elephant after a local band had finished its set. “We’re in a tapas bar where you can hear surf rock,” he said. “Where else are you going to find that?”

 


 

Three Mortgage Mistakes You Can Avoid

by Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Inman News



The mortgage market is in a state of tumult these days. Rates are bizarrely low, but many homes are worth much less than the mortgage balances they secure. People are still losing their homes left and right, but millions of mortgage applications of creditworthy borrowers are being rejected every year.

Against this backdrop, it's really no wonder that would-be buyers and homeowners alike are in a state of confusion about which end is up in the mortgage marketplace.

To shed some light into this darkness, here are three very common mortgage mistakes that you might be making as we speak -- and some strategies for avoiding or correcting them.

1. Failing to try to refinance because you're upside-down. At last count, nearly 11 million Americans were upside-down on their homes -- meaning they owe more in mortgage(s) than the home is worth -- and that's about 23 percent of all American homes. With interest rates having dropped to historic low after historic low, more than 10 million Americans have refinanced their mortgages since 2009.

But most homeowners with negative equity feel like they are trapped in their 6, 7 or even 8 percent interest mortgages, unable to save the hundreds of dollars every month of a mortgage at today's sub-4 percent rates, because no lender will refinance them.

The fact is, multiple options abound for lowering your interest rate and monthly payment if you're upside down on your home loan. Banks are increasingly amenable to simply modify existing mortgages to render them less prone to default and foreclosure -- especially when the homeowner is trying to recover from a financial hardship like interrupted income due to job loss or illness, and especially with upside-down loans (which are particularly liable to strategic default, without modification).

Also, many banks offer refis on mortgages as much as 25 percent underwater (so long as no payments have been missed) through the Obama administration's Home Affordable Refinance Program and the less widely adopted Federal Housing Administration Short Refinance Program.

Contact your own mortgage bank's loss mitigation division about a loan modification or a refi under HARP, or reach out to any mortgage broker that offers FHA loans to apply for the Short Refi Program.


2. Walking into the bank branch to get a mortgage. Not to jump on the anti-bank bandwagon, but unless your bank happens to be a neighborhood credit union or one of the few large banks that ranks highly in customer satisfaction (e.g., USAA), you'll likely not be satisfied with the speed, customer service or assertiveness of a mortgage banker you meet just walking into the branch.
If you work with a mortgage broker or a private mortgage banker you meet by referrals from your circle of friends and relatives, chances are good you'll get someone who understands that the long-term health of their business depends on you and clients like you getting a deal closed in a timely manner.

Specifically, you should request referrals from folks you know who have bought or refinanced homes relatively recently, as the mortgage pros who are still in business and closing deals successfully these days are necessarily skilled at navigating a very tricky and restrictive mortgage market.

Also, if you work with a mortgage broker whose company also has its own bank, you get the best of both worlds: a professional who will shop lots of banks' offerings to find the best options for you, and someone who can coordinate your transaction via a small pool of local, experienced appraisers. Many large banks select appraisers who don't know the area, which can kill your deal in the long run.

3. Thinking you're stuck with it for 30 years. I've heard people say they didn't want to buy a home because they were depressed by the thought of a debt that would last 30 years. I've heard others regret that they couldn't afford the payment on a 15-year mortgage and instead were stuck with a 30-year loan.

The fact is, you control when you pay your mortgage off, and it doesn't take a lottery or inheritance windfall to pay yours off sooner than later.

Some people pay half their mortgage payment every two weeks, which results in a full extra payment every year and can pay your mortgage off as much as five years early. Others just pay an extra $100 or so as often as they can, and ask their loan servicer to apply the overage to principal.

Some do much more, applying paycheck raises over the years or amounts they once paid to extinguish credit card debt toward their mortgage balances in an effort to pay them off early.
The theme is that, as a borrower, you may have much more power than you thought, from exploring little-known options for getting your upside-down mortgage's payment lowered to being aggressive about paying your home off sooner rather than later. So get clear on your personal goals for your mortgage, get educated about your options and get assertive about making them happen -- now.

Secrets to getting a mortgage with so-so credit

by Les Christie

Getting a mortgage can be tough these days -- even people with near-perfect credit have been rejected for loans. But for some lucky borrowers, things aren't as bad as the doom-and-gloom crowd says.

At a recent press conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said lending standards for mortgages have tightened so considerably that "the bottom third of people who might have qualified for a prime mortgage in terms of, say, FICO scores a few years ago -- cannot qualify today."

Indeed, roughly one-in-four mortgage applicants was denied in 2010, up from about 18% in 2003, according to data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. And those are just the ones that apply -- many discouraged potential borrowers don't even bother to apply anymore.

Yet, there is money to lend. Bob Ryan, the acting commissioner for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, recently said that mortgage money "is flowing, it's stable, it's tightened from the boom years, but it's there."

And many of those potential home buyers sitting on the sidelines may just have a shot at it -- as long as they take a few crucial steps.

"The belief is that you can't get a mortgage at all -- but you can," Keith Gumbinger, of the mortgage information provider HSH Associates.

What you need for traditional mortgages:
Most of the major mortgage underwriters have only returned to the more prudent standards of the days before the housing bubble. Now, according to Tuck Bradford, a branch manager with lender Mortgage Master, borrowers usually must meet four criteria in order to get a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the two government-run mortgage giants:

• The ability to make a 20% down payment, plus closing costs.
• A good credit score. Borrowers usually need a minimum credit score of 620.
• Enough income to afford payments. The general rule of thumb: no more than 28% of your gross income should go toward housing costs.

• A loan-to-value ratio of 80%. Lenders want the home value to far exceed the mortgage balance because if a borrower defaults, the bank sells the home to recoup the loss.
In today's market, however, even having all four of these factors in place doesn't always guarantee that you will get a loan.

Steve Habetz, a loan officer in Westport, Conn. had a client who was seeking to refinance but he had a single blemish scarring an otherwise spotless credit report. The client had a couple million dollars in assets, high income, ample home equity -- and a strong credit score of 700.
"This guy was a Boy Scout when it came to paying debts," said Habetz. "He had never been late."

Yet, Habetz couldn't get him a mortgage. The problem: an investment property the client had owned and tried to unload but couldn't (thanks to the housing bust). He eventually resorted to a short sale -- a deal in which the proceeds of the sale are insufficient to pay the amount owed on the mortgage and the bank agrees to forgive the losses.

Not only did the short sale lop 100 points or so off his credit score, but it also resulted in an automatic rejection of his refinance application.

"It's maddening," said Habetz. "Other than that one detail, he's very low risk. Because he had the short sale, he's out of the box for two years."

But, for every client like Habertz's who gets rejected, there are those who have been much luckier at landing mortgage loans. And typically, they have turned to the Federal Housing Administration for help.

"The FHA is just about as free and easy as it was in the go-go days," said Gumbinger.

Standards for these loans, insured by the FHA and issued by regular mortgage lenders, are flexible and aimed at making mortgage borrowing easier, especially for working-class Americans.

For years, the FHA had no minimum credit score requirement at all. Now though, it requires a minimum of 580 to qualify for a 3.5%-down loan and 500 for a 10%-down mortgage.

In practice, however, some banks will impose higher standards, according to Scott Sheldon, a loan officer with First California Mortgage in Sonoma County, Calif.

"We FHA lenders have to protect ourselves and we've been going with a 640 minimum for a 3.5% mortgage," he said.

How one high-risk borrower got lucky:
Sheldon had one client who seemed like an impossible case. The client was buying a home in Healdsburg, California, the heart of Sonoma's wine country. His credit score was just over 600, he was paying alimony and child support and he only had enough money for a small down payment. And there was one additional tiny problem: He had just emerged from bankruptcy in April 2009.

In other ways, he was low-risk borrower. He grossed $10,000 a month, ample enough to satisfy debt-to-income guidelines on the $315,000 home he was buying, and he was able to document a stable work history.

The client knew he had to raise his credit score above the 600 level in order to improve his chances. So he paid a credit repair service, Lexington Law, about $500 to find and correct errors in his records. That helped boost his score above 640.

The client got the loan and closed on a home a couple weeks ago. The bankruptcy made it tough -- but not impossible.

As Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the FHA explained, the agency is willing to overlook a blemish on a credit report -- even a big one -- if other factors are favorable.
In today's unforgiving housing market, that's music to a borrower's ears.

Williamsburg on the Hudson

by Peter Applebome
google map to real pro systems

Call it the Brooklynization of the Hudson Valley, the steady hipness creep with its locavore cuisine, its Williamsburgian bars, its Gyrotonic exercise, feng shui consultants and deep clay art therapy and, most of all, its recent arrivals from New York City.

Jenifer Constantine and Trippy Thompson, bartenders in Williamsburg, found the adventurous loft life there a bit too precarious after the birth of their first child in 2007, and moved to New Paltz to open their own minimalist, Brooklynesque bar and restaurant in Rosendale, Market Market, with a locavore menu and weekly spoken-word slams.

Dave Lerner, a musician, found the Brooklyn life getting claustrophobic and moved to West Saugerties, a placed that seemed different but part of a familiar universe, where there was music and culture but you could bike, hike and breathe.
John Friedman, a lawyer who lived in Greenwich Village, fell in love with Hudson and went from making mostly telecom deals in Manhattan to making mostly agriculture deals in the Hudson Valley.

Kate Doris left her hometown of Kingston as it skidded downward after I.B.M. left in the ’90s. Now she’s back, plugged into the local art scene, amused at the number of her Brooklyn friends who have also moved up.

The greening of the Hudson Valley did not begin yesterday. It’s as revealing for what it’s not as for what it is. And given the comatose national economy, many grains of salt should be added to any rosy projections.

Still, in the best case, it adds up to more than refugees from the city, fair-trade coffeehouses in every far-flung town and unexpectedly cool places and culture — the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, the Last Bite in High Falls, the Wassaic Project arts organization in a refurbished mill and animal auction house.

Instead, you could argue, it’s a new chapter in an old story — Henry Hudson’s voyage of discovery, the Hudson Valley School’s attempt to capture an American Eden, updated for the Twitter era and based around sustainable, human-scale agriculture; manageable towns that are neither giant cities nor cookie-cutter suburbs; a $4.7 billion tourism industry; and the mountains, valleys and rivers of one of America’s unspoiled places.

“We’re in the early stages of a green economic revitalization of the Hudson Valley,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, which half a century ago was at the heart of a battle to save Storm King Mountain, spurring on modern environmentalism.

“The land is being preserved,” he said. “Waterfront parks are being created. Water supplies are being protected. There’s a green economy that’s being born.”

IN the beginning was the river, which the Indians called Muhheakantuck — “river that flows two ways” — because for about half its 315 miles it is also a tidal estuary, where salty water meets fresh.

Life on the shore has flowed two ways, too, through culture and commerce. For almost a century, beginning around 1825, the Hudson Valley was the nation’s first industrial heartland, an incessant bustle of shipbuilding, ironworks, railroad lines, shipping docks, cement, stone, iron, lumber, weaponry and even whaling industries.

The valley was also a seminal creator of American culture, from Washington Irving, who became America’s first international literary celebrity, to the Hudson Valley School and later to artist colonies and the Woodstock Festival. The factories are almost all gone. The cultural buzz remains.

You can pick your favorite current image of industrial past and creative present. The stunning Dia: Beacon collection of massive modernism in an old factory on the Hudson? The exhilarating Walkway Over the Hudson that turned an abandoned railroad bridge into the world’s longest pedestrian bridge? The industrial spaces turned into artists’ studios in uptown Kingston?

But the Basilica Hudson seems as good a snapshot as any. Built in 1884 as a foundry and forge for manufacturing steel railway wheels, it finally shut down as a glue factory using rabbit hide in the ’90s. Almost a decade ago, its 18,000 square feet were reimagined as a local gathering and performance space for ska concerts, avant-garde movies, art exhibits, filming and recording.
Like almost everything in the Hudson Valley, it’s still a work in progress. But its owners, Melissa Auf der Maur, a seriously glamorous Montreal native who has played bass for bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Hole, and Tony Stone, a filmmaker, come from central casting as exemplars of the new, hip Hudson Valley.

The Basilica is the kind of space and scene that the artist and musician Patti Smith (no stranger to Hudson) had in mind a few months ago when she advised young artists that “New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling” and that they should find their futures someplace else, like Poughkeepsie.

“A bunch of my friends from Montreal came to visit and they said, ‘You told us you moved to a small town, but you didn’t tell us you moved to a magic David Lynch town. What is this place?’ ” Ms. Auf der Maur said.

Hudson, she added, has the feel of SoHo decades ago. “There’s the sense that it’s manageable, it’s beautiful, it has infrastructure that can inspire you and facilitate your needs and get you to feel like you’re part of a moment of discovery.”

Not long ago, Hudson was notorious for drugs, prostitution and post-industrial torpor. Now, Warren Street, with its antique stores, galleries and hip restaurants, is a vision of the Hudson Valley reborn. And it was the scene of perhaps the last great battle between the old industrial Hudson Valley and the new one, when a coalition of interest groups came together to defeat a proposed coal-fired cement plant with a 40-story smokestack capable of producing two million tons of cement a year. Opponents said it would be an environmental disaster that would cut off access to the river and go against everything Hudson was becoming. They made an overwhelming case. But in the housing projects and poor neighborhoods just off Warren Street, strangers in the new landscape, it doesn’t seem so clear.

Sitting in a downtown park, Calvin Wilson Sr., 63, said it was nice to see the revival on Warren Street, but it didn’t offer much for him or for young people growing up in a town whose population is almost a third black and Latino, and in which one in five residents is living below the poverty level. “All those old factory jobs, they’ve all dried up,” Mr. Wilson said. “So, where those people going to work? Me, I wished they’d built that cement plant.”

THERE is a parlor game people sometimes play, comparing Hudson Valley towns with New York neighborhoods, said Sari Botton, a freelance writer in Rosendale.

For instance, Rhinebeck might be the Upper East Side, Woodstock the West Village, New Paltz the Upper West Side, Beacon the East Village, Rosendale and High Falls different parts of Williamsburg. Tivoli could be compared to Greenpoint, Hudson to Chelsea, Catskill to Bushwick, Kingston to a mix of Fort Greene and Carroll Gardens.

The migration north began with the weekender incursions in the ’80s and ’90s, gained a more urgent and permanent tone after 9/11, stumbled during the real estate bust and is now finding its way again. But, for all the images of upstate decay, the population of the Hudson Valley is growing more than twice as fast as that of the rest of the state — 5.8 percent over the past decade, compared with 2.1 percent for New York State and New York City. (While there are no universally accepted boundaries to the Hudson Valley, this reference includes the counties north of suburban Rockland and Westchester and south of the capital region: Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia and Greene.)

Add in disparate institutions with some shared sensibilities — Bard, Vassar and SUNY New Paltz; the Culinary Institute of America and the sustainable agriculture Glynwood Institute; the New Age Omega Institute, Dia:Beacon, the Storm King Art Center, the green, hip and upscale Chronogram Magazine — you can posit a synergy that is gaining critical mass.

Some of the growth is an extension of suburban New York into Putnam and Orange Counties. The rest is an exurban phenomenon facilitated at least in part by new technology, the limitations of space and cost in the five boroughs and the natural search for something new.

For some it’s generational. The Hudson Valley seems a cooler and more affordable alternative to the suburbs. David Clark moved to Beacon seeking space for his ceramic tile business, ModCraft, in a place that felt familiar and creative. At 43, he also felt he had outgrown Williamsburg. “At some point you look around and find yourself surrounded by club kids and feel, well, maybe I’ve done this already,” he said.

For others, the Hudson Valley just seemed a natural fit. Amber Rubarth, 28, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter who used to carve wood sculptures with chainsaws, figured she could make music and live a creative life just as easily in Rosendale as in Brooklyn, and more sanely. “I go into the city once or twice a week,” she said, “but there’s nothing I can’t do living here, and it’s nice to fall asleep and wake up to birds singing rather than trash trucks rolling down the street.”
Still, as with everywhere else in America, the question remains: All right, but where are the jobs? Mr. Sullivan of Scenic Hudson said one answer could be the abandoned I.B.M. complex now called Tech City in Kingston. Its 258 acres, 28 buildings and 2.5 million square feet of industrial and office space are envisioned as a state-of-the-art locale for solar, green energy and sustainable agricultural businesses, like bakeries and fish hatcheries. Across the street is the ambitious nonprofit Solar Energy Consortium, formed in 2007 to assist and incubate solar and green companies. It’s an alluring vision.

Whether it becomes reality is another matter. Todd Roberts, chief executive of one of the firms there already, Solartech Renewables, is enthusiastic about the site and the industrial solar panels his company makes, but realistic about the obstacles ahead.

“We know it’s going to take root somewhere, but if the market doesn’t grow here, and the subsidies don’t change in China, that’s where it’s going to be,” he said.

If you were an investor wagering on any Hudson Valley city, it might be Beacon, with a world-class attraction in Dia:Beacon, its walkable downtown, and an emerging art scene a 90-minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal.

But you would still be hoping for the best, as you would with almost every place in the area. Maybe the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, a proposed 58-room hotel and spa, with a fancy restaurant and living and work space for artists, will succeed, and revitalize an area of shuttered factories and warehouses. Maybe the historic downtown theater will reopen, and the old incline railroad will be rebuilt. But maybe not.

On a summer Tuesday afternoon, it’s still a ghost town.

Tim Davis, 48, in Chicago Bulls cap and colors, has lived in Beacon almost all his life, but he is moving to Atlanta. “There’s no work here,” he said. “Basically they’ve turned this place into Antiqueworld. When we had the factories, this was a money-making town. Now it’s not. Everyone I know is moving to the South.”

At the Morphicism gallery, the proprietor, Jay Palefsky, offered a cheerful greeting: “A customer! In Beacon!”

So many people have moved to Beacon from Brooklyn that people now call it NoBro, he said. He would like to buy into the hype, but he doesn’t see it. The economy is dead. The Internet has killed downtown commerce. He has seen well over a dozen businesses come and go in the five years he has been in business. “People want the access to the city without the craziness of the city,” Mr. Palefsky said. “But this just needs a lot of variables to make it work. One is the economy, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. Sorry to be so negative. I just don’t grasp the optimism.”

But optimism is one thing you find in the Hudson Valley, to an extent not seen elsewhere. It is true that, even here, it takes more than art, farm stands and caffeine to make an economy work — especially for those who don’t make a living with a laptop or a paintbrush. But in a culture sometimes whipsawed between a desire to be in the middle of the storm and to be a million miles away, the Hudson Valley offers the promise of both, the upstate hills and quirky towns just 90 minutes from Manhattan, said Bradley Thomason, who moved his small technology and organizational development consultancy, Miraclelabb, from Manhattan to the mighty metropolis of Accord last year.

“This isn’t like the tech revolution,” he said. “I’d be worried if there were some big kaboom Hudson Valley moment. But I think what you’re seeing is a slow progression toward something that can sustain itself.”


 

By Peter Applebome, The New York Times

 

Ulster County Real Estate Statistics, First Half 2011

by Ben Shor

The following statistics were taken from the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These statistics include all single family homes sold in Ulster County that were listed on the Ulster County MLS. We will be comparing statistics for the first half of 2011 with the first half of 2010.

 

You will see that there were major changes in the Ulster County real estate market when you compare the first half of 2010 with the first half of 2011. After two years of stable prices, there has been a noticeable drop in the median price of single family homes during the first six months of 2011. In addition, the number of homes sold has decreased significantly, single family homes are on the market longer, and they are selling for a lower sale price to list price ratio.

The median sold price for single family homes decreased by about 9% when comparing the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2011, from $214,000 to $195,000.

The number of single family homes sold in the first half of 2011 decreased by about 28% when comparing the first half of 2010, from 509 to 369. You may remember that during the first half of 2010, there was an 8% tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expired at the end of May 2010. During the first half of this year, there was no tax credit, which reduced the urgency to buy.

The sale price to list price ratio decreased by about 2% when comparing the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2011, from 93.89 to 92.07%. That means that in 2011 the average single family home sold for about 8% less than the final listing price for that home.

The number of days a sold house was on the market from the time it was listed until the closing date, increased by 14 days (about 8%) when comparing the first half of the first half of 2010 to 2011, from 180 to 194.

The number of single family homes listed in the first half of 2011 decreased by about 5% when comparing the first half of 2010, from 1,656 to 1,579.

The average sold price for single family homes increased by about 12% when comparing the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2011, from $234,563 to $261,861. The main reason for the increase in average price is the greater number of homes sold for over $500,000. In the first half of 2010, ten homes sold for $500,000, and in the first half of 2011, 23 homes sold for over $500,000.

 

After falling sharply in the second half of 2010, mortgage rates climbed in the 1st quarter of 2011. Strength from a variety of economic indicators including consumer spending, confidence and even housing led the 10-year Treasury higher. This pattern dragged the rate on the average 30-year fixed upward with the Treasury. As a result the spread between the 10-year and the 30-year FRM shrank. This pattern is likely to reverse course in the 2nd quarter as fighting in Libya and uncertainty in Egypt have caused oil prices to spike. In addition, the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan impacted supply chains necessary for production by U.S. firms. The combined effect was a reduction in economic growth in the 1st quarter. This unexpected shock drew down expectation for economic growth and the 10-year Treasury. Mortgage rates have followed suit and were well below 5% as of May. Rates are likely to remain low in the near term, but are expected to reach 5.6% by the 4th quarter of 2011.

Selling a home with a Well or Septic

by Above Grade Home Inspections

 

Listing and selling homes in a challenging market is hard enough, don't leave key inspection items open to interpretation. There are many "unknown" factors when dealing with wells and septic systems. The following items should eliminate many questions and pitfalls that occur during a home inspection.

 

#1 Certify the distance between the well and septic components - By far the most important item on this list! I can't count the number of times I have arrived on an inspection to find out the distance between the well and septic leaching field is less than 100 feet apart. This is an immediate disqualifier for several mortgage types. Above Grade Home Inspections uses high frequency technology and video equipment to locate and mark out all the system components. We can provide the homeowner and the prospective buyer with a distance certification and map. We also flag all the system components for easy location.

#2 Shock, aka, chlorinate the well - It is very important to periodically shock the well, especially after the recent winter and heavy rains. Large volumes of surface and ground water are entering our wells. In some cases carrying harmful bacteria that can be easily treated. One failed potability test typically results in 15 extra phone calls. Many times the prospective buyer wants a full water treatment system installed for a simple failed water test! In most cases, a simple well shocking and proper testing procedures results in a positive outcome with unnecessary aggravation.

#3 Pump the septic tank - Is there an inspection that goes by when the buyer doesn't ask the age old question..."when was the last septic pumping?" You guessed it NO. Why not have the answer before they ask? If the system hasn't been pumped and cleaned in over 3 years, chances are the buyer is going to ask the seller for it to be done. A recently pumped system will make the prospective buyer feel more confident.

#4 Locate and flag the well location - Ever try to find a 6" well cap in 2 feet of snow? Under leaves? Hidden in landscape? In can tell you first hand it’s not an easy task. In a perfect world the well head is sticking out of the ground and easily visible. In some cases older well heads and pressure tanks are located in well pits underneath the ground. These areas need to be uncovered and accessible for inspection. Don't wait for inspection day to inform the buyer you don't know where the well is located. Locate the well, mark it with a stake and flag, and leave a map on the table. Any information about the pump and well equipment should also be supplied.

#5 Perform a water test - Supplying a prospective buyer with a passing water test is a smart decision. After proper shocking procedures have been completed a water test should be performed. The average cost is $25 at a local water lab. This will allow the seller to deal with any water contamination issues ahead of time. It is always easier to deal with issues upfront then to involve attorneys, buyer’s agents, family members, etc.

#6 Conduct a full septic evaluation - In most cases homeowners don't evaluate septic systems until there is an issue. Big Mistake! If any type of septic issue arises on an inspection it’s almost always a kiss of death. Over the years the costs of septic repairs has been over- inflated by the internet and TV advertising. A simple fix can turn into a $10,000 credit by the prospective buyer. A recent septic evaluation and a clean bill of health will speak volumes.

#7 Maintain water treatment equipment- Got a water softener? Fill it with salt. Have a whole house filter on the water main? Change it. Does the home have a chlorine system to deal with sulfur? Fill in with chemicals. You get the picture! I fail to understand why the new buyer has to smell the foul smell of sulfur water throughout the house when there is a system. Or hard water deposits on the plumbing supply equipment when there is a softener. Simple maintenance is easy and inexpensive. Simply changing filters and wiping down the systems will give the treatment equipment the look of a properly maintained system.

#8 Locate and flag septic system components - Buyers want to know where the septic system components are located. This is an issue that doesn't go away. More specifically the location of the tank, the distribution boxes, and the leaching fields. Many deals have fallen through because the buyer thought they could add a pool or a garage only to find out the septic fields were located in the same exact area. A simple map won’t do. Mark out and flag the components for easy identification by the buyer, inspector, and appraiser.

#9 Create an information folder - Collect as much information about your systems as possible and create a folder for the inspection day. Items to include: Brochures on installed equipment, chemical and treatment specifications, recent upgrades or maintenance logs etc. Buyers will be very leery if the seller can’t provide maintenance information. Providing information will make the inspector’s job much easier and give the buyer a greater sense of confidence.

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Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

© 2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.®.  Equal Housing Opportunity.