Local real estate market showing signs of life

Stabilized prices suggest more sales after the holidays, realtors predict

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Local long-term realtors believe the real estate market in Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Milan is ready to pick up again.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 and the concurrent decline in property values, many local residents have been wondering when the housing market will return.

“Prices are at the floor, and the interest rates are low,” said Tom LeGrand who owns LeGrand Real Estate which he started in 1992. He has been self-employed in construction and real estate since 1974.

“It wasn’t that many years ago you couldn’t get a house for under $300,000,” he said, noting that the majority of his recent sales have been priced at or under $275,000.

He predicted that housing sales will decrease in November but prices will remain stable for the next few months.

Terese Mondello also believes that prices will not drop further.

“The next three months will likely generate less sales as the general public will be focused on the holiday season,” Mondello said. “After the New Year, the market usually picks back up again. Prices have stabilized.”

“There seems to be equal interest in Red Hook and Rhinebeck, both [school districts] are desirable to families relocating to the area,” Mondello added. She and her sisters moved the family business, Mondello Upstate Properties, from Gallatin into the Village of Red Hook in 2010.

“Despite its growth, Red Hook still maintains an ‘apple pie’ type country feel,” Mondello said. “We are also very fortunate to have Bard College, which brings us wonderful people from across the globe, who support our local businesses.”

Nora Mercier of Paul Hallenbeck Real Estate agrees that prices will remain stable although she expects that sales volume will increase, partly due to the low interest rates and the fact that there is a lot of inventory to sell.

“Your friendly Red Hook Neighbor” is how her agency describes Mercier, who recently joined their team. She has lived in Red Hook for six years and specializes in working with families who want to move to the Red Hook School District.

“My favorite clients are the families with children,” said Mercier. “Even though we are set back in the country, there is so much to do here, and if you want to go to New York City you easily can. When you walk around the village centers, you see people are happy to be here.”

LeGrand also emphasized how important the school districts factor into sales. At a recent closing, he said, a buyer discovered at the last minute that the property was not actually in the desired school district… and cancelled the transaction.

“Red Hook School District is a magnet that attracts families to this area,” LeGrand explained. The district covers approximately 90 square miles, has a good academic ranking, and offers a large, well-established sports program.

Milan is split between three different school districts: Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Pine Plains but features easy access to the Taconic Parkway. “Milan seems to draw more second home buyers,” said Mondello, “as it is more rural and convenient to the [parkway].”

LeGrand recalls fondly how his father moved to Rhinebeck in 1959 and just knew it was where he wanted to stay.

“The quality of life is second to none,” said LeGrand. “The Hudson Valley is probably one of the best real estate values in the state. It’s clean, safe, has good schools, and is a great environment for raising a family.”

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