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Friday, April 30, 2010

Farmhouse 12 Rounding the Corner (and the monthly NYTimes snub)

John and Wendy and their 3 children are building a fun house with us - -a house that John brought to us, he brought just a couple of pictures and then we set out to do the dirty work - which is figuring how to adapt the grand 125 yr old with perfectly non-code shapes and layouts, and how to make that grand old dame work for us in the here and now.

At this point in our business development, we pretty much have it all down pat - we have the talent, we have the experience, we have the team, and we have the relationships to pretty much navigate all the winds that used to scare us to death. I mean, the little breezes used to knock us off balance and now a gale force wind couldn't immediately roll us. Not to say we are invincible - just pretty hardy with all the hardknock lessons we carry around with us.

You got to really feel for the freelancers at the NY Times these days. I mean, here we are, the little red engine of real estate, one of the only consistent dynamic upstate real estate stories in existence, and CJ and Penelope and a host of other pr flacks posing as writers just can't bring themselves to acknowledge that regardless of what their sources say, regardless if their favorite story idea turns out to be a decade long con, regardless if most of their upstate stories over the past 5 years are out of business or a flimsy echo of the NY Times trumpet story, that regardless of being left out of really every article of the past 5 years, Catskill Farms remains one of the neatest propositions in the region, if not the country.

It really makes you feel for these writers, these would be king makers. Like I have said for years - our customers are so smart they can see through PR posing as news 12 miles away. Provide value and they will find you. Provide hype, and they will look, they will ask questions, but the commitment never materializes.

I remember one article Penelope Greene wrote about New Old Houses, a few years back and 9 out of 10 facts were wrong - were hype, were unchallenged assertions made by the subject. Fact checks anyone.

Anyway, good story about upstate today since any story about upstate helps us because it turns peoples' attention upstate - and since we have a decent web presence, - that means more people find us - and once they find us, regardless of the declarations of the king-makers at the NY Times, they get it.

I love educated customers. They get our proposition immediately. They take our idea really seriously because, in the end, it's doable, it's attainable, and it's realistic.

I remember when I used to care - back when we were really desperate and really pioneering and really out on a limb. Now, the press game is a goal - but one born out of ego and always having a desire to reach goals, not out of some need to sell homes (which we have been sold out of for years).

Lisa and I and Lucas went into the city for 2 days and Lucas and I were tooling around yesterday while Lisa was having her hair done and I came across a store named Willoughbys, which specializes in camera parts, etc... Anyway, I finally invested in a wide angle lens, so hello panoramic room shots, hello small house big pictures, hello making our homes look even better. I always tell people when they call that we are the only real estate players whose homes look better in real life than they do on the internet (after a photo shop workover). Nobody believes me until they come up.

John was all about his porch, and the porch is a monster, with a rounded look on one side and a screened in porch on the other, rolling from one end of the house to the other.

It's a big porch project and we waited until the spring to build it so we would have good weather and we could really nail the details John and Wendy wanted.

We were in the city for Wednesday Thursday and Friday and really hit some hot spots. Standard Hotel beer garten, Old Homestead Steak house, Henry Public in Brooklyn and stayed at the W in Time Square. All a little fast for us squares from the country but I'm hoping we didn't stand out too much.

I hope all the readers who lived in the city got to steal away and enjoy some perfect spring weather over the past few days. Doesn't get any better.

(This is a re-post, due to now-solved Facebook issues.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Easter in the Catskills

(Please note this has been reposted due to a facebook feeding issue).

Easter Weekend was exciting, culminating with a big Easter Egg Hunt in our front yard. Pedro, pictured above, proved most adept at egg hunting, racing ahead of the children to find all the no-brainer hiding spots. We had so many eggs over such a small hunt area it was like shooting fish in stocked pond (I think that's the right country cliche I was hunting for). Pedro and his partner David purchased Cottage 23 from us back in November on a property located on 8 acres just behind our house. He did write me the other week indicating that he is an accomplished Tenor, not Soprano, as I inaccurately wrote in a post long ago. We're looking forward to some serious music lessons for Lucas on their piano, since they are both musically inclined.

That's Gavin, the founder and former publisher of Vice Magazine, in the background, looking pretty spiffy in his bowtie. And our Neighbor Theresa was providing security.

Below the pre-party preparations, with lots of threats coming from Lisa about touching the chocolate covered strawberries. Sippy cups on the left, bloody mary glasses on the right.

As can be seen, no such early imbibing rules were placed on the bloody marys, which Chris and I dug into early. Chris and Alison were in for the weekend from Richmond, VA, where Chris runs a store Lisa used to work at (when she used to work - sorry lisa, couldn't stop my fingers from typing). Need Supply Co.

That's our kitchen - pretty fun and well styled. A couple of times when I got way ahead of myself early in business and ended up way behind the eight ball, Lisa's decorating sense definitely helped us sell a house or two.

It was sunny - real sunny. Unseasonably sunny. Duncan and Lucas going for a ride in the red wagon my dad had made for Lucas' first birthday.

Is that Dexter Poindexter or Gavin M?

And Lucas at the Park in Glen Spey.

I'm really falling behind on the blogging this month of April but no worries, I'll catch up. We are busy building Cottage 25, Micro Cottage 3, Farmhouse 13, Barnhouse 2, Cottage 28, stuff at my office, as well as tidying up a few houses we sold over the winter, as well as buying 6 new pieces of land, as well as developing a half dozen new designs, as well as building out the DIY Blog Cabin ranch red0.

Our team is good. And on the construction front, the construction management front, the design front and the development front - can't really be matched - all for the benefit of our customers and clients.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Very Cool Homes

Now, it seems like it should be obvious, but I do want to point out that this blog is a marketing technique/method that we use. It's not supposed to be balanced, fair, weigh-all-options type of narrative. I mean, does Coke feel overly boisterious when it claims to be the Real Thing? Does Apple feel cagey when it's beating up Microsoft? Does Verizon feel guilty when embarrassing the heck out of AT&T? Heck NO! So, I guess what I'm saying is that while this blog is a journal of our journey (or a journey journal), my immodest trumpeting of our frickin' phenomenal success in the teeth of the Greatest Recession Seen Since The Great Depression (news media claim, not mine) is not meant to be interpreted as a reflection of me, - a pretty level-headed, modest, fellow (yea right!). Lisa knows best how arduous this journey has been, and the blog has been a great, unchallenged outlet for a good writer with something to say about the war and victories being waged and won each day/week/year.

Anyway, somewhere over the last year I started using more exclamation points for some reason, like that funny Seinfeld episode.

Here's our office, located in what was the repair garage of the local school district.

After 60+ homes, this shit still happens to us - a fireplace guy broke into one of houses, went through a house with tape and big skull and bones signs indicating not to enter because we had only just stained the floors and although the stain was dry until the polyurethane is applied, it's in an incredible vulnerable condition - the guy proceeded to do this damage to the sheetrock, evidently thinking he was doing us a favor, trying to figure out what was wrong with the non-working gas fireplace.

James and I often joke that we pity the people who try this business up here. It's tough. We make it look easy, but it's tough. Real tough. Even after 7 years.

Here's a pic of my man Tito painting the interior of Micro-Cottage 3. The coat closet on the left and the refrigerator closet on the right are clad with salvaged barn siding. This house is 780 sq ft +/-.

And Richard's 1100 sq ft barn/loft. I love that siding color. Great house, for sure.

Lot of stuff going on inside this home. Upstairs double barn doors on tracks in the 1 bedroom, looking down to the fireplace and the great room happenings.

And Fabulous Cottage 25, coming along nicely. I love it when we experiment with new siding stains and chimney stones and everything works out fine.

A clean organized job site with the wood floors and ceiling wood wall coverings acclimating over a 2 week period. Behind the wood is the wood stove enclosure lined with Bucks County Ledgestone.

And Farm 12, a 2400 sq ft beauty. Funny - we could fit 3 of our homes inside this one - not that this house is so large, actually being less than the size of the average american home, but because some of our other homes are pretty small. Not small in living space, not small in comfort, not small in glory - but small when measured in pure square foot terms.

A pretty significant back porch is planned for this house. Stay tuned.

Jake playing in the stream on this property. The Farm 12 owners just had twins last month, bringing their family to 5.

And here comes Jake up Tuthill Road.

Ferocious. And Fast.

That's it for now. Enjoy the Easter weekend. We are planning an egg hunt or two.