What’s Going on in Skaneateles?

By Michael Williams                                                                                                                                              


What’s going on in our small town in Central NY that’s five hours from a major city and surrounded by farmland?

I wish I understood the market dynamics better.  I just looked at my MLS this morning and saw two more closings for homes in or near the village of Skaneateles. These homes closed at prices higher than their asking prices.  Why, during the COVID pandemic, might that be?

Here are some facts and opinions:

Skaneateles facts:

– Demand for Skaneateles real estate remains stronger than in other areas of Central NY, and prices reflect this stronger demand.

– Skaneateles schools are perceived as providing a strong education, and the area is notable for its absence of private schools – parents are “voting” for keeping their kids in a strong public school system.

– Interest rates remain at historic lows and likely will remain so for some time.

– Skaneateles village is considered livable and walkable – with a commercial center surrounded by a mix of both old and new housing but with few multiunit or attached housing options.

– The headquarters for a medical instruments and equipment manufacturer makes its home within the town and has done so for more than 100 years (It was family-owned until five years ago). A consistently filled commercial center and the commuting proximity to Syracuse provide economic stability contrasted to the instability and decline of many other towns and villages in the region.  Many such towns are enjoying revivals from their lows of twenty years ago, but few have experienced the relatively consistent prosperity of Skaneateles.

– A lower property tax rate, helped by high lakeside market valuations, favors properties considered accessible to younger families.

Some opinions:

– Geography favors the town and village.  More than two hundred years ago, decisions to develop the village along the lakeshore furnished benefits that we still enjoy today.

– The lake is accessible as a visual feature, if not very accessible physically unless you own land touching it, reside near a public access point, or belong to one of the two organizations with access.  This deep, glacially carved lake is renowned for its clarity and cleanliness.

– While Skaneateles is a treasured home of professionals and local businessmen, it’s not a “hot spot” of young professionals who have favored larger cities and metropolitan areas for their opportunities and vitality.

– I have no data to support the idea that people are “fleeing the cities.”

I will explore some of these points more in future posts.

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