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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Open House, Gatsby, Baker, Mercedes and Ulster County Sales

 So I scheduled a model home tour de force today at 21 Willow Drive, aka Lawsuit House, and within 4 hours of the eblast, had covid-safe appointments every half hour from 9:30-3:30.  Could have done 7am to 9pm but have to draw the line somewhere. (update - seemed to have signed up $3.2m of buyers today).

I don't often get to spend a whole day in a house we built, mostly because by the time we are done pounding the last nail, the mattresses are coming in the front door.    But it's nice to get up close and personal and spend some time quietly in a finished home, see the talent of the team, and the inspired work of the client.

Of course I get up, and I bring the Benz E400, and what do I find but that it has snowed, then iced/hardened since we were here last on Friday, creating all sorts of complications for driveway access, slipperiness, etc….

Telling indicator the market is still strong (understatement alert) that a simple Model Home Tour fills up in a couple of hours.  I think that it’s clear that normalcy is still in the distance, and the fact that NYC continues to deteriorate in terms of quality of life, and the fact that so many buyers have not been able to find a home yet will continue to put heavy pressure on the homes for sale inventory.

It has opened the door for more builders and designers to get into the game, but they seem only interested in the high end market, selling ‘design’ as much as quality and square footage.  We’ve always been able to hit all three boxes - design, value, size - in a way others have had a hard time doing.  This helps weather the storms that come and go.

The homes we are currently selling, that were priced back in April and May, are at least $100k under the price they would fetch now, and sometimes more.  It’s a little frustrating, but we’ve calibrated, and more accurately priced our homes, while still being some of the best priced, most sought after stuff on the market.

Our homes are art.   I’ve said it for a long time.  And with this little bugger selling for $500k (I bought it and sold it for $250k) 

Cottage 22 in Barryville in Sullivan County

and this one that was sold for $535k and built for $425k

Barn 16 in Bethel in Sullivan County

and these two which went for $800k+, 

Farm 12 in Barryville, 

Farm 33 in Rhinebeck, 

the proof is in the pudding that our process - creative yet disciplined, fast yet controlled, flexible yet bordered, has enabled us to provide ourselves as a tool for a very talented set of people who have then proceeded to design and build really amazing spaces.  As I’ve said from Day 1, the clients we work with, who are attracted to us, are talented, are creative and are smart, no two ways about it.

Did you know that The Great Gatsby just entered to public domain, 90 years after it was written?  Meaning, anything and everything about it can now be used without any permissions or costs.  I’ve been a Fitzgerald fan for decades, even finding myself in lamp lit university libraries over the years, reading literary criticisms of his work, shadowed by the bulging bookshelves neatly ordered and cataloged.  I own an early addition of Gatsby that a girlfriend gave me back in ’98.  I bring it up because Planet Money, the neat all things money podcast, is spending 4 1/2 hours reading it online, narrated by the voices of the program that we are all familiar with.  I have to say, luckily my interest in the book is great enough overcome their nerdy readings - I don’t think Audible will be knocking any time to narrate Walter Issacson’s biographies of Steve Jobs, Leonardo Davinci, or Ben Franklin.  Welcome to the Public Domain, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Sad to see you go.

This home in squatting in today, like many others, had a problem getting their appliances.  It’s not just new construction, but a lot of people are spending more time in their homes, eating in, are realizing their appliances are lacking, and are insufficient.  Hence, major supply issues.  Nothing more disruptive to our process than a multiple day install.

Just finished a book  -“James Baker, The Man who Ran Washington”, focused on a man who played a part in every major event USA was involved in from 1976-2010, often at the behest or the side of a Bush family member.  Reagan, Bush, Iran Contra, losing to Clinton, fall of USSR, 2000 election debacle.  Interesting for sure, if a little nerdy.  I was reading about the Republic of Georgia overthrowing their government in 1990’s by marching on the capitol just as parts of our citizenry was marching on the capitol.  Let’s be honest, a lot of governments have fallen with marches on the Capitol.  

Amazing how amazing the print version of the WSJ is compared to their TV efforts.  Unfortunately for America, more people watch stuff than read stuff.  One of the billionaire English Barclay’s brothers died last week.  He and his twin built up a business empire.  What caught my attention is they started out as house painters, as I did.  I get it - it’s a skilled job somewhat easily learned where you can make money and the cost of entry/setting it up is minimal.  As an entrepreneur, I see opportunity everywhere I look as I think about how to mentor my son.

Looks like I’ve already sold 3 homes today.  Amanda and the rest of the design staff are going to be pissed - I told them every year for the last 3 we were going to ‘take it easy and scale back some’.  If I’ve practiced ‘deceptive business practices’ like Nerko tried to say when his out of bounds demands were rejected. I’ve deceived my hard-working team to think that the ‘easy year’ is ‘the next year that never comes.’  For 20 years, I might tap the brakes, but not for long.

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