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Rockaway Re-Renovated

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Finally! The Rockaway house is vacant and spruced up once again after 3 years of dweller wear and tear. It’s going on the market right this second because if I waited for every little detail to be finished, it would be 2020. I so wanted to finish the basement, but I’ll leave that as an option for the purchaser. Either I can do it for a higher price or they can finish it.

A few new painting techniques and Ikea hacks. Whaddya think? Who wants to buy it?

The Ikea Maskros pendant lamps in the living room above didn’t hold up so well after 3 years. The paper “flowers” totally wilted. I was bummed to find out that Ikea doesn’t offer replacements, you have to buy a whole new fixture. F dat! I stole someone’s ping pong ball idea online and I’m lovin’ it! Ten bucks for a bag o’ balls.


This mudroom had a simple painted plywood floor that needed refreshing. I used a damask stencil that I happened to have lying around. Because plywood isn’t smooth, it came out a bit sloppy. What’s the solution to sloppy? Distress, distress, distress! After some sanding, it looks like I meant to do that.


Guess what? The pipes froze this year. And burst. Luckily, I was there to know they had broken because I was unthawing them with a heat gun in the basement when the water starting pouring out. Emergency plumber guy had to break through the walls in the bathroom. The pipes WERE insulated, but sadly the insulation had shifted. Insulation is now taped on and not going anywhere. I lost my original wall technique which I wasn’t in love with anyway. The new copper patina matches the copper sink.

There’s still loads of touch ups and basement and exterior tidying, so it’s not open house worthy yet. But appointments. Appointments I can do.

DIY Buying Your First Home

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I’ve covered Home Buying 101 before here, but it’s a spiel that never gets old. There’s always someone somewhere buying their first home without an agent who is in need of answers to some very important questions. The subject has come up for me once again since I put the Rockaway house on the market For Sale by Owner.

For Sale by Owner means that the house is not listed by a broker (even though, in my case, I do have a real estate license).  A prospective buyer is free to use a buyer’s agent and in most cases, the commission comes from the seller if they are agreeable to working with a broker (ask in advance!). Sounds great for the buyer, right? You’re getting representation at the seller’s expense. The problem is that the commission leaves less room for negotiation on the asking price, so at the end of the day, the buyer may be the one paying that fee after all. This may be more of a problem with FSBO’s who are going that route instead of through an agency because they can’t really afford the fee in a slow market. The MLS system does exist in NYC but once you look outside of those homes, a buyer’s agent may get the cold shoulder.

So, if you find a house on your own and don’t have an agent to guide you, what are the steps you need to take?

1. First and foremost are the financials. Talk to a bank or mortgage broker to see what you can afford. Then look within that price range. Don’t look at homes that are $100k over your budget expecting them to come down in price. Do what you can afford.

2. Consider all factors. Is the neighborhood improving? Does the house have rental income that will help pay your mortgage? Are interest rates about to go up? (Yes, hurry!). What are the taxes like? For instance, homes are way less expensive in NJ or Upstate but taxes are nuts and the commute costs more. Are you really getting a bargain?

3. Flip, renovations and as-is. Well, if you’re a reader of this blog, you know I lean heavily towards as-is. But that’s me. I like working on houses and I’ve done it enough times to know what’s in store. With renovated homes or flips, you don’t know what’s being covered up. If you know the specific developer of a place that’s holds your interest, please do yourself a favor and Google them for complaints and reviews.

4. Ok, so you’ve looked at a few houses and there’s one that you want. You are able to present your proof of mortgage or cash along with your offer. Otherwise, the seller should not take you seriously. (You hear that, first time sellers?) It’s 2015. You may make the offer via phone, text or email. There might be a game of ping pong back and forth until you and the seller agree on a price. Sadly, there might be a few other offers and you may have to come back to present “best and final” offer. It’s not always the person with the highest offer who wins the game. Cash trumps mortgage. A higher down payment may look better. A faster closing. Or maybe a delayed closing. It’s really up to the seller.

5. They’ve accepted your offer! Ok, so here’s where I tell you that I have a friend who has spent thousands on various home inspections because she got accepted offers on places that weren’t right for her. That’s WITH an agent! One place needed more work than she thought. One place was listed even though the owner wasn’t really prepared to sell. Oh gosh, there’s more. So many that I forgot, but I’m pleased to announce that she is in contract now! Anyway, this is my way of telling you don’t spend the money on the inspection until you KNOW you want the place. But if you are sure…hurry up and get the inspection!

6. Oops, maybe this next one should’ve been step 4. The attorney! Make sure it’s someone who does real estate. Not a divorce lawyer or an ambulance chaser or an entertainment lawyer. Someone who knows the game. They will come into play after the inspection when it’s time to go into contract, but you want to know you have them on your team beforehand. Don’t go searching the yellow pages for a lawyer once you walk out of inspection.

7. It’s not really the attorney’s job to do pre-contract negotiations. It’s their job to make sure everything is carried out as agreed upon. However, if you don’t have an agent and think you suck at negotiating and wish to be represented, by all means, you can pay your attorney to do this for you. The inspection is very important. Read it carefully. Ask questions. The seller should be agreeable to fix certain items as long as the price agreed upon wasn’t as-is condition. And by certain, I don’t mean everything. Stick to hazardous conditions and important issues. Don’t make a fuss if there’s a cracked switch plate.

8. Have your down payment ready because you’re gonna need it once you sign contracts. This is your last chance to pull out without repercussions. Make sure you want that house before you sign!

9. Now it’s up the lawyers and the banks. You’re still not home free with the mortgage until you get the commitment letter. The bank needs to do an appraisal and FYI, it doesn’t always work out as planned. That may or may not be a reason to negotiate again or walk away or just come up with the extra down payment if the bank isn’t going for it. It happens. Then there’s a title search. It’s all about the pins and needles for about 2-3 months. Just do your part and supply everything that’s asked of you from your lawyer and bank.

10. The day before closing you’ll have to get your insurance and utilities lined up (start working on that beforehand!) and have your checks ready.

11. Keys at closing. The house is yours. And then the fun begins…..

Rockaway Beach Home for Sale!

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It’s time. The Rockaway house has been rented out to awesome tenants for over a year and a half now. Although I was going to wait until their leases are up (in July) to put the house on the market, an interested party got the ball rolling. That deal may or may not go through but now the tenants and I are itching to know what the future holds, so why put it off?

The Rockaway Beach 2 family home was purchased as an investment property in the summer of 2012. The intention was to renovate and flip. Then along came Hurricane Sandy before the renovation was complete. The house survived with minimal damage but the Rockaway real estate market did not. Now it’s been over two years and still not much is on the market, but that means more buyers for moi. It also means appraisal may be tough without any comps.

So, you wanna buy it? I’ll be showing mainly on Saturday afternoons. Check out the house page and get in touch for an appointment!

For sale by owner (a licensed real estate agent).  Asking $425k and not terribly negotiable.

**Oh, and I should warn you that the house does not look as pristine as it does in the 2 year old photos! It’s very lived-in now!

Just a taste of what we did to the house below. Lots more on Flickr before and after.

Downstairs Living Room


During Demolition



What we did:

Removal of carpeting, 2 layers of linoleum and 2 layers of wallpaper.
Skimcoat and paint.
Repair of original molding.
Salvage original floors.

Upstairs Kitchen



What we did:

Painted plywood cabinets.
Removal of drop ceiling tiles, linoleum and wallpaper.
Sheetrock ceiling, skimcoat room.
Install ceramic tile with border.
Mexican tile backsplash.
Reclaimed wood counter.
Paint antique light fixture.

Pink Bathroom




What we did:

Remove closet on right.
Remove wall between tub and toilet.
Retile with 4×4 pink and black tiles.
Install new mosaic tile floor.
Create sink vanity out of cabinet.

Bed Stuy 3BR Duplex for Rent

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Our tenant is buying a house! That means our upstairs apartment is available.  Who wants to live with the coolest landlords evah? Available mid June or July 1st. $3200.

The Neighborhood

The home is located in the south west end of Bed Stuy. This means the A train express stop at Nostrand Avenue is only a block away!  Foodtown at Restoration Plaza is a decent supermarket and there are a few smaller groceries around as well. There are 3 wine shops within walking distance and some great restaurants, cafes and vintage shops, although we won’t lie….the neighborhood can use some more restaurants. The YMCA on Bedford is pretty awesome and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Planet Fitness to open up right around the corner on Fulton Street.

Bed Stuy consists of treelined brownstone streets and super friendly people.  Meaning, you should get to know your neighbors if you want to make the most of it here.


The Apartment

The upper duplex was renovated in 2006 and will be updated again in early June. The apartment is currently full of boxes as the tenant is moving at the end of the month, so these photos may differ a bit from what it looks like at the moment as they were shot awhile ago.

The main entrance is on the parlor level and your private entrance is upstairs. The third floor has high ceilings, 2 marble mantels, original shutters and of course, hardwood floors.


The galley kitchen features a hand painted antique tile backsplash on one side and tin on the other. Stainless refrigerator and dishwasher, plus over the stove microwave. Floors are tumbled marble.

To one side of the kitchen is a large L shaped living room. You have the option to use the separate room on the opposite side of the kitchen as a formal dining room or a third bedroom.  There is a full bath with clawfoot tub located in this room.


There are two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs with a walk in shower and washer/dryer. This level has 3 skylights, but the ceilings are lower.

The apartment has zoned heating, which means you control it, we pay for it.

The House

We bought the 4 story brownstone in 2005. We fell in love with it because it retained so much detail but we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us to restore it back to it’s former glory. We had done some extreme DIY renovations in our day, but this was by far the biggest project we ever took on! It took us 9 months just to finish the duplex. This involved running new plumbing, heating and electric as well as restoring the walls, flooring and woodwork.

We live in the lower duplex with our menagerie. They wake us up at 5am and we’re falling asleep by 9pm.  Pets are welcome, but smokers are not. Sorry.

$3200 per month plus stove gas and electric.

**Disclosure: Owner is a licensed real estate agent.  This is a no fee apartment.

Detroit for A Thousand

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1200 sq ft 3 BR

If you could buy a home in the toughest area of the United States for a thousand bucks, would you do it? Detroit is auctioning off some of their abandoned properties for as low as $1000. The catch is, it must be brought up to code within six months and you must live there for 5 years.

Now what’s your answer?


1600 sq ft 3 BR

As a seasoned renovator, the house part would be a no brainer for me. True, we could be looking at a $200k renovation since these homes lack all of the essentials. Copper pipes and other items of scrap value have been ripped out. So basically, you’re starting with a shell. Still, a $1000 shell is a bargain.

As someone who’s never been to Detroit, I have no idea.  From what I’ve read, Detroit sounds like that Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.  From what I know of the musical and industrial history of the city,  it CAN make a comeback.

Would I do it? No. I have a life here in NYC. That being said, if I was a young freelancer with no responsibilities yet, I’d totally grab a bunch of friends and try to make a go of it there.


1500 sq ft 3 BR

Prediction: Artists and scrappy young folks will take the Detroit mayor up on his offer and where they build, people will follow. Soon it will be all “Artisan Detroit”, and people will start naming their dogs “Detroit”. It will be edgy and artisan at the same time.

Don’t believe me? Just remember that you heard it here first.  From someone who’s old enough to remember abandoned buildings in Manhattan that could be had for a song.  If I knew then what I know now.

Glenlo Abbey, Galway

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Firstly, I’d like to let it be known that I do not travel in style. A cheap motel is sufficient for me as it’s an upgrade from my backpacking days of staying in crowded hostels.


Common areas of the hotel above and below.


Last night we stayed at Glenlo Abbey in Galway, thanks to a discounted package deal. The 5 star hotel is a step up from County Meath’s Dunboyne “Castle” of our first night…and not because it’s got that one extra star but because it’s actually a historic property.


The view from our room (overlooking the parking lot) is the amazing grounds with the River Corrib in the distance. If golfing is your thang, this is a great place to be. Since we don’t golf, a muddy walk down to the river and a run back before the next rain was sufficient.


The biggest bummer was that the Pullman Restaurant is currently closed for the season. The antique train car restaurant doesn’t have heat or air conditioning so it only opens when the weather is perfect…which is never in Ireland. I so wanted to eat here!


We went for a pre-dinner drink in the bar downstairs that looked like a dungeon. I mean “dungeon” in the best possible sense. I would live in a dungeon if I could!


Dinner was in the abbey instead of the usual restaurant because of a private event. We thought this would be way cooler than dining in just the restaurant, but the wait staff must have been concentrating on the event and we ended up with the gardener or bell hop as our waiter. Whatever he was, he wasn’t a waiter and this vegetarian ended up tasting some liver dish. Ugh! Smooth out the consistency and slap some fancy name on it, but this old Jew can still recognize chopped liver after 27 years. Anyhoo, this fella was nice enough and the food was ok once they got the dishes right.

So, this hotel gets a thumbs up from me. Decor kind of reminds me of Mohonk Mountain House. Very helpful staff too!

Under 100k Upstate. Part II

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Yesterday we looked at some fixer uppers in The Catskills in the under $70k price range. Now let’s see what $70k-99k will buy you. As mentioned in Part I, I’m holding broker links back because I may have interest in looking at these for myself. So, contact me if you’re interested and I might or might not hook you up…depending on how I feel. Kidding. I’ll be nice. Maybe.

That cute red house above is really not that old. The 1 BR, 1 bath home was built in 1980. It doesn’t look so small in the picture, but it’s actually tiny at 498 square feet. It sits on less than 1/2 acre in Hunter, back a bit from the road (Rt. 23-A). $75k.


Another red house! This one has been vacant for years and probably needs everything, maybe including well and septic. The 1890 house is a decent size compared to the first one and yesterday’s. It’s 1320 square feet on 3 acres. Here’s the beautiful thing… It’s in Gardiner. That’s top notch, yo. Just take the New Paltz exit off the Thruway and you’re there in about an hour and a half. $82,500.


This lovely view comes with a 1593 square foot house on 1.2 acres in Pine Hill. Where’s Pine Hill? Near Belleayre and Phoenicia. The view is more impressive than the 1961 house which looks half renovated. That’s a plus, since the work was already started. It needs siding as there is currently exposed insulation (looks new) and there are some new plywood subfloors inside. Actually, maybe it needs more of an update than a renovation. $99k.


For 99k, this house is habitable and can be worked on over time unlike some of the others. It’s a whopping 2120 square feet on about half an acre with a dilapidated garage. Built in 1951, it’s located in Lake Katrine, which is actually pretty beautiful. The house is right near the Esopus Creek. That is awesome 90% of the time. The other 10%, means this house is located in a flood zone. Oh, and there’s a trailer park across the street. $99k.


Hey, this one is actually NOT a fixer upper! Well, that’s no fun for me. Located in Chichester, which is also in the Phoenicia vicinity, it’s 831 sq ft on a quarter of an acre. There’s a wood stove for those winter ski trips and taxes are under 1000! $99,900.

5 Digit Upstate Fixer Uppers

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Yes, they exist. Five digit homes in Ulster and Greene Counties for under $100k. And I’m not talking slightly under. I mean like starting at $50k. Of course these are all handyperson specials. Some of them are beautiful waterfront locations. That used to mean it was desirable but after Hurricane Irene swept through those areas, it’s actually a drawback to be near water. Oh well, did I mention how inexpensive these homes are?

Here’s the deal. I’m not posting listing broker links. You know why? Because I’m interested in seeing a few of these babies for myself. You can either contact me and I may swing up there with you as a buyer’s agent whilst checking it out for moi as well….or you can do your own research. Hint: You can do a Google search by image now.

The one above is my favorite (that I chose to actually share. Yeah, that’s right…I’m keeping a few for myself. MMMWWWWHHHAAAHHHAAA!!!!) It’s the ultimate farmhouse restoration project. Located in the village of Catskill within walking distance to shops and restaurants. Nearly a quarter of an acre on the main drag (as in small town main drag). Priced at $70k.


Under 1000 square feet on 0.8 acres in desirable Rosendale. I know “desirable” is realtor’s speak, but guess what? This realtor actually DOES lust after Rosendale! It says the owner is willing to consider all offers. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…The asking price? 49k.


Again, a small house, coming in at 720 square feet. This one sits on nearly 2 private acres in Accord with creek and waterfall! The 1938 home is in need of total rehab (as they all are) and is going up for auction. It will probably have to be all cash. $63,700


1953 Cape on .32 acres in Saugerties. 2 bedrooms in 855 square feet priced at $69,500.

There were more! In the $70-$99k price range. Ah, I’ll get to them tomorrow.

Enough with the Renting!

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Are you pretty well set in your career and still wasting money on rent?  Come on, take the bullfighter by his nuts and let’s get this show on the road. From the Bushwick native getting angry about gentrification to my Williamsburg friend Judy who may get lucky enough to be bought out by the building’s new owner, it’s time to make wine out of those sour grapes!

Ok, so I don’t know the Bushwick woman’s situation. On the other hand, Judy is sane enough to know that her eviction can potentially lead to something positive. She has her head on straight and will do the right thing. But for those of you making excuses as to why you can’t buy your own place, I’ve got counter logic. *This doesn’t pertain to you if you really don’t want to/cannot own for good reason.

So how is being priced out/evicted a positive thing? Well, I’m a firm believer in “Something better will come along.” That better scenario is YOU becoming the property owner so that nobody can control your housing situation ever again. Unless of course, you default on your mortgage or you happen to live where some developer wants to build a stadium.

Prices are too damn high? Well the first thing you need to ask yourself is why you are being such a diva. No, you don’t have to live in Cobble Hill/ Park Slope/ West Village/ Williamsburg/ insertoverpricedneighborhoodhere. Get over yourself! Haven’t you heard that Queens is the new Brooklyn and The Bronx is the new Queens? Parts of New Jersey are affordable. What about Yonkers? Did you know that you can get a cute Victorian for $150k in Beacon? Look at this $28,900 house in Newburgh! Holy crap, I might buy it myself!

Down payment and loan issues? Ok, lemme go back to my first house when we didn’t have a pot to piss in and my credit was in the toilet. Luckily, our mommies helped out. We are far from being trustafarians and in fact, my folks were totally working class. But a few dollars from each mom plus a co-signing from my mother on the loan helped. Unfortunately, not everyone has family members (Don’t forget to hit up brothers and sisters!) who can help.

So, you gotta come up with your own shekels. Do you realize how much you can actually put away if you tried? Give up the lattes, the cigarettes, the beer. Cook dinner instead of ordering in. Use coupons. Skip the vacation. Buy second hand clothes (It’s vintage. It’s cool.) It won’t be terribly fun, but give it a shot for a few months and you just might come up with the closing costs (yeah, don’t forget to include that).

Buy a fixer upper. You don’t want to or you don’t know anything about renovating? Boo hoo. Learn how, you milksop. Buying a “renovated” place does not mean it won’t turn into a money pit. Do it yourself so you know what’s behind those walls. Pay less. Work on it over time. Put some sweat into it.

“But I’m not handy.” There are people out there who fix drains and roof leaks for a living. They are called contractors and handypersons. Hire them. But really, you should have a basic understanding of your house because a large percentage of these folks will rip you off. True story! Or just buy a condo and pay for maintenance.

Finally, try for a two family. Let those sorry ass tenants pay your mortgage this time around. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Swimming with Whales in Rockaway

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You don’t need a stinkin’ chartered boat to see whales. Nor do you need to schlep out to Montauk. Check this out. There have been whales hanging around Rockaway for a couple of weeks now. They’ve been spotted anywhere from Beach 90th to the Beach 120’s. How cool is that??


4 Renovations That Can Decrease Resale Value

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By Tali Wee of Zillow

Purchasing a home is typically the most expensive purchase a person makes in his or her lifetime, so it’s understandable why buyers are focused on a property’s small details. Searching for a home can be discouraging, especially in competitive markets where properties sell quickly, because shoppers don’t have much time to make decisions. For that reason, home sellers should prepare their homes to make the best impressions on buyers.

Some features that often deter home buyers from making offers are elaborate additions that the current owners made with the intention of adding value to their homes. For example, a homeowner may have dreamt of having a koi pond someday; when it’s finally a realistic possibility, the owner installs the large pond in the averaged sized backyard. After enjoying the ideal pond for years, the homeowner decides to sell the home thinking this addition should increase the property’s value. Instead, the specialized feature limits the number of interested buyers since many prefer additional yard to a koi pond. The installation then represents a renovation the buyer would have to make, possibly reducing the purchase price they’re willing to pay. Calculating the costs of a mortgage, the interest over the life of a loan, the price of property taxes and insurance, in addition to renovating the backyard can be overwhelming for potential buyers.

Before homeowners get carried away with making renovations and anticipating positive returns on their investments (ROI), consider avoiding these four projects that may decrease resale value.

1. Swimming Pools

Just as the koi pond is a deterrent for some homebuyers, so are swimming pools. Buyers might be disinterested in a pool if they don’t swim or don’t want the responsibility of keeping the pool clean and the watered conditioned. If buyers have small children or pets that do not swim, the pool could be a safety hazard. In addition, swimming pools represent an additional liability for homeowners. Though some home shoppers specifically seek properties with pools, in areas with cooler climates, pools could be a strong deterrent for the majority of buyers.

2. Massive Walk-in Closets & Home Theatres

In general, home buyers prefer a bedroom over a room specifically designed for a single purpose. A bedroom converted into an elaborate walk-in closet could be a dream coming true for a buyer, where most buyers would find more value in an additional bedroom or a room with more square footage. Home theaters also appeal to a narrow audience, but such installations limit the options for most home shoppers.

3. Garage Conversions

Another conversion that homeowners may assume would add value to their properties is the garage. Home sellers should not underestimate the value of a garage for home buyers. Although converting a garage into a family room, bedroom or man cave appeals to some buyers, the renovation limits the original function of the space and therefore reduces the number of interested parties.

4. Lavish Landscaping

Though beautifully landscaped yards and garden beds exponentially increase the curb appeal of homes which impress home shoppers, all the foliage requires upkeep. Not unlike a massively overgrown garden, a highly tended to yard implies major work. If buyers aren’t interested in maintaining the extravagant landscaping, the sellers limit their list of buyers and do not reap a return for their pricey investments.

With all renovations, homeowners run the risk of missing the mark, losing money and even decreasing the resale values of their homes. Some high-end kitchen and bathroom upgrades even have low ROI. The best renovation rule is to stay neutral with upgrades and avoid specialized features. Specificity narrows the range of interested buyers. Additionally, extreme projects may seem like extra benefits to one person while another may view them as drawbacks, even lowering the offer price to cover costs of correcting the remodel. Consider these variables when preparing to sell a home and stick to low maintenance but traditional remodels for the greatest ROI.

Mayor Who?

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Still confused about voting on who will be the next New York City mayor? Well, you won’t find any help here. The Democratic primary is tomorrow and I’m still scrambling to find out what these guys/gal are all about. I missed the debate and I haven’t been keeping up with the local news.

What makes NYC wonderful is that we each have our own important issue. Personally, I’d like to see a mayor who’s a proponent of animal rights and sustainability. Raise the minimum wage. Fight for New Yorkers of ALL income levels in ALL boroughs. Education. The arts. Fight crime without discrimination. I want to be able to drink a beer on my stoop and I want to see people get educated on soda without the damn ban! Oh, and even though I never so much as tried pot, not even once in my life….legalize that shit and tax it!!

If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that Quinn is not getting my vote. She has two strikes against her: 1. She’s another Bloomberg and 2. She’s not the biggest animal rights advocate.

On the other hand, front runner de Blasio intends on getting rid of the carriages all together and coming up with a more humane and sustainable tourism idea such as electric antique cars. I like him and I’ll probably vote for him. If Liu or Thompson end up getting to the general election, I’d be happy enough to vote for them. Honestly, since I haven’t had a chance to pay much attention, they are all samey-samey to me right now. I know that Liu would like to legalize marijuana. The only reason de Blasio stands out is because his Public Advocate website was so helpful during the aftermath Hurricane Sandy.

Salgado opposes same sex marriage. Buh-bye. Albanese opposes fracking and wants to phase in 100% recycling. Not too shabby.

And what of my beloved Weiner? I was completely undeterred by his original sexting scandal. When he said that more photos might come out, that was fine too. What I didn’t realize was that “more” meant new sexting AFTER the whole fiasco. It’s kind of tough to have someone’s back when their dick is weighing them down so much. Still, I’m so heartbroken over the whole thing, I just might pull the lever (as us dinosaurs say) for him just for old times’ sake. Actually, his schmeckle aside, he would make a great mayor!

If you have any input, I’d welcome it! As someone who always mocks those undecided presidential election voters, this is making me feel so flawed.

Helpful sites: Decide NYC

Project NYC

Rent or Buy Vacation Home?

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With housing prices out of control in the boroughs, will home ownership be out of reach for the middle class now? Not necessarily, depending on which neighborhoods are deemed acceptable. But let’s say you’re happy with your rental and still have a hankering to own some property. Some folks forgo the primary residence and purchase an affordable second home instead.

So, what are the pros and cons of owning a vacation property rather than renting it? Having been there done that myself, I came up with a list. Feel free to add your own opinion.


1. It’s yours. Bring pets, leave it messy, do what you want with it!

2. It’s there whenever you want it. Feel like getting away last minute? No worries about booking a place.

3. Entertain. Invite friends. Have a party.

4. It’s free. When all is said and done, if you sell, you can hopefully get your money back, plus more.

5. Rent it out when you’re not using it. See #4 about it being free.

6. Disaster strikes? Y2k, terrorist attack, NYC blackout, gotta live off the land? You have a place to run.


1. Winterize. Gotta turn off water or keep some heat going so pipes don’t freeze when not in use.

2. Maintenance. Grass, exterior paint, shoveling snow. If you’re not around to see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. These things need to be taken care of.

3. Will you use it? Don’t go out and buy a country house if your schedule doesn’t allow maximum usage. Better off renting if you won’t be able to enjoy it.

4. Same place. All the time. That’s it. No more exploring.

5. Mortgage all year round. Whether it’s a first or second mortgage, you’ll be paying for that baby even if you never use it.

6. Double set of everything. Furniture, dishes, linens, coffee maker, you name it.

Dutchess County Under $200k

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Agent Full

Yesterday we looked at what you can pick up in Dutchess County for under $100k. Cash deals that would cost double the initial investment to make them habitable. So, what can you get if you had double the dough? These places look a little less scary.

I think I actually looked at the house above over a year ago before I decided on Rockaway instead of upstate. If it’s the same house, it was a nice piece of property, although a bit out of the way. Location is Red Hook, but it’s about 8 miles into the town of Red Hook or Tivoli. Very rural.

I was under the impression that it was difficult to show because of the tenant at the time. The house is now vacant and it’s priced to sell, as they say. $129k for a 2 BR, 2 bath fixer upper on 4.24 acres. Taxes are $2975. There’s a shed on the property that could make a nice little art studio.

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Ok, so this looks like a vinyl sided new construction, but it’s actually an old barn conversion. Not that you can tell from the new interiors either but the loft-like space is a good thing. The 900 square foot 1900 structure sits on .33 of an acre on a not-so-busy road. Taxes are listed at $1013, although I’d verify that if I were you. Can’t imagine they are actually that low.

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This is my favorite. A great looking farm house on .86 acres in Pine Plains. Don’t ask me anything about Pine Plains because I don’t know, but I like the house. $165k. Taxes are $3298. Here’s what makes it a better deal than the others…it’s a 12 room house @ 2572 square feet. Built in 1840. Sweet.

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This house belongs to my friend’s family and it’s her listing. A mid-century sprawling ranch on over 3 acres in Red Hook for $179.9k. There’s lots of potential here, including the convenient location. That’s actually the drawback though. It’s right on Rt. 9-G. The house does sit back from the road. That’s the driveway you see in the picture. With a decent 6 foot privacy fence, you would hardly notice the road. Taxes are $6937.

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This one is great! An 1829 post and beam Colonial in Rhinebeck WITH details! House is on 2.79 acres. Why so inexpensive at $199,900? Well, it’s only a 2 BR @ 1050 square feet. Taxes are $7541. I still think it’s a good deal. Situated between Rhinebeck and Red Hook. Rhinebeck is always going to fetch higher prices, so “location, location, location”.

I didn’t include links to individual list agents as any agent can show all of these houses. Contact me if you’re interested in looking and I’ll hook you up with someone.

Dutchess County Under $100k

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Now that I have some time on my hands, I’m back to bugging Upstate Broker and checking out his MLS. Got some change to spare? There are homes to be had for under $100k. They probably need another $100k in renovations but that’s beside the point.

These are mostly short sales that must be paid for in cash. I left out the ones that stated “tear down”.

The Diamond in the Rough above is located in Staatsburg. That’s the area that’s not quite Hyde Park and not quite Rhinebeck but somewhere in between. For $35,900 you get a home on .17 acres that is in need of a lot of TLC. According to Google Maps, it looks as if the house is right near the train tracks, which up beyond Poughkeepsie, would be Amtrack.

Built in 1920, the 1248 square foot house has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, forced air oil heat and 100 amps. Taxes are $2314.

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This lovely fixer upper is in Fishkill. There is not much information given on the MLS sheet but it’s been on the market for awhile at $58k. Built in 1925, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath on 0.3 acre. 1200 square feet. Taxes: $2726.

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This is what you get in Pawling for $69,375. An 1885 2600 square foot farm house on .54 acre. Not bad. Of course it needs work. They all do! Walk to town and Metro North station. Sounds great? Before you run up there to have a look, here’s the bad news… taxes are $9319.

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Back to Fishkill. This one looks like it would make a decent country house for someone who may want to commute as well. Convenient, yet on an entire acre of private land bordering state land. Built in 1910. The house has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, oil heat and 100 amps. Been on the market for over a year. Original list was $237k. Now priced at $92k. A bargain! Taxes are $3936.

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I saved the best and of course, most expensive for last. $98,500 sounds steep now, doesn’t it? Ok, so it doesn’t look like much from the picture, but this house sits on a 3 acre property with foot bridges, a brook, granite cliffs and a waterfall. The house is only 3 season, but if it’s a gut renovation anyway, not a big deal to heat and insulate that baby. Built in 1950, it’s only 672 square feet. Located in Fishkill, south of 84, which I’ve always considered close-ish Cold Spring. Taxes are $2874.

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