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Friday, January 6, 2012

Cottage 37 Sold - 1 Down in Ulster

Corby and Ben came to us a few months back - veteran homeowners, had renovated in the city, etc..., ie., knew what they were getting into and had high expectations for the process.

And I think that's par for the course - we inspire confidence in people that this process can go well - that it can be fun, inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime. We tout it in our marketing, and we tout it during tours of homes and land - and for all intent and purposes, we achieve it. We are fast, creative and responsive.

Cottage 37 - all 1250 sq ft of it - was our first home in Ulster Cty, a few miles outside of Saugerties NY. I had intended on building over there for years - the same thing happened when I was creating a strategy to build a home for the $300k market during the boom years when even crap was selling for $400k. I knew what I wanted to achieve, but I didn't know the horse to ride on in (which reminds me of when I got fired from Woodstone Construction when I first moved up here - Steve the owner said ' get you and whatever horse you rode in on out of here')

The horse I rode to the $300k price point in the middle of the boom was a smaller house - a counter-intuitive 2 bedroom perfect little house that spared no aesthetic detail, but shrank the floor plan enough to hit that sweet price point. I aspired to the idea long before I figured out how to do it. We have now built around 50 sub-1400 sq ft homes since Cottage #1 in 2007.

Unfortunately, I somehow sent all my final final pics of this home to my recycle bin and had to go fishing for them amongst hundreds of other discarded photos, and documents (reminds me of the sad Toy Story story line with thrown away toys - Lucas makes me watch one of the 3 Toy Storys at least every other day). Problem is, I've only been to this house 6 times during construction, so I'm hoping the pics I've fished out are the right ones for the right house.

I'm pretty sure they are (fingers crossed).

Tackling the Ulster Cty market has been on my mind for a few years as well since that area north of the city (Sullivan County is a lot more west than north) is more of the 'prime-time, go to' area, whereas Sullivan is sort of a little more 'unfound', 'ungentrified', and a little lighter on the amenities like restaurants and shopping (to most of our clients' who choose this area elation). But it seemed logical to me that if our homes were such a big hit over here in Sullivan County, they should be warmly embraced over there as well.

I thought I would have 2 major issues - the first being the competition from existing homes, which I imagined in Woodstock and Stone Ridge and the like was the perfect little cottage at every corner and the 2nd was the worry of confusing the marketplace and prospective client of where to land this upstate dream of theirs. One of the tricks our clients like about our design process is that we lead them down the right alleyway of 4 or 5 great design directions, then drop them off and let them choose from among great options, as opposed to flying solo in front of a computer googling 'lighting' or 'old fashioned door hardware'. For the last 8 years, if you wanted a Catskill Farms home, you came to Sullivan County. In the last 3 or 4 years, if you wanted a Catskill Farms home, you came to southern Sullivan County, along the Delaware River corridor in towns like Narrowsburg, Barryville or Pond Eddy.

Turned out I was wrong on both accounts. Our clients can figure out pretty quickly which area they want to be in and, as importantly, there are not a lot of great little perfect cottages on every corner of Woodstock, Stone Ridge or Saugerties. In fact, the challenges posed to prospective home buyers in terms of too much compromise are just as serious in those areas as Sullivan County - lucky for us, there are a lot of buyers out there who just can't find what they are looking for - because they are looking for perfect, or close to perfect. Just so happens, that's what we sell.

So now we have Woodstock/Saugerties buyers, and Sullivan County buyers. And hardly to the twine do meet. It only takes one visit to each area for our buyers to understand what they are looking for in terms of infrastructure, amenities, and landscape. It's been an interesting expansion.

That's right - I said expansion. In the biggest real estate trash truck crusher of an economy since records have been kept - and here we are, the little red engine that keeps navigating what ever the the macro and micro economic winds throw at us. Know thy customer, and don't be afraid to evolve and change - these seem to be important driving principles.

So we started in July and we finished in December. We sold this one, and one in a few weeks. Pushing $1,000,000 of real estate in an area where I still don't know where the grocery store is (though I did drop something off at the dry cleaners the other day).

This is a fun mudroom - pretty classic and sharply detailed with the wainscoting, the sink/fixtures.

Handhewn posts, cable rail, wide plank floors, 5 panel doors with black iron hinges.

Wood ceilings below.

And a large custom bath with enough pizazz to satisfy any discerning weekender.

So Ranch VI is in contract, Barn V is in Contract, Farm 18 is in contract, Farm 17 is in contract, the Big Barn is in contract, Cottage 38 is coming near a contract, Shack 2 is in negotiations and I'm getting pretty close to putting something together with Joe and Robin for the springtime.

If you got some time for our first ipad video, I've posted it - sure, it's a little raw, but raw is sometimes better than polished - super polished is so 2008.

Cottage 37 Video


  1. Beautiful house Chuck! I love the wallpaper in the bathroom too. :-) Jeanne

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