Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast
June 7, 2022

Boom! Catskills Real Estate with Peggy Bellar

Boom! Catskills Real Estate with Peggy Bellar

Just a few years ago, the coveted Catskills "cabin on 5 acres" was priced at $300,000, give or take. Today, that same property could easily cost you double. Real estate in the Catskills is booming, and while housing markets ebb and flow, according to realtor Peggy Bellar, there's no significant retraction in the forecast. Bellar showed us three properties in Delaware County as a sampling of today's housing inventory. Come along for the ride and join our tour, plus listen in on the latest trends shaping the housing market, including short-term rental investments, and work-from-home professionals embracing the country life. 

Thanks to the Catskill Dream Team, and to our sponsors:
The Mountain Eagle, Hanford Mills Museum, and the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce

--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/kaatscast/support


You're always gonna have boots, heels, sneakers, salt, it's about trying to change that out, and a COVID kit. Typical Realtors trunk. Welcome to Kaatscast, the bi weekly Catskills podcast covering community, history, sustainability and more. This week with Catskills real estate booming, we jumped in the car with a Delaware County realtor to get a sense of the market, how it's changed, and where it's going. Kaatscast is supported by the Mountain Eagle, covering Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie counties, including brands for local regions like the Windham Weekly, Schoharie News, and Catskills Chronicle. For more information, call 518-763-6854 or email, mountaineaglenews@gmail.com. I met up with Peggy Bellar of the Catskill Dream Team, a realty office on Route 28 in Margaretville. Before we set out to see some houses, Peggy showed me around the office and showed off some unique amenities for Catskill's House Hunters. When we were looking for a space, we were looking for a rental space, and there really wasn't anything available that made sense to us, and we had this little house listed. And I said to my business partner, you know, 'Why don't we consider buying Ray-chol's house?' and he's like, 'Oh, that place, I don't like that place.' And I'm like, 'That's because you're thinking of it as a residence on Route 28. It would be an amazing commercial space,' I said, 'come in with some new, you know, glasses on and look at it.' And he looked at it, and he agreed with me, and it was kind of perfect, it has this really sweet outdoor space with a fireplace, I've got gardens that I keep up and an old chicken coop. And when people walk in, they get this feeling like I want this, but on five acres in the woods. And it gives them the pleasure, the number one thing they need to do when they come here is use the restroom, they've been in the car for three hours, and keep a ton of local products on hand and we just have a chance to sit down, do our thing before we take them out. So this room is where we oftentimes meet clients, you know, it's got this kind of homespun feel. But we've got the big gigantic Apple TV that we can show people. You know, interesting things about the day when people come up here, they don't even have any idea of the relationship of some of the villages they've shown us. I'll have people sending me listings from Hudson to Cooperstown and not really understand that there's a massive distance between them. So this gives us a chance to pop it up on the screen. We show them the route for the day, talk about the various areas and really look at documents in an easy way. One thing that's been really nice about having an independent brokerage is we were able to just kind of do whatever the hell we wanted, you know, and it's been a lot of fun to think outside the box and spend more money than we should and just enjoy a little bit what we're doing. Couple of those things where we bought this truck a couple of years ago. And now we are able to loan out this 12 foot box truck to our clients and free of charge is filled up with gas and give us their insurance information. But they can use it to move stuff, pick up stuff that doesn't fit in their car, or barbecue or whatever and, you know, borrow it for the day. That's amazing. And then this little guy here, this is a separate studio from our office. So we took this little space and we made what we finally call the dream suite totally gutted this space; it was really gross, it had a drop ceiling and smelled like cigarette smoke and had these weird little partition walls up. And so I took all that down, renovated this space and now clients can stay here when they're looking for houses. Wow. Free of charge over the weekend. Just pay for a cleaning cost. That's amazing. And I learned a lot too because you know, as a real estate agent, you're often in this situation where people say like, 'Oh, you know, do you think I could take this wall down?' and in this case, the walls didn't even go all the way to the top in this section. So I knew that could come down. And many times I waved my arms and say 'Oh absolutely. You can take that wall down.' After taking the wall down, I learned waving your arms and saying how easy it is. It's a whole other story. This was a significant investment of time and money I would imagine for a space that you're renting on for free to clients. Yeah, it was. Like I said we've done some things that don't necessarily you know make the best financial sense but we love it. All right, so we're gonna do a little House Hunters Catskill style here. But the difference is I'm not buying a house. You're lucky to not be buying a house right now. It's definitely a time to be selling your house, not buying a house. You know the market has been consistently exploding is the best way to describe it over the past three years. And it literally went off like a, like a little, you know, bomb at the start of COVID. Prior to COVID, the average days on market was 220 days up here. You know, people from the city would come up and see a house that had been on the market for two months. And they'd be like, 'Oh, what's wrong with this house?' and you'd be like, 'Nothing's wrong with the house.' It's just, you know, it's a different market. It's a second home market, no one has to sell their home and no one has to buy a home. But that really flipped for the past year. I pretty much plan on putting a house up on a Monday or a Sunday night, and hopefully we have an in contract by the end of that week. And that's been fairly consistent across the board. Does that go for all price levels or a certain type of house? That's a great question, because in the Catskills in general, we've always had this kind of sweet spot with houses. And that is what I call the cabin on five acres, everyone comes up and wants to have a cabin on five acres. Pre pandemic, these houses would sell like, you know, $225 for one that needed some TLC. And you could get a pristine turnkey, Instagram worthy one, maybe even some of the furniture thrown in for $325. Since COVID has happened, we watched that segment of the market literally more than double in some instances. Now you can't even find one that you know, if it needed really a lot of TLC, I'm sure it would sell somewhere in the mid three hundreds, maybe higher. And routinely towards the end of last year, we were selling that house in good condition, you know, the perfect condition at $575. So this year, one of the early listings that came on close to Belleayre, you know, I put it on and I thought don't let me put it on at $575 because that's where we were landing. And we had a house that it is not close yet, but it is going to be north of $700. So it's been crazy. I think right now I'm seeing a little bit of an adjustment start to happen. Nationally, we're looking at interest rates changing, and that has had a little bit of a cooling effect. Globally, I think just with all the political unrest, you know, it always has an effect on people and how they think and you know, especially with major investments. And beyond that, there's a little bit of fatigue from some of the buyers who have come four, five, six, seven times put in bids and lost out. I've actually seen more and more where some of these buyers are asking their agents to do previews and FaceTime tours, because they're like, I don't want to drive up there to look at this house and I might not get so it's a very you know, it's a very strange market, it has been firmly in the seller's court. But I think that there may be some slight tapping in the brakes, a tiny bad not matching. Is there any separation between the second home cabin on five acre market and the full timer just need a house market? One of the things that's been really distressing to me personally, is the fact that it is so difficult for local professional people and young families, you know, trying to find homes it is next to impossible. Based on the typical incomes that people are making here. They're really getting priced out of this market. And even it's fascinating and this year, the thing that I've seen more than I ever have in the past is the rise of the pure D investor coming in. Pure D investor? You're wondering, 'Nope, it's not an investment term.' By now you've likely noticed Peggy's is not a New York accent. She grew up in Mississippi and she throws out a southern term here and there. Pure D it turns out has southern roots and means thorough going or unmitigated. Okay, so back to that Pure D investor. In the past year, you always had people who would be like, 'Oh, I want to buy this house. And maybe I'll use it for a short term rental on the weekends. I'm not using it or they may have some plan that they want to rent in the summer because I only come in the winter when they're skiing.' But this year, I have literally seen people that are coming from all over from, you know, downstate, from other parts of the country and they're buying investment properties. 100% they're using it for short term rentals, and they're paying premium premium prices. That's been a big dramatic change. So it's made it very tough for a lot of people who have traditionally enjoyed, you know, the housing prices and being able to have a way to live comfortably here. That's depressing. It's a little depressing. It is, it really is. I think there's a great need for more affordable housing, there's a great need for some new construction. And I've been really lucky, I've been working with this guy who is an investor. You know, at this point, I don't even know how many properties I've sold him probably 25. But he's got a mix in his portfolio, you know, he's opened some new restaurants here, he has bought and flipped a couple of houses. But he's also just bought tons of super rundown houses, fixed them up and provided a lot of apartments for local working people, which has been really great. And that feels nice to see someone doing that. So you don't think this is a bubble then? I don't think so I think that, at some point, you know, we'll see a leveling of prices. Originally, I kind of thought, you know, we're gonna see this thing pass, and prices will adjust down. But the truth of the matter is, our prices have always been, in some ways really undervalued. It's a unique area. You know, I always tell people, it's never going to be the Hamptons, because of primarily all the tracts of land that are owned by New York City in the DEP, you know, as a result, you end up with this beautiful, you know, pristine swaths of land that are undeveloped. But for the same reasons, you're never going to see a Starbucks on the main street of any of these villages. You know, we drive one hour to get to a big box store, if you want McDonald's, you know, you're going to be 40 minutes to get to a McDonald's. So it's very appealing to some people and other people, you know, really like to have the country experience but with a main street full of the things they're used to at home in their daily lives. So I think that we're going to see an adjustment of sorts, but I don't see it really going backwards. I think we're in a big shift in how people view work how people view their work life relationships, particularly with this younger generation, the ones that are you know, buying houses and starting out young families. After the break, Peggy shows me three houses her office has listed in Delaware County. But first a message from our sponsors. This episode of Kaatscast is sponsored by the Hanford Mills Museum. Now open for the season. Explore the power of the past as you watch the waterwheel bring a working sawmill to life, bring a picnic to enjoy by the millpond. For more information about scheduling a tour or about the museum's new exploration days, visit hanfordmills.org or call 607-278-5744. Kaatscast is also sponsored by the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, providing services to businesses, community organizations and local governments in the Central Catskills region. Follow the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, you can sign up as a business member and subscribe to a weekly email of local events at centralcatskills.org. Catskill Dream Team as a member of the chamber. Are you? House number one is literally one mile from the turnoff to Bellearye Ski Resort. So you can imagine this is a very popular location for numerous reasons. And this house is kind of an interesting one. It's a second time I will be selling it. I sold it for the first owner several years ago and at the time, when he was telling me about his saltwater pool and ozone operating chem free hot tub, I was like, 'Oh boy, that's so awesome.' But most people don't know about it. And people really weren't in the pools that many years ago because the pool life is kind of short here. But now I'm telling you everyone wants a pool. Everyone now understands the saltwater pool. People love those cam free hot tubs. So I think the house is going to do really, really well. And this new owner, super smart guy who did all the right things on this house to make it comfortable for people, particularly if they want to use it as a rental which he was doing. So you know he's done smart things and made it a smart house you can now control the systems of the pool from your phone. And he's got a robot that cleans it and really the only manual part of that is you know having someone come in and bring in a hose every three weeks or so to top it off. So this house is really interesting the way he's laid it out when you walk in we just came in from the garage and we walk right into this small bedroom. The original owner kind of use this as a bedroom because he was living here full time. But with the advent of this being a short term rental, this has been converted into one more space. Short term rentals you're always going to make a little more money. With the bedrooms and the bathrooms. This is an alta log home. This is a very traditional alta layout where you've got you know, kind of opened down here with a kitchen and family area and a loft upstairs that's very, very common you see this over and over again and houses of this era but what they did here was tack on this edition which makes a huge difference you know, both in terms of brightness because it's full of skylights, but it gives you a larger family area which a lot of people are looking for these days, you know, the deck wraps completely around the entire house. Little path through his garden there's a blue stone area out there with a fire pit. He's kind of check off the boxes on this one; close to Belleayre, fire pit, pool, hot tub. He's got it all; lots of bedrooms. He is selling this house furnished so conceivably you know you could literally buy the house and rent it the next day so it's ready to go. You know typically up here most of the houses like this size and they are I call the cabin on five acres for a reason. They usually are cabins on five to 10 acres occasionally you'll see mine that's more on the three acres but up here it's very common unless you're in a village. So this is the cam free hot tab. This pool is crazy. It's so pretty. Wow, the pool is indoors. Isn't it cool? He painted these walls in like this dark color with that light wood and then you got this sparkling blue pool. It's so pretty and a cedar wood burning finished sauna. High mount log home on five acres, 1956 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, wraparound porch, screened gazebo sauna, hot tub, and an indoor heated saltwater pool. Listing price $599,000. And now on to house two. So this next one we're going to is Tunis Lake. Tunis Lake is super, super cool. It was built in the early 1900s. And it was like a Catskills camp and for a while it was a boys camp with little cabins, and it's a 23 acre lake. It's beautiful. It's private. The only people that can use the lake are people that own property within the homeowners association. It's always one of the ones that takes a little longer to sell. And I think in part because, you know, there's some pretty hefty fees up front like there's a one time transfer fee of $7,500. And then it's $855 a year for the homeowners association. So that kind of self selects in a way. Tunis Lake is officially in Bovina. Bovina is kind of like the, you know, the Fifth Avenue of Delaware County. It's the Tony address, you've got brush land eating house where people from the city will literally drive up to come to this restaurant and turn around and drive back, and the tiny little russels General Store and a farm market and it's a postage stamp of a main street. But it's a very, very wealthy affluent area. There are people that have bought large 200 acre farms and it's a very interesting, very creative community. But Bovina can be a little bit far and it's not on the main corridor you know you kind of have to make a plan to go to Bovina but what's cool about Tunis Lake is Tunis Lake it's kind of on the edge; it's closer to like that Andes' borders than Bovina proper. So I think it's a great location. This one is pretty new construction, which is not as common in the Catskills, you know to see. Has this beautiful wraparound ponds not particularly deep but it's spring fed and very clean. The property goes down in this direction. I think the views are probably the biggest selling point on this one right? The views are spectacular. This dining room. Oh. Wow. Isn't it fabulous? I love this like floor, the windows all the way around. Windows on three sides of a dining room looking out. The mountains and egress right out onto the deck. It's very nice. I like this you know, you still get that open concept thing with the kitchen and the living room all you know being open, but having this dining room separate a little bit. I think it's cool. I like it a lot. On our MLS we are not allowed to include the square footage of a basement even when it is 100% finished so the square footage listed in that does not include this massive, fully furnished basement, which is just incredible. So we have this huge space complete with bedroom area, entertainment area, laundry area, and a full bath. This even has its own entrance to outside its own patio, you could lock this off and rent this downstairs separately from the house or vice versa. Could be you know, if you put a little kitchenette down here, you'd have a complete mother in law apartment. You know, people a lot of people come up here and they want to have the, you know, very rustic and they're willing to put up with wood that's harder to clean and all this and there's a lot of people to that want to have something that feels a little more like what they're used to but in a country setting and I think this really fits the bill for a certain segment. Contemporary Tunis Lake home, gorgeous wraparound views with private access to tennis courts and lake, 5.2 acres, 2008 square feet plus a finished basement, three bedrooms, four baths, private pond. Listing price $750,000. And finally, on to house number three. The house that we're going to is listed as being in Stanford. When I went there, I'm like, 'This is not Stanford.' And I think it's because the parcel is so large that in some part of it, it's touching Stanford town of Stanford and so you're paying your taxes there, but the house is actually in Bloobville. And truthly it is you drop over Bramley Mountain and you're right there at the house right at the base and Bramley and it's as much Bovina as it is Bloomville. This one has had it for a long time, he was very interested in fly fishing. And this property is surrounded by New York City land, which makes it truly unique. When you're standing on that apple orchard and you turn around, you can see what you're going to see forever because there's really going to be no development around there. It's something special. And on the backside of the orchard, you go a little bit further and the land drops down. You're on New York City land and you can walk right down fly fish, bring a trout back, cook it for lunch, you know, that was really his whole thing. And over time, he started creating this amazing event space. He's renovated this barn It is unbelievable. And he's been Airbnb, Airbnb-ing. That's hard to say. He's been short term renting the house and doing weddings and events in the barn. He was doing some events before but primarily outside in this beautiful orchard. But now this barn I mean, it's it's something special. This 18th century farmhouse on 44 acres, features walled gardens, an apple orchard, and a giant dairy barn; a portion of which has been converted into a luxury event space with the dining area leather club chair conversation spaces, a grand piano, and seemingly hundreds of flickering LED candles, which Peggy dutifully turned on before she let me step inside. When you're looking at this barn, you know, it's a big, probably 14,000 I would guess - I haven't truly measured this thing - square foot dairy barn with two separate ramps on this side, you've got the farmer storing a tractor on the top. And there's a working barn on this and then this side is something you rarely get the chance to see. Wow. It's incredible. I love the moment of bringing people in here because the first thing it is is just wow. It's incredible what he has done in here. Grand piano. Yep; the piano was in the house until two weeks ago, just got moved over. It smells good in here; all that leather and wood. I know. It's very cool. I would love to have an event in here. Right? You and me both. One thing that's very unique about this is just this incredible amount of original stonework, you know which is beautiful. That was a 150 year old smokehouse, which now has the barbecue hidden in it. And tucked away behind the Stonewall is his hot tub. So once you get through this big open field, which is so beautiful, you see this next level of rock wall which is very unusual, you know, I'm sure you're familiar with all this stacked stone walls and how they come to be in Delaware County. But this one with the top and the larger rocks Incorporated, it's it's very unique. And when you pass into here, you're now into the apple orchard. And this was where he was doing a lot of events and parties prior to the barn being renovated. You can see you kind of have this beautiful alley that separates the orchard on two sides. So you just run those tables straight down the middle. And you turn around and look at what you're seeing on all four sides. It's mountains 360. So this house has two bathrooms. The light in here is beautiful. I think he did a gorgeous job of keeping the character without making it too overdone but very functional. And you know you have a gorgeous French stove and all the traditional details from a federal style farmhouse. 12 over 12 windows. These are original, phenomenal floors in here, just beautiful. Tons of character. Tons of character. It's also got a great smell. It does, doesn't it? So when you come up here to the second floor, it divides at the top and you've got a winning of bedrooms on the right and wing of bedrooms on the left. All the rooms have closets, which is very unusual and houses from this era. So we'll take the backstairs down. And there's a dinner bell here. Yes. Ring the dinner bell. I love it. 1790s federal style farmhouse, 4188 square feet with six bedrooms and two baths, shares 44 acres with a two story dairy barn plus apple and pear orchards, a pond, and panoramic mountain views. Listing price $1.5 million. If I had to pick one, I'd go with the high mount log home with that amazing indoor pool and comfortable accommodations for many weekends of ski vacation fun. But I'm out of luck, it seems. Peggy tells me it's in contract for about $150,000 above the asking price. The Tunis Lake home is still available though for $750,000, and the 18th century farmhouse-barn combo it's available, but the listing price just increased to $1.64 million. I'm glad I came up here when I did, and I hope you are too. But if you're considering selling, now may be a good time. Many thanks to Peggy Bellar and the Catskill Dream Team for showing me around, and thanks to our sponsors, the Mountain Eagle, Hanford Mills Museum, and the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce. The Catskill Dream Team and this podcast are both proud members. Links to our sponsors and lots more at kaatscast.com Kaatscast is a production of Silver Hollow Audio. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you again in two weeks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai / JL