Selling your home? Get real on price

ANCRAM–Only two months into the New Year residential properties sales in Ancram are already at more than half the total number for all of last year.

That’s the good news, according to Susan Crossley, co-owner of Crossley-Redmond Realty in Pine Plains, who was invited to the February 17 Town Board meeting to give an expert’s-eye-view of the state of the local real estate market.

Based on information from the Columbia County, Northern Dutchess and Mid-Hudson multiple listing services, Ms. Crossley, who has been selling real estate in the area for 17 years said that over the past seven years,“2005 to 2007 was the height of the market and since then many, many properties have been consistently overpriced.”

The reason properties are not selling is because of a lack of buyers, but also because the properties are priced above market value, she said, noting that in most cases even sellers who have cut their prices are still asking too much.

“What I am saying is that these properties haven’t lost value just because their listing prices have been reduced …I am saying that they were never worth those inflated prices,” she said, noting that properties that have sold in the past four years were properly priced to begin with or had their prices lowered to a realistic number. 
With that said, Ms. Crossley noted that two sales of properties with price tags greater that $1 million apiece have sold in Ancram in the past four months. Before then the last time a $1 million+ property sold was in 2008.

She broke down sales over the past four years as follows:

*So far this year, four residential properties have sold, a double-wide mobile home on 3 acres for $70,000, a modular ranch on 10.7 acres for $230,000, a condo at Long Lake for $525,000 and a turn-key gentleman’s farm on 40 acres for $1,450,000.

*In 2010, 6 residential sales and 1 land sale ranging from a handyman special on 3.5 acres for $95,000 to a new house on 36 acres for $1.7 million (a price not paid since 2006), the other sales were all lower than $400,000.

*In 2009, 8 residential sales and 1 land sale, ranging from 3 acres for $85,000 to a house on 6 acres for just under $600,000, most of the other sales were under $400,000.

*In 2008, 9 residential sales and 1 land sale ranging from a foreclosure on 3 acres for $132,000 to a contemporary on 15+ acres for $1.1 million, all but one of the other sales was less than $400,000.

Currently, according to Ms. Crossley, there are 41 listings on the market in Ancram: 23 residential, 13 land parcels, 2 farms, 3 commercial properties and 2 multi-family homes.

Prices on the residential properties start at $65,000 for a handyman special and top off at more than $5 million for a farmhouse on 140 acres.

The 13 land parcels are priced from $35,000 to $950,000.

Many of the current listings, including two commercial properties — the Ancram Post Office complex and the Simons General Store — have been on the market for more than five years.

In closing, Ms. Crossley said, the local real estate market is also affected by “all the post crash factors such as uncertainty over employment, unemployment, debt and stricter mortgage requirements.” One additional factor is that the local market “is largely a second home market and no one has to have a second home,” she said.

She advised people who are considering selling their property not to start with a price that is the amount they think they have to get, but rather to look at comparable properties and the price at which they have actually sold in the past year to six months.

She said sellers should not listen to anyone but their real estate broker (not their gardener, plumber, stock broker or uncle) when it comes to pricing, adding that “a property is only worth what someone will actually pay when you are ready to sell.”

In other real estate-related news, Town Assessor Ken Leggett reported that the state Office of Real Property Services has decided that the town’s equalization rate for this year is 112%, which means properties are currently assessed at 12% above fair market value.

Mr. Leggett said he will therefore drop the assessed values of residential properties by about 10% to get them near, but not below 100%.

In all his 30 years as an assessor, Mr. Leggett said he has “never dropped anything.” He advised taxpayers not to get too excited about the news, because their taxes will stay the same.

To contact Diane Valden email

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