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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another Day, Another Sale (or two)

Well, Mr Turtle may move slow but here at Catskill Farms we are speeding through this recession like it didn't exist. No problems with sales, no problems recruiting new buyers, no problems we can't surmount regarding financing and no problems concerning closing. Easy sailing. Of course, knock on wood, and I think why I find myself heading a home design/build company that is holding its own is partially due to the fact that I have never had the opportunity to become complacent, over-confident or sure of my judgement. I've seen it a few times - a little bit of success after a hard slough and an overestimation of one's judgement/abilities and intelligence leads to unwise and too-aggressive gambles.

Luckily for us, I never had any money, was in debt up to my eyeballs, and was sure, even after 20 homes, that I would sell another one. I think never losing that fear of what lay ahead and the lessons of how quickly things could get expensively screwed-up was a critical factor in our positioning as a company that is strengthening and gaining market share in an economy that is schooling even the most well-financed and experienced. Us, - we're just the little red engine that can.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this lately, but Catskill Farms does not use realtors for the most part to sell our properties. We tried, at the beginning, and discovered that between a miniscule marketing budgets (what, you want us to spend money?), 8% commission rates (that's what we need to keep the lights on!), and feeling the need to exagerate and over-promise our prospective customers, it was a lose-lose-lose-lose proposition. So we took matters into our own hands, market our own properties, show our own properties, sell our own properities and do any of the hand holding that needs to be done during the sales process. And the killer being now that we have mastered this process, we can set prices on our cottages and mini-houses at prices that no one can touch, - even if they could figure out how to meet the very demanding and exact design criterias expected by our customers. I mean, the only realtor who has come close to communicating our design philosophy to his clients is David Knudsen, a buyer's representative who has sold 3 of our homes for close to $1.5m. I think our sales tally exceeds $7m over 4 years - which is a heck of a lot considering how we are IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE - which is actually the beauty of it.

Some of my friends - yes, I do have a few - ask me why I'm always dissin' someone on my blog, and I thought, "hey, that's a great question. I think it imust be a flaw developed by a lack of parental love and being bullied in Jr. High School."

Bought a tractor the other day - 2005, only 250 hrs of operation, bucket, excavator, auger, and forks. Ford New Holland. Now we can really get some work done.

The guy who sold it to me makes his living over the winter plowing snow, hence his signage below.

Played some very bad golf today with Eric, who runs an insurance company on the other side of town. He's also not to badly beaten up by this 'media depression' and agrees that it's a once in a life time opportunity to strategically expand, acquire and purchase - because, in the end, returns on investments never stray too far from the initial basis (or cost) of the investment. Higher cost, lower returns, and now, in this economy, everything's on sale. Eric said his Dad said 'if you can run a business in Sullivan County, you can run one anywhere." Which to someone like myself who has never had the opportunity to run a business somewhere else, is a refreshing thought, - since running a business here could not be harder, from any vantage - labor supply, labor talent, labor reliability, professional expertise, and most all resources needed to run a business are either lacking, non-existent or half-assed backwards - or at least harder to discern the good from the bad than seems necessary.
SEEMS LIKE WE SOLD ANOTHER HOUSE TODAY - to some bigshots from the big apple. I think it's just a great combination - big shots buying small comfortable houses - and we are seeing it more and more. So much more refreshing than the over-extending, over-reaching, and over-dreaming of yesterday. Bravado is out, simplicity is in.
We were lucky to know this before most of the industry, and hence, still find it possible to move some houses.
Thing about it, dog, is Cottage 21 is a hot house - really hot - and I was able to have free reign to design it in any direction I chose because we didn't have a buyer - but now we a buyer, and I'm sure Jeffrey and Norah are going to love this house. Since we had a few extra dollars in the bank we pimped this house out pretty good, with audio/security/6' extra deep tub/extra bathroom/arts and crafts stone pillars out front/and a host of other extras to really make the house special. Doesn't hurt either that a very well maintained sparkling pond sits across the dirt street.

Norah and Jeffrey claim they have looked at over 100 homes over the past 2 years - so, as you can imagine, it's a real compliment they chose our humble little home. It's actually an often-heard refrain - 'we've been looking FOREVER, and we walked into your home and it just felt like a big hug and I can't believe how smart you are and what good taste you have, not to mention how handsome and it's just so amazing I just don't know what to say." (I actually maybe added a little hyperbole and exaggeration in there for dramatic effect).

Great house - 1300 sq ft, 2 baths, 2 beds, 6+ acres, lots of stone and green sage cedar siding.

Here's Norah, really shaking me down -

And an interior wall we built out of beveled siding pickled white, with duel sliding barn doors.

This is a good shot of some exterior siding brought indoors, a hand-hewn beam, a schoolhouse light, a 2 panel door and a galvanized barn sconce.

Cedar closet with our famed strapped hinged doors and the front dutch door.

Some very retro vintage tile in the 1st floor bath. Not a great pic because not fully clean, but looks really great, and wasn't a budget breaker.

So, we also had Courtney and Bronson come up and I believe they are seriously considering building with us, and James got the excavation started on Saturday at Peter's house up in Walton, NY - Peter's a dress-designer who really seems to know what he is doing considering he counts Michelle Obama, Jennifer Hudson and other notables as clients - http://www.petersoronen.com/ - he's building a gothic cottage on top of a mountain.
Well, that's it for me. Quite the weekend (thanks for the budweiser Gavin, but my god, change your shorts), quite an opening to this spring building season. Rock on Catskill Farms.

1 comment:

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