Category Archives: real estate deals

Buying Adirondack Real Estate: Who Does Your Agent Represent?

“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 a 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 a 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 I know will 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.

What is Selling in the Adirondacks?

Surprisingly enough we actually had a pretty busy Summer and Fall in Adirondack real estate.  EVERYONE is looking for a deal in this market!  Unfortunately, deals are few and far between and often receive multiple offers.  While our market has and is still adjusting, I would hardly say we are having the “fire sale” that some Buyers have been hoping for!  The idea that this may be the lowest market the Adirondacks will see in the foreseeable future has increased demand in several segments of our market; namely year-round waterfront and mid-range year-round lake rights properties.  In my personal opinion we are at the “low” for waterfront real estate.  Going forward, the sale prices fetched by those properties currently under contract will have a large effect on the asking prices of new inventory for the next year or so.  It is possible there will still be some adjustment necessary for off water properties.

The properties that are selling rather quickly are year-round waterfront properties (on motorized lakes) in the $350,000 – $500,000 range; if there were more of these available I would have several very pleased clients!  There is also a high demand for properties with lake rights (on motorized lakes) in the $200,000 to $275,000 range.  I have had quite a few calls from individuals looking for off water properties with deeded dock space.  The first four lakes of the Fulton Chain Lakes and White Lake receive more inquiries than the Old Forge Pond, Otter Lake or Sixth and Seven Lake.  Raquette Lake lakefront properties sell rather quickly, however they are rarely available.  Waterfront properties on non-motorized lakes and rivers do sell for quite a bit less than those on more navigable waterways.  I usually ask Buyers a little bit about their hobbies; sometimes a non-motorized lake or river suits their needs and may have been overlooked.  If you are into paddle sports and enjoy peace and quiet then a non-motorized lake might be a budget friendly alternative to the popular motorized lakes.

Seasonal property sales are very slow.  The rising popularity of snowmobiling has changed the demand for Seasonal properties; many Buyers will not even consider them.  For year-round properties, I have noticed a high preference for those with garages and/or convenient trailer parking.  Quite a few investors are interested in properties that can be rented one season and used as a personal vacation home in the other.  My concern is that this possible increase in rentals will flood the rental market, perhaps lowering revenues for those properties currently offered as rentals.

In regard to purchase prices, several years ago low offers were often completely rejected; in this economy Sellers have entertained/countered offers 15-20% below asking.  We advise our Sellers to at least counter an undesirable offer.  When the opportunity to sell presents itself versus continued maintenance and tax bills, sales prices can be rather surprising.  If you would like to purchase Adirondack Real Estate don’t wait for the bottom or you may miss it.