Traditionally, boathouses have been regulated by the towns that the boathouse is in; the new regulations supersede any local rules on boathouses. There was speculation that the APA was trying to increase their oversight of the park by simply changing definitions. The APA argued that “Large structures and intensive use at the shoreline causes unnecessary erosion and adverse impacts to critical habitat and aesthetics and raises questions of fair treatment of neighboring shoreline properties.” The APA wasn’t trying to block waterfront structures used to cover boats or even these structures with a deck on top. They were opposed to property owners building huge structures that weren’t really just boathouses. In a 2002 change to the definition, the APA limited boathouses to a "single story” but the definition did not prohibit large attics (often used by property owners as guest or recreation rooms) and extensive rooftop decks.
On September 21, 2010 the APA once again changed their definition of a “boathouse”.
A Boathouse is defined as covered structure with direct access to a navigable
body of water which
is used only for the storage of boats and associated equipment;
(2) does not
contain bathroom facilities, sanitary plumbing, or sanitary drains of any kind;
(3) does not contain kitchen facilities of any
does not contain a heating system of any kind;
does not contain beds or sleeping quarters of any kind;
does not exceed a single story in that the roof rafters rest on the top plate
of the first floor wall, and all rigid roof surfaces have a minimum pitch of
four on twelve, or, alternatively, one flat roof covers the entire structure; (Flat-roofed boathouses continue to be
allowed even if the roof is used as a deck and includes safety railings. The
deck covers the entire boathouse structure and cannot be constructed above a
(7) has a footprint of 1200 square feet or less measured at the exterior walls (or in the absence of exterior walls, at the perimeter of the roof), and a height of fifteen feet or less. For the purpose of this definition, the height of a boathouse shall be measured from the surface of the floor serving the boat berths to the highest point of the structure.
Lawful existing boathouse structures may be repaired or replaced within the existing building envelop. For those who wish to exceed the size parameters or expand a larger existing boathouse, a variance will be required.” For more information visit http://apa.ny.gov/Documents/Flyers/boathouses.pdf
So what do you do first if you plan on building a new boathouse? The first step is to find out if the APA has jurisdiction over your property by submitting a "Jurisdictional Inquiry Form" including the property tax ID#, a copy of the current recorded deed, a description of the project in question and a sketch. The form can be found here www.apa.state.ny.us/Forms/jiform.pdf . If you have questions the APA can be reached at 518-891-4050.
Next, contact local zoning and see what they have to say. Although you will need a building permit, the Town of Webb (Old Forge, Eagle Bay, Big Moose Lake) will allow one boathouse and one dock per dwelling with not more than one dock per 100 feet of frontage; anything more requires Planning Board Approval. Docks shall not extend further than forty feet or exceed a 6 foot depth of water, whichever comes first. Docks can not interfere with waterflow, navigation or the access to adjoining lots. Docks cannot be wider than 8 feet or exceed 300 feet in area. Docks and Boathouses are subject to a 25' setback for the sides of the lot. The Town of Webb Zoning Office can be reached at (315) 369-3001.
Next you need to contact the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environment Conservation, they both have a say in this process. You will have to fill out the following application http://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/regulatory/jointapp2008instructions.pdf
If you are in Herkimer, Lewis or Oneida County you can reach the Army Corps of Engineer Buffalo Office at (716) 879-4330; if you are in Hamilton or Fulton County call the Upstate NY Field Office (518) 266-6360. You may also need a Protection of Waters Permit from the DEC. If you are constructing, reconstructing or repairing a docking facility for five or fewer boats and encompassing within its perimeter an area less than 4,000 square feet your project is likely exempt from requiring the permit, however you need to call 518-402-9167 to be sure. If you would like additional information please visit this site http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6550.html .
While boathouses are still allowed there are many steps to the process and several organizations to deal with! I hope that this information has been helpful.
Recently, a property listed with Timm Associates went under contract the weekend it came on the market. It was an updated 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath year-round home located on Fourth Lake, with views to boot. It had a lot to offer and it was listed for $429,000. We knew this home would sell to the first Buyer through the door and it did! Over the past few weeks we've received a lot of calls from disappointed would be Buyers wondering how they missed the opportunity to purchase this home. One frustrated buyer asked "How could this happen when the market is slow!?". He was particularly frustrated because he had heard about the property the day we received the listing but was not available to view it in the days following. While there are segments of the local market that remain slow, waterfront is in rather high demand. If you are looking for waterfront properties under $500,000 - you are not alone!
Here are a few tips for finding Your “Perfect” Waterfront Property.
Be on high alert! When a well priced property comes on the market you need to be the first Buyer to get in the car!
Come Armed. Looking at property this weekend? Do you have a pre-qualification letter that can be submitted with your purchase offer? A desirable waterfront property may receive more than one offer. It takes 10-20 minutes to get pre-qualified and it is absolutely a worth-while effort.
Carefully consider if your expectations are in line with your price range.
Don’t overlook homes that have been on the market for a long-time. These homes are often offered at a reduced price. Ask your Realtor why other Buyers haven’t been interested in each property and carefully consider how you feel about each perceived defect. Buyers have different needs; one of these properties may work fine for you.
Keep an open mind - It is highly unlikely that every home you view will be finished or decorated to your specifications. Take a moment to consider what modifications could be made to make the home suit you. Are these issues mountains or mole hills?
Pick the right agent - Does your agent let you know about new listings right away?
Prioritize those “Must Haves” and consider dropping a few.
Most Waterfront Buyers are looking for the following:
- 3+ Bedrooms And More Than One Bathroom
- A Year-Round Home Instead Of A Summer Camp
- A Location on First Through Fourth Lake of the Fulton Chain
- A Terrific View
- Swim-able Waterfront
- A Place To Dock A Boat, Often A Boat House
- A Garage And/Or Close Proximity To The Snowmobile Trails
- A Level Front Lawn For The Kids To Play On
- A Successful Rental History
- Adirondack Décor
Properties with many of the features listed above can sell very quickly and often for a premium price! Unfortunately, the supply of waterfront properties in the Adirondacks is rather limited and it can take years to find one that is suitable. If you find a property that offers 80% of your “Must Haves” you may have just found your “Perfect” Waterfront Property!
If you own property in New York State you may want to take note of an
approaching day. The Fourth Tuesday in
May is Property Assessment Grievance Day in New York (some municipalities may choose to
schedule it on a different day but it is always in May). This year Grievance Day in the Towns of Webb, Forestport and Inlet falls on the
22th. Please keep in mind that your
Assessor does not have any control over how much you pay in Taxes, they only
have a say in the value assigned to your property. Generally, if your full value assessment
reflects roughly the amount for which you could sell your property, then your
assessment is relatively fair. The Town of Webb did allow property owners the opportunity to have an informal review with KLW Municipal, the contractor hired by for the revaluation, earlier this Spring. If you did not explore this opportunity you may want to consider submitting a grievance now.
The process of challenging your assessment is the same throughout the state of New York, details can be found on the New York State Department Tax and Finance website (click here). The same form is used in every municipality. The form, RP–524, can be found by clicking here. In addition to RP-524, you will need to have your own estimate of the market value of your property and supporting documentation. There are four arguments you can use to dispute the assessed value of your property:
A. UNEQUAL ASSESSMENT (in comparison to other similar properties)
B. EXCESSIVE ASSESSMENT (The market value assigned to your property is higher than what you could sell your home for in the current market)
C. UNLAWFUL ASSESSMENT
I imagine that most property owners that file a grievance do so under the claim of an Excessive Assessment. If you recently purchased a property or if you are purchasing a property (for the less than the assessed value of the property) your
contract is all the supporting documentation you need. If you currently have your property listed
with an agent (for less than your assessed market value) then your listing
agreement will serve as the supporting documentation. If you have recently had your property
appraised, your appraisal can also serve as supporting documentation.
In most municipalities you
can fax or mail your documents to the assessor. I strongly advise you to confirm
receipt of all of your documents several business days before the 22th. If you have questions please call your assessor.
Town of Forestport Assessor Phone 315-392-5547 Fax 315-392-4607
Town Of Webb Assessor Phone 315-369-6880 Fax 315-369-3021
Town of Inlet Assessor Phone 315-357-5726 Fax 315-357-3570
When a Buyer and Seller agree to the terms of sale on a property, Sellers and Agents alike usually let out a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the signing of a purchase offer is usually a little early for celebration if the offer contains contingencies. What’s a Contingency? A contingency gives the Buyer the opportunity to reconsider or withdraw the purchase offer if a certain condition is not satisfied. Property Inspections, Financing, Surveys, Appraisals, the sale of another property, Adirondack Park Agency approval of a project - these are all common contingencies. When an offer has been accepted the property is referred to as being “Under Contract” or “Pending”, this status is often followed by “with Contingency”. Until the contingencies have been removed, the Seller’s agent should continue to arrange showings and encourage back up offers. This is even more important in the Old Forge real estate market, because our sales may be seasonal in nature. Financing contingencies are the most common. Obtaining financing for Adirondack properties may be challenging due to several factors unique to our market. These may include seasonal property access, non-winterized buildings and difficulty finding comparable recent sales for appraisals. Buyers will often opt out of looking at a property that is “Under Contract” or “Pending” even when they understand that there are multiple contingencies in place. It is understandable that a Buyer may regard viewing a property that has received an offer as being an exercise in futility. This is not necessarily the case.There have been a few occasions when I have called a Listing Office to schedule a showing and received a response of “No, I’m sorry you can’t show that property because we are receiving (or have received) a purchase offer.” Procuring multiple offers is always in the best interest of the Seller. In fact, the Listing Agent should contact parties that have expressed a sincere interest in the property and let them know that it may be their last chance to make an offer. Unfortunately, not every agent will do this. At this very moment they should ask themselves “Who do I represent?” When a Seller’s agent discourages a second or backup offer they are not fulfilling their obligation to the Seller. The Seller’s best interest should be their top priority! As a Seller, there is absolutely no harm in asking if other Buyers have been given the opportunity to submit an offer before signing. Make sure you understand the contingencies and the impact they have on the possible sale. Keep in mind you will want the contract to clearly define a deadline for when the contingencies will need to be resolved. It is important to remember that it is not uncommon for the Buyer prospect in the second or third position to ultimately become the property’s new owner.
“New York state law requires real estate licensees who are acting as agents of buyers or sellers of property to advise the potential buyers or sellers with whom they work of the nature of their agency relationship and the rights and obligations it creates.” -NYS Department of State
What does this mean to the Buyers or Sellers of real estate? If you have looked at residential real estate or listed a property in recent years, your agent probably asked you to sign an agency disclosure form. All Real Estate Agents licensed in the State of New York are required to disclose their agency relationship and present customers with the disclosure form when assisting with a residential real estate transaction. In my experience, Buyers usually understand that a Listing Agent represents the Seller. However, many Buyers do not realize that properties are actually listed with the real estate company, not the Listing Agent. Therefore, every agent with the same real estate company represents the Seller for every property listed with that company. The Listing Agent is more or less the Seller’s contact person within the office and is often the party that negotiates on the Seller’s behalf.
Does this mean that a Buyer has fallen in shark infested waters when they find themselves looking at a property with an Agent that represents the Seller? No. NY Licensing law dictates the following:
“In dealings with the buyer, a seller's agent should (a) exercise reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent's duties; (b) deal honestly, fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of property, except as otherwise provided by law.”This means that as an Agent, if I am aware of problem with the property I must inform the Buyer, regardless of whom I represent. I can not, however, inform the Buyer of circumstances that would cause the Seller to be unusually motivated to accept a lower offer (without the Seller’s consent). Here are a few examples “The Sellers are in the middle of a nasty divorce, they’d take just about anything to get rid of this house!” or “This house is listed at $299,000 but they told me they would accept $250,000.” Sharing this information would be to my client’s detriment and would encourage the Buyer to make a lower offer. Conversely, Buyers should not give a Seller's Agent reason to believe they would pay more than their current offer. Buyers should not disclose circumstances that would cause them to be unusually motivated to buy. If they do, the Seller's Agent is obligated to share this information with the Seller.
There are many reasons why a Buyer may have a better experience working with the Listing Agent. Usually the Listing Agent knows quite a bit about the property as they have had the opportunity to discuss it at length with the Seller. As an agent, I love the opportunity to assist both parties because I believe it makes for a smoother transaction. Having another party involved complicates communication and may cause the emotions and concerns of either side to be lost in translation. Knowing the personalities of those involved, I can usually dissuade someone from making an offer or counter-offer that may be ill-received and possibly offensive to their counterpart. It is critical for a transaction to commence in a pleasant and amicable manner; otherwise the months to follow can be a nightmare for everyone involved. Since many homes in the Adirondacks are second homes, furnishings and recreational equipment are often part of the negotiations. It’s much easier to mediate when I have a direct dialog with both sides. The knowledge that a particular item is of importance to one of the parties allows me to make sure that all parties walk away from the transaction satisfied. I sincerely believe that Buyers should not be discouraged to work with the Listing Agent on the purchase of real estate. They just need to have a clear understanding of whom the agent represents.
Next week I will explain the concerns of Agency as related to offers and backup offers on real estate…