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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Great Resource for the Hudson Valley

Since 1995+/-, these guys have been putting out an essential magazine for the Hudson Valley.  and it's even more essential now, not because I say it or they say it, but because they are working hard to make it so, as they have done for decades.

https://www.chronogram.com/

https://therivernewsroom.com/


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Bird Feeder Update, and Hot Real Estate market

Like a good Agatha Christie mystery (anyone ever see 1944 academy award nominee Gaslight, Angela Landsbury's first role at 19?) or a Sherlock Holmes yarn, the bird feeder drama took a turn towards clarification.  It was a bear.  How do I know?  First, I was confused at how the bird feeder didn't shatter as it hit the concrete porch - by the laws of physics, and it's construction makeup, it certainly should have.  2nd, there wasn't a seed from the spill anywhere to be found on the ground, and while certainly I could imagine Mr Squirrel and his friends and assorted birds making quick work of the spill, not quicker than I would have noticed the increase in activity since all I really do these days is sit in my man chair reading and watching the bird feeders.

So, 3 evening past, I was sitting here in my well-worn chair, reading, when from the corner of my eye some new shape enters peripherally.  It's funny how the brain works - it works backwards from what is most probable, most familiar, rules them out by process of elimination and continues paging through other scenarios.  So, in this millisecond, I went from bird, child, gardener, neighbor to looking over, 7' away through glass, to see a momma bear with one little cub the size of a soccer ball.  Literally the cub most have been on his first life excursion. Momma is reared up, paws to the bird feeder.  Fumbling for my phone, yelling for lucas, the bear senses danger and meanders off.

So, I owe the Amish bird feeder maker an apology.  It wasn't his craftsmanship.  The bear literally reached up, delicately put two paws on the bird feeder, gave a quick tug, broke the rope, put it on the ground and ate away.


So there's that.

Funny how putting a kid in a classic car with an American flag makes us seem like anti-mask wearing, social distancing denying, open now nincompoops, but we aren't.  We just love our country and the freedoms, be is speech, opportunity, religion, etc... that is part of This American Life.

I remember after the white supremacists invaded Charlottesville VA a few years back and my friend Bryan commented that it was embarrassing to buy tiki torches for his yard at Home Depot since the racists down there were using them in their marches - really sad the flag has the same ability to divide now.

There's also a pandemic explosion of urban flight looking for upstate properties.  I'm not usually as wrong as I was on this one, but any theory I had about depressed demand because of deep cuts this virus is making into the heart of NYC will need to wait, since for now, demand is off the charts.

News article we were quoted in -
http://www.westmilfordmessenger.com/news/local-news/pandemic-driven-house-frenzy-hits-local-towns-AL1159772

I'm still not all that certain for what the future holds, since it seems like a lot of the pain is being artificially delayed with Fed action, with mortgage forbearance action (as opposed to default), with federal stimulus, rent holidays and increased unemployment compensation levels.  But for now, you have a level of activity in an already busy marketplace I've never seen before.  And there is not a whole to sell, so if you are a seller, or thinking about selling, now is definitely the time.

This resale of Farm 33 in Rhinebeck is going into contract for nearly $1m, the largest increase over sales price ever recorded for a Catskill Farms home.



Barn 7 in Barryville went into contract in one week with multiple backup offers.



And Farm 19 in Narrowsburg survived on the market for 5 days before 2 full price offers came through -




The new Catskill Farms Ranch 37 home in Kerhonkson just went into contract -



This Lazy Meadows sale happened on Friday -



And Catskill Farms put 3 homes into contract that aren't built yet.  I fended off another dozen clients with badly executed karate moves.

As someone who values competence, when I read things like the following it makes me sad and mad, not sure which emotion is more pronounced, since I confuse the two half the time, like any red-blooded emotionally challenged American male should -

"In the first six months of 1942, the [U.S.] government gave out more than $100 billion in military contracts, more than the entire gross national product of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6,500 naval ves­sels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles, carbines, and machine guns; and 47 mil­lion tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents, and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.
"The Ford Motor Company alone produced more war matériel than the entire Italian economy. By 1944 its Willow Run plant was turning out B-24 bombers at the rate of one every sixty-three minutes. Henry J. Kaiser, who at first knew so little about ships that he referred to the front and the back instead of the bow and stern, brought the techniques of automobile mass production to shipbuilding. He reduced the time needed to build a liberty ship -- the standardized freighter of seventy-two hundred tons and thirty thousand parts -- from 244 days to 42. A total of 2,710 were produced during the war, each, in Roosevelt's words, 'a blow for the liberty of the free peoples of the world.'
And we can't even ramp up to produce virus tests in this day and age.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Incident at the Bird feeder, and other Hudson Valley Happenings

There was an incident at the bird feeder.  The feeder, which fed an increasing array of birds of red, yellow, tufted and other, was found on the ground, seed spread wildly.  Was it a manufacturers defect - some Lancaster County Amish bird feeder maker who had a weak staple - or was it the squirrel, who day after day eyed it from an arts and crafts column edge, contemplating the length of the jump to the bird feeder?  did he finally make the leap, and was left hanging for his life by his claws on the feeder platform, little squirrel heart racing, his grip tiring, and falling, falling, falling - 5' down, a fall I'm sure he's done a hundred times.  If it was the squirrel, this successful brush with fate will certainly only embolden him, if he is anything like me.

The wreakage was breathtaking in its severity.  On closer examination, I was able to pop the sides back into position, reposition the hanging cord, and put it back into place.  I now watch warily for what may transpire.




I had a dilemma the other day, when toilet paper was still in short supply at the stores.  I had two rolls.  One a very nice triple ply, and another a coarse single ply of whose thin quality I hadn't encountered in a long while and really have no idea how it got into my home.  Anyways, it's allergy season and I go through a lot of tissue paper with nose blowing, so I had to choose which for the butt, and which for the nose.  I don't regret my choice - and it was similar to that of Sophie's - but after a few days of that cheap paper on my ass, I must have stopped by every grocery store, dollar general and grocery score before I found a new supply of the tri-ply.  The question that was logically posed to myself - late at night, when all is asleep and quiet and natural self-reflection creeps in- have I gotten that soft, or is that a fair thing to call a necessity?  When I evaluated my initial decision, i think it came down to which call of nature was going to be most frequent, thus most often quelled and assisted by paper tissue and by far that is the nose during allergy season.

It's busy in the Catskills.  It's funny how time is accelerated.  A week is an hour, a month is a day, in terms of new ways to live and rules around them.  The full brunt of the pandemic reaction is literally less than 7 weeks old and it's hard to imagine life prior.  That said, my initial relunctance to join the bandwagon of 'how robust the real estate market is going to be' has been wholly repudiated.   It's busy out there and our stuff is flying off the shelves.  Our resales across 3 counties, our homes started but not finished and people lining up for new homes.

So all looks really rosy and sure-fire for my company and the lane we occupy.  Which frankly, makes me really nervous, since there is no worst virus in economic life than the contagion of optimism.   I tiptoe forward, with my ear to the tracks, my wetted finger judging the wind, my tossed grass clippings hinting the way.  You may not need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but you certainly need to think before you toss caution to the breeze in this environment.  It could be the classic trap, the trap that catches every real estate speculator at least once in their career.

A life in real estate is like riding a motorcycle.   There are two types of ridings.  Those that have wrecked, and those that will.   Same has been said about real estate speculators.   There are those who have gone belly up at least once, and there are those that will.

At age 50, this might be my last economic cycle, and the last thing I want to do is digging myself out for the next decade of some overconfident doubling down.

Now, mind you.  I'm definitely doubling down.  I always double down.  That's my nature.  I just won't be over-confident doing it, and I'll be keeping my eyes on the exit routes when possible.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pandemic Sales

When the virus lockdowns began, or as the restrictions trickled in, my main concerns were 2 fold.  How to plan for the future, and how to finish the 5 homes we had under construction that were more than 80% done?  What 'more than 80% done' means to my business model is that I'm fully invested, cash in the game, debt levels elevated, etc..., and the ultimate sale rectifies that.

Now, compared to many people who do what I do - though to be honest, it's no one local since the organizational and banking wherewithal exceeds what is out there and available - I keep pretty conservative debt levels, for the risky business I'm in.  My bank lends based on progress, and it barely lends enough to cover the cost of the home (not complaining) meaning the thousand other costs are being paid for by sales and cash flow.  I have a lot of my own money in the game as well as a somewhat safe investment with a decent return - I charge Catskill Farms a little more than the bank, but what's a few hundred basis points among friends.

Anyways, regardless of whose money it is, it would not have been fun to be sitting on $3.6m of nearly completed real estate.  That would lead to intemperate outbursts and short fuses and a general 'sky is falling' overreaction to any day to day issues we have every day.

We also had 4 homes $425k+ on our lazy meadows real estate side go into contract, or sell during this time.












Long story short, with the closing of Barn 35 yesterday, mission accomplished.  No easy feat navigating this brave new world with $3m+ and 12 employees and 14 clients and dozens of subcontractors chirping at the nest for feed, but navigate it we did.  Navigated the building departments (4 of them), the health departments (2 of them), the banks, appraisers, home inspectors, radon installers, spring mud/rain.  Literally dozens of players, each impacted and interpreting the evolving state rules being handed down each day.

So, really, a gigantic shoutout to all these folks for finding a way to help us tip toe along to the finish line.  I know the reason we got it done is because I'm a very forward-looking person, don't tend to get caught on my heels, tend to think many eventualities out with a clear view of probability of each, and have awesome employees and banking and vendor and municipal relationships that count for everything when shit hits the fan.  Everyone thinks they have a good team until put to the real test, which is not when the economy is perfect and people are begging for product.  It's when shit gets real messed up, and you need to have targeted action and you need it done how you want it done, when you want it done so you can inch along, like a blind person with his stick, or how you use your feet to survey the ground in front of you when walking in the dark.

I like challenging times.  It continually proves who we are as a company.  I could've have done without the pandemic, though, and would have settled for a good old fashioned credit crunch stock market correction that knocked all my over-leveraged competitors on their ass, but hey, you can't always get what you want.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pandemic Life in the Catskills

Was at the grocery store, where the line to checkout stretched back an entire aisle.  It was clear that while it was orderly, it wouldn't have taken much for complete order to break down and panic to set in.  Panic is just under the surface.


Of course, when you are standing in a line that stretches down a whole aisle, and that aisle happens to be the treats and snacks aisle, and you are hungry, you end up with purchases like the Oatmeal Creme Pie 12 pack.  Turns out, they are a lot smaller than they used to be, and when i couldn't stop eating them, I threw the rest of the box away, but I didn't just throw the individually wrapped pies away since there was no way for sure to guarantee I wouldn't go dumpster diving for them later, I unwrapped the 5 remaining before tossing them in the garbage can.

It reminds me of when I used to smoke and couldn't quit (long time ago) - I'd buy a pack, and then throw the rest in the garbage, but would invariably go back and fish them out, even if I took the time to break them in half.  Only way to ensure no fishing was to ruin them by pouring water into the pack, or throwing the whole god damned pack out a moving vehicle, which wasn't even fail-safe since I could go back looking for them if not too far away.  Addiction, glad the only ones I have left are less harmful.

I also ended up with Doritos, Gatorade 12 pack, and a few other notables.



I didn't know bird watching was cliche, but appears Im not the only one sitting around watching birds, researching their type, and naming them.  This red bird's name evovled from 'Red' to "Lipstick'. The bird feeders have really become a hit after a slow start.  I seem to have 3 or four types of birds -

Red, or Lipstick for the Cardinal

Tufty, or Mullet for the Tufted Titmouse

Sunny for the yellow one.

Nutty, for the white breasted nuthatch.



This Lilienthal Berlin watch was really impulsive, which was interesting primarily for 3 reasons.  1, I don't wear watches, 2, I've been on the down slope random consumerism, 3, the instagram ad targeted me precisely.

Talk about big data nailing me.   The style, price, need, etc... hit me I guess where I was most susceptible, and now I'm a watch wearer.  While I'm not totally excited about being profiled like this, since they nailed it, I'm ok with it.  I've actually noticed the ads and catalogs I've been served  & mailed lately have been been pretty right on, which I respect, since it must mean that my consumer interests have been refined, curated, and now have a specific identifying trait, which I like to name Tasteful, Restrained, Expensive but not too, Discretionary but Not Dumb, aka TRENDD.  Wow, an acronym without even trying - most times you have to turn yourself in knots to get it to work.


I have noticed now that it doesn't have a light, is not glow in the dark and doesn't show the date.

After I got my new toaster - see previous posts - I started eating a lot of toast.  Which I like with butter and jam, and I wondered why the jam tasted funny and about 3 weeks in looks like my 'jam' was actually sunday topping, sugar free no less.  My ex always says, in moments like this, 'and how did you become a millionaire?" or "and how do you run a $10m company?"  It's a fair point which I ask at times too.


Was out on Luxton Lake Road yesterday, and had to stop by and take a picture of this 2009 beauty we built.  Just a great house.   Less than 1000 sq ft originally, then expanded with the build out of the basement.


And a mini-barn going up in Narrowsburg.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ranch 37, Full Price Accepted Offer, and a few published articles.

Ranch 37 in Kerhonkson NY received a full price accepted offer (with $10k Intent to Purchase deposit to Catskill Farms).   A lot of activity on that home for sure.




I've always been a writer - ton of notes, cards, letters, majored in Journalism at the U of Pittsburgh.  Recently the multi-tentacled impact of the virus on my personal and business life has sparked that writing urge, that had been missing with the routine of challenging, but predictable, empire building.

An Op - Ed published by LoHud.com, a USA Today outlet,
https://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/2020/04/28/let-suburban-home-construction-ignite-post-coronavirus-economic-rebound/3041919001/

An Editorial piece in The River Reporter -
https://riverreporter.com/stories/post-pandemic-boom-or-bust,37157

And an article I wrote last year or so about retaining employees that was published nationally -
https://hillmotleylumber.com/blog/61285/six-field-tested-tips-to-retaining-valuable-employees


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bidding War gone bad

Sold a house yesterday - Ranch 36



Great house.  Was a fully complete 'spec' home when sold, which is a rarity for us.  Typically homes get snatched up before, but I always have a love/hate relationship with homes without prearranged buyers - even after of 20 years of selling everything I touch, it still makes me nervous and dents my confidence to have one hanging around, plus the bank hates it, plus it ties up my credit lines.  On the other hand, it's so much easier on me and my staff to build a home without a buyer since it relieves us of the concerted coordination effort, which is fun, but has risk and takes a lot of time.  So we typically see our specs sell at a bit of a discount because of the lack of 'collaboration and personalization', but that discount is probably also reflected and evened out on the cost side, though hard to measure too directly.

Had the craziest situation last week and if I wouldn't be at this for a long time it might actually piss me off more than it did, though it did greatly raise my temperature for a few days.

We have this new home going up, the last one in our 4 lot project in Kerhonkson.


It's a little smaller than Ranch 36 so sells for a little less, and has been a big hit for us in the Sullivan and Ulster county real estate landscape.  So we get an offer, and the offer comes in slow and low, both are uncommon for us.   Typically, most people like our prices, and act quickly, but in the end we worked it out, and signed an offer to purchase, with no money changing hands and contracts weren't out.   There was also a realtor involved, so I always calculate that in my final cost analysis, since $16k to sell a house is a big chunk, one of the biggest on our costing sheet.

I spend about $120k a year in various marketing media - print, google ppc, and other stuff - and we sell a lot of our stuff directly, which makes sense since we are paying for the exposure.

So, anyways we put this deal together, then this couple from the 516 area code (an area code I've been wary of for a decade plus since they aren't quite my client and prove it over and over) come out of nowhere and have to have it.  I explain I have an offer and if they are interested they must come on Saturday, make an offer on Sunday, and send a good faith deposit directly to me on Monday first thing.  My parameters were clear, and from my experience, I was setting the bar very high, thus showing respect for the first client while maximizing my profit and deal potential.  From my experience, the chances of someone coming up and doing what I demanded to 'get in the action' was extremely unlikely.  

Then, out of nowhere even more, on Friday or Saturday Dylan Taft from Taft Realty writes me an email in all caps 'VERY INTERESTED BUYER' which I hear all the time, including with a client he brought me a month earlier that disappeared as quick as they came onto the scene.  Since this whole deal with his client was even more unlikely than the 516 area code people, I laid out the same deal as above.  If they want it, full price, cash, with a deposit first thing to Catskill Farms monday.

So, as the weekend plays out, the 516 people make a full price offer and promise the deposit (worth $525k), Dylan Taft's client makes an offer, $530k (worth $513k) and I still have the original deal at $506k (worth $480k).

So Dylan Taft's client is dying for the house, but 1, they were 2nd in line, and 2, their offer was $17k less than what I was promised by 516 folks.  She raises her price to $545k, and Dylan lowers his commission to a rate based at $500k, which makes it just a little bit better than the 516 people but not enough for me to reconsider the promise I made to the 516 folks.  The original people i'm not feeling that bad for since they took forever to put in an offer and then they really lowballed me - eventually coming up to something just barely tolerable.

So, I accept the 516 offer, which the understanding - a very clear understanding - that on Monday morning $20k will be coming to be for good faith, 'won't flake' skin in the game.  as anyone who has every built for us - all 250 families - taking direct deposits is common for us.  Don't trust us to care for your money? Don't build with us.

Multiple offers are always tricky, since you are bound to hurt some feelings.  I've done several, though, where the 2nd and 3rd bidders end up building with us for a different house.   The difference here though is that most of the other multiple bid situations I have been able to communicate directly with the buyers, meaning 'no misunderstands or misconstrued intentions'.

So, what happens?  The very small red flags of the 516 folks - I've been at this a long time so I hear things even when buyers don't know they are saying it - come home to roost and they write me an email or phone call or something saying they aren't comfortable with the deposit after talking to their attorney - these are grown people, not kids, and are now reneging on the most elemental part of any deal I was offering.

Thing was though, I had already told the original buyers it's off, and I told Dylan that it wasn't going to work out since his client was always in 2nd position and first position came through and met my deal demands.

So original buyers are pissed, and out since why would they want to do with a me after pulling a stunt like that, and Dylan's person is pissed because she really did everything I asked and it still didn't work out. though the only way she was ever going to get the house was if 516 people didn't work out, which I have no way of knowing if he communicated that or not.


So the dominoes start to fall - 516 people refuse to put down the deposit until contract, and why would I want to spend the next 2 months collaborating with people who can't keep their word on the very first deal detail we put together, out of principal if not actual concern.  The original people are out 1, because i realize the house is worth more than $485k net to me, and 2, because they don't like how it played out, and 3, Taft's person is out because i guess she felt entitled to the house, and possibly was never told she was in 2nd position and would never make it to first unless 516 people didn't pan out.  

So, 2 great offers, and 1 ok one, gone.  In the blink of an eye.

What makes me good at what I do is I am a huge self-examiner when things go wrong, especially if my 'behavior' or reaction caused it - so, that said, I have a ton of opportunity to self-examine since my actions and reactions have been a source of public and private debate for years.

So, I don't think I did much wrong except 2 things - 1, don't ever forget why history has taught me to be extremely wary of 516 buyers, 2, don't rush to communicate with other parties until the deal really is, 'in the bag'.  

The one fact that is true about the current marketplace is that it is very bi-polar.  People want to act quick, but they aren't quite sure, they want a house, but maybe they are actually still deciding while making offers.  So, the market has a completely different personality than it did before, and some of the assumptions that have always been true are less true right now about buyer behavior.

Admirably, as many long term readers of this blog can attest - I haven't called the 516 buyers out by name, even though they literally not only screwed up this deal for me and wasted a weekend of negotiations, they also screwed up the plans of the other people.  People have been named by this highly SEO accredited blog for a lot less.

But as a realtor friend said to me - "Shame on all them.  They should grow up- inventory is horrible, they don't have a house, and you still have something to sell in a crazy good market'.

Truer words have never been spoken.  Touché.


These folks, who did live up to their word, are buying and moving in next Friday.

postscript - not really serious about denigrating an entire area code - 516- but the dead ends and wasted time has been a truism over the last 2 decades.  


Friday, May 8, 2020

Master Carpenter Wanted

Catskill Farms is one of the leading Hudson Valley home builders.

We are looking for an excellent and experienced carpenter who will lead our jobs and job sites.  Responsibilities will include trim carpenter, crew management, punch list completion, building department liaison and subcontractor manager and will report directly to the owner of the company.

This position will pay $70k+ for the perfect candidate, plus retirement and vacation.  Work will be in the Kerhonkson and Saugerties area.

Our offices are located in Wurtsboro NY.

Text 917-838-5342 for more information.

www.thecatskillfarms.com for more information.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

PPP Program

From the moment I started learning about the PPP program, it was clear to anyone with real ear-to-the-ground positioning, this program was going to be a shit show.  The lack of complexity, speed, universal coverage were all elements that were going to make the program unstable.  Lending is a disciplined art, and this was like free-love mud-based body art.  Like I said a few weeks ago, small community banks succeeded in getting this money on the street quickly, and from the start I was concerned about a president who spent his life screwing banks now responsible for the health of small banks.

First, by design, the loans were available to any business that could attest to harm.  Very few businesses have not been harmed - it didn't say harmed 'a lot', or 'seriously harmed' or 'reporting less profit', or qualifying it in anyway.  The application was straight-forward.

2nd, it was clear that businesses of any size that were eligible AND had active banking relationships were going to get this money first.  I deal with my bankers everyday.  I knew who to call.  Also, I had great records and book-keeping, once again attesting to the fact that good books is the fundamental foundation of any business for a myriad of reasons.

3rd, the parameters of the loan - spend it in 8 weeks and spend 75% on payroll - makes sense in theory but not in reality.  Why would a restaurant keep employees when they are not allowed to be open?  The money is better used paying the bills due, so when the time comes to reopen, credit is good, and payables are manageable.  A horse stable with 20 horses will have more expense in horse feed and rent than payroll.  And why 8 weeks?  What happens then?  Artificially keeping employees to get a loan to pay for them?  Not the most sensical approach to self-preservation.  Many businesses will benefit, but as many will just be kicking the can down the road.

4th, the rules are changing, daily, with some weird 'self-policing' of who is and isn't supposed to get this money.

5th, the community banks who made these loans for very little money, did it because that's what they do - help communities - worked 24/7 to get money out the door, are now being told maybe they are responsible for auditing loans, for knowing 'who should have gotten money', and that even they may be responsible for bad loans, now that is absolutely crazy.  Any one who touches or impacts the health of community banks - who already are calculating their exposure in their small business loan portfolio - is creating a disaster of absolute epic proportions, since it's these banks that keep America running and make most of the very small loans that small businesses need - loans that are made based on character as much as credit history.  I know - I'm that story to a T.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Moving, Paris Hilton, Old School Smut and the Voice of the Virus

How can't you be excited when you find your 20 year old copy of Paris Hilton's sex tape (CD actually).  Perversely, I'm listening to Taylor Swift's Reputation - it's not bad. I like her.


And one of the very first, if not the very first subdivisions I did - in Callicoon NY, up on Bayer Road.  I bought 30 acres of big view land from George B, who was an old timer who owned a dilapidated home.  He was a horse trainer at the Monticello race track - old school layered on old school.  When we were renovating the old house that came with the 30 acres, I found his smut stash - literally 60 magazines - Playboy, Oui, Pin-up and a bunch of other classics.  He was a real smut connoisseur.   The comical part of it, in the middle of the the 2 foot stack was a Playgirl - just testing it out I guess.  Good for him.  Eric G, I know you are blushing.


Anyways, my point is, besides my savings bonds and my Paris Hilton tape and few other bits of nostalgia, I came across this.   And you know what, the articles in Playboy are awesome.

I've been inspired by this pandemic.  I don't mean in a happy way, I just mean it's got my thinking juices flowing, and that gets my writing juices going, because at the root of it all, I'm a writer locked in a builder's body!  

That's not really true.  I like building - it's super challenging.  I think my energies are flowing because this pandemic is the real thing, and I think I have a good business mind and it is sparking a constant idea generation of what comes next, what come now, what comes longer term - I like the added risk element.  I'll tell you the least interesting time to be in business - boom times, when even the dumb prosper.  Give me some challenges to navigate.  I'm being facetious of course, but there is a grain of truth to it.



I can't decide how to feel about the future.  I'm getting such mixed signals.  We are busy as hell and people are calling and writing all day long.  And the stock market is stupid - I sold everything I had left today, after liquidating quite a bit at the beginning of the year, and then switching the remaining portfolio weight to a more conservative mix.  Now I'm out, except for my 529.  There just is zero reasons this market isn't going down.

The whole thing just feels like a little bit of denial, that the hope for a quick rebound is clouding decisions and people who haven't been harmed too much are searching for the buy in price and those who have been harmed/closed are banking on a quick rebound.  From a stock market perspective, all you got to do is study the market twists and turns of 1929 to understand how weird and deceptive it can be.  Up 1000%, drops 50%, up in the perfect dead cat bounce deception luring people back in, then a drop of 85% and 2 decades to return to breakeven.

I guess for me the risk is to be fooled by all the interest currently to ramp up production.  I'm just not sure how deep this goes, and how badly the banks get hit.

It's always fascinating, this lane of ours we operate in.  It's so narrow, but we mine it, harvest it, tend it, and it always produces our 8-16 homes a year from our resilient NYC buyers.  And in times like this, why not go with the guy whose been doing it for 20 years?  Why would you get involved with a company on their 3rd home, betting they won't be there when you need them in 2 years?  Tougher the times, the better we look.

Gotta get going - the oven timer is going off, and that means my 3 beers in the freezer are ready to come out.  But who am I kidding, I'm going to have a rye.

The real question is - how many people are, right now, cooling it with a drink, in a home from Catskill Farms, feeling safe and cozy?