Capital Region Real Estate News and Market Update November 1, 2016
Real Estate New York Rebate 10% of our entire commission up to 10,000 details
Commission Rebate Extended
Summary It's simple, buy any property from a Real Estate New York broker or agent and we will rebate 10% of our entire commission at closing up to a maximum of 10,000 However, this rebate offer is only valid until January 1, 2017. To qualify you only need enter into contract by that date, not close.
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Summary: Last month we investigated the best way to get the best mortgage. This month we'll look at closing costs. While your efforts into the mortgage process have been ongoing, now is the time to vet and finalize the chosen loan at the best price.
Here are some insights into cutting closing costs.
After the stress of house hunting and the anxiety of the offer, you might feel like you can’t handle yet another hurdle. But closing costs are an inevitable part of the purchase process. Happily, there’s often wiggle room—at least on the costs that could be covered by the seller. We’ll give you the lowdown on all of the gritty details in this installment of the 2016 Home-Buying Guide. Learn about what goes into your closing costs—and, even more important, how to whittle them down to size.
Inspection and appraisal fees
You won’t have much luck lowering appraisal fees—since the lender selects the appraiser, you’ll likely be stuck paying their costs without much room to negotiate. The home inspector offers more flexibility: Compare a variety of quotes to find the cheapest option. You even might be able to persuade the seller to cover some of these fees, depending on your market (this is less likely in a red-hot market). Granted, you won’t be saving a ton of money here, considering the average home inspection costs $300 to $500, but a couple of hundred extra never hurts.
Let’s hope you paid careful attention when shopping for your mortgage: Different lenders require different fees, and buyers should keep an eye out for “junk fees” like for the application, credit check, processing, and even the frustrating but all too common “miscellaneous” fee.
Also take a close look at the loan estimate you receive from your lender at the beginning of the process and compare it with the closing disclosure statement, which you’ll get three days before your scheduled closing. Make sure no unexpected charges snuck their way onto your bill.
If you decided to pay for discount points at closing to lower your interest rate, well, the bill is due. However, with the current low interest rates, that might not make sense for many buyers anyhow.
No, you can’t negotiate the existence of home insurance (most lenders require it to proceed with the loan), but you can certainly shop around. With the average premium stretching to $1,034 in 2015, your insurance will be a large cost regardless—but researching companies and comparing quotes goes a long way toward decreasing your expenses.
Title insurance is a lender mandate that protects your ownership of the property, heading off a number of unsavory situations such as fraudulent claims, courthouse errors, liens, and family disputes. If your lender requires you to purchase title insurance, you can shop around for a better quote. Unlike home insurance, title insurance is a one-time fee, which can make its high cost (the average buyer pays $3.50 per $1,000 of purchase price) easier to swallow..
Sneaky, sneaky: One easy way to avoid paying a mountain of closing costs is by asking the seller to cover some or all of the fees. You might not have much luck in a red-hot market, but then again, a seller might agree to cover closing costs if she is able to get the selling price she wants. This works for buyers who might be short on cash but can handle adding a bit more to their loan balance. FHA loans allow sellers to contribute up to 6% toward closing costs; VA loans allow 4%, and conventional loans permit 3% to 6%.
Most experts recommend closing on a house at the end of the month. Closing costs also include any interest that accumulates before the end of the current month—so closing on the 29th rather than the 1st of the next month will save you money.
But before you sign on the dotted line, there is one more consideration that might affect your closing costs—or even the entire purchase. Next up on realtor.com‘s 2016 Home-Buying Guide: the final walk-through!
Summary: Private mortgage insurance (PMI) adds an extra cost to your monthly mortgage payment, something that most buyers understandably want to avoid. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, options that you want to be aware of as you go to buy a home. Understanding what PMI is, why it exists and what you can do to avoid it, is worthwhile if you want to save money on your home purchase.
Private mortgage insurance, commonly known as PMI for short, is a type of insurance policy that homeowners are expected to purchase if the equity in their home is less than 20%. Whether you are buying a home or refinancing, if you cannot maintain a 20% equity, such as bringing a large enough down payment to the table, then your lender will require you to purchase and maintain PMI until you reach 20% equity.
PMI is “private” insurance because you purchase it from a private company, as opposed to government organizations where you may be getting your loan, like with FHA loans.
The 20 percent down payment is a requirement of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back or purchase most mortgages here in the US. To avoid paying private mortgage insurance, the entities require the 20 percent down payment funds. Buyers who want to get a mortgage for more than 80 percent need to buy insurance to protect these agencies, or another party must provide it for them.
Lenders are taking a risk when they hand over money to you for your home purchase. There is a chance that you could default on your loan and lose the home, which leaves the lender holding on to a piece of real estate that it does not want or need. When a creditor winds up with a home, they will sell it at an auction to get back their money, but homes selling at auctions will often sell for less than they are worth. Buyers at auctions expect homes to be in less than perfect shape and pay accordingly.
To cover the difference between what the lender gives you to purchase the home and the amount that the home will sell for should you default, lenders require you to carry private mortgage insurance.
The 20% equity requirement to avoid PMI represents the financial position you need to be in for the lender to consider you unlikely to default. Of course, lots of borrowers do not have the twenty percent to put down. For those buyers who don’t have the necessary funds, their first consideration is knowing how to stop paying private mortgage insurance. Eliminating private mortgage insurance is smart because it is a useless fee that offers little benefits. Cancelling PMI as soon as possible is smart!
The argument for PMI is that it allows buyers with less than 20% down to purchase homes. For a relatively small monthly fee, you can buy a home for lower down payment. You get your home; the lender is protected. That is all fine and dandy to be able to purchase the home you want. After you own the home, however, you will be thinking to yourself how do I cancel paying this fee.
PMI is calculated based on the risk you present to the lender – just like every other insurance policy. One of the primary variables is the size of your down payment. The less you pay down, the higher your PMI payment will be. You will need to pay the fee monthly, so it will be necessary to calculate private mortgage insurance costs into your finances when you are determining how much home you can afford.
PMI can range from less than $100 a month to several hundred – or more, depending on the cost of the home and your down payment – so you want to be prepared.
How to Avoid Paying PMI
Now that you know what you are getting into, the question is, “What can I do to avoid it?” Below you will see the ways around paying private mortgage insurance.
Make a 20% Down Payment
The simplest solution is to pay 20% or more down for your home. You may need to look for a more affordable property – something smaller, in a less desirable area, etc. – or you may need to get creative in your financing. Obtaining an extra boost from family members to reach 20%, for instance, would free you from PMI.
If you are close but are quite there yet with saving for the 20 percent down payment, it may also make sense to put off purchasing a home for just a little while. The savings from not paying private mortgage insurance can be pretty substantial. That savings each month could go towards your investment accounts, saving for retirement or any number of other expenses.
Get a VA Loan
Unfortunately, if you are like most buyers, hitting the 20% mark right off the bat will be hard, if not impossible. Another option to avoid private mortgage insurance is to get a VA loan. Obviously, you will need to meet the requirements, the most fundamental of which is previous military service, but if you can get the VA loan you will be able to skip the PMI step. In the article referenced above, you will see a complete guide to Veterans loans.
The two options above are the easiest and most financially sound ways to avoid PMI, but many people will not be able to take advantage of either one. There are some other ways to avoid PMI, but they need to be looked at more carefully because they can cost more than they are worth if you are not careful.
Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI) is one option that you might hear about from your lender. Unlike private mortgage insurance, which is paid for by you, with LPMI the lender is the one that covers the cost of the insurance. To get LPMI, you will need to agree to a higher mortgage rate. Getting LPMI may raise your rate by .375 to 0.75%, so do the math before you agree. Check out how to get the best mortgage interest rates, so you do not end up with terms that could have been much better for you.
But keep in mind that piggyback financing is less common for a reason. It will be more complicated and could cost you more in the long run. You may be better off just paying the PMI.
Use a Credit Union
Some borrowers to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, are using credit unions instead of traditional banks or other lending institutions. Credit Unions often hold their loans “in house,” avoiding selling the loans on the secondary market. By using a credit union Fannie or Freddie may not be involved in the loan.
Jumbo Mortgage Lenders
It is possible to avoid paying PMI if you are getting a jumbo loan with some lenders. Generally speaking, a jumbo loan is a larger loan amount, typically over $417,000. Some jumbo lenders may allow for a 90% loan to value ratio and let a borrower skip paying the private mortgage insurance. Since Jumbo lenders are not selling their loans to one of the government agencies, they do not have to require PMI. Don’t expect every jumbo lender to do this.
Check With Your Lender Once You Reach 20%
If you have no other choice but to purchase a home with private mortgage insurance, remember that you only have to pay for the extra coverage until you reach 20% equity. The insurance is supposed to drop automatically once you hit the mark, but keep track just to make sure. When you reach 20%, contact your lender to verify that the insurance has been dropped. Banks are required to drop the PMI once you hit 22 percent equity in your home.
Summary: Finding the perfect starter home is a journey as well as a destination. You’ve got to know what you want, then adjust expectations to meet the reality of the market. In the end, you don’t have to settle on your “forever home”—just a place you’ll call home for at least five to seven years.
But that’s a long time in homeowner years, especially if you wake up each day in a place you wind up hating.
“You want to buy something that’s going to last,” says Carol Temple, an Arlington, VA, Realtor® who loves helping newbies find their first home.
So how do you know what’s going to stand the test of (a decent amount of) time? You’ve never done this before. You’re taking a leap of faith that you have the money, skills, and temperament to maintain the biggest purchase of your life so far.
We know—it’s scary. And overwhelming. But there is a foolproof formula to picking the right starter home.
Manageable monthly expenses
If you’ve been renting all your adult life, you’ll be surprised by how much owning a home actually costs. There’s a mortgage, real estate taxes (usually wrapped into your mortgage), insurance premiums, utilities, and the drip-drip-drip of maintenance costs. And here’s the fun part: All these costs usually increase with time!
“New homeowners are often not aware of how expenses can add up when they own a home,” says David Reiss, who teaches real estate law at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, NY.
When calculating how much you can spend on a house, figure in all these costs, and then add a little more for unexpected expenses. Like replacing LED lightbulbs at $20 a pop. Or hiring a pro to prune that gorgeous oak in the backyard. Or maybe replacing your Grand Palais range that spontaneously combusted.
Make sure your final choice truly fits your budget. Got it? That may mean buying something smaller, older, or farther out than you originally intended.
Maintenance costs are the great unknown in homeownership—the older the house, the more it will cost to keep running. So unless you have the handyman skills and desire to fix whatever comes up, it’s better for your starter house to be newer construction (less than 10 years old).
You may even want to consider brand-new construction, which costs more but whose parts are typically covered by a warranty. Standard coverage would be a one-year warranty for labor and materials, two years’ protection for mechanical defects—plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems—and 10 years for structural defects.
Whether you buy a new or existing home, don’t forget to hire a good home inspector to thoroughly identify potential problems.
“Even if the home buyers are handy, they may not want to be spending their time up on the roof looking for a leak or in the basement up to their knees in water,” Reiss says.
Room to grow
Your family may consist of a spouse and a golden retriever today, but even if you aren’t thinking about expanding, your nuclear unit could look vastly different in a few years. You may add a baby or two, or you may decide to help care for your elderly parents. Since you never know what the future holds, buy as much house as you can reasonably afford. Talk with your lender and get pre-approval for the largest mortgage you’ll qualify for.
“A lot of first-time buyers have self-imposed limitations,” Temple says. “Talk to a lender, and at least know what your ceiling is.”
Use that purchase power to buy space, which is much more important than fancy finishes. You can always upgrade a drab kitchen and knock out a wall to create an open floor plan. But adding more square footage by popping the roof or pushing out an exterior wall is extremely expensive and a major hassle.
Change is hard, and moving is particularly stressful. So don’t pick a starter home that will drop you into a totally unfamiliar lifestyle and location far away from the people and activities you love.
If you enjoy grilling with old friends on weekends, make sure your new barbecue pit isn’t hours away from your buddies who, no matter what they say, will not frequently drive the distance to have a perfectly seared blood sausage with you. If art galleries and professional theater rock your boat, don’t buy a starter house in a community that doesn’t embrace those activities.
Most of all, buy a place reasonably close to work. A daily commute is time-consuming and expensive, and will soon get old if you’re adding two or three hours to your work life. Remember this. You’ll be glad you did.
Political Corner: Fannie Mae Expands 3% Down Mortgage Program
Summary: Fannie Mae is expanding its HomeReady program, which features the government-sponsored enterprise’s 3% down mortgage program to allow for up to 97% loan-to-value ratio refinances for loans that are already owned by Fannie Mae. Previously, its maximum allowable LTV ratio for certain refinances was 95%.
Specifically, Fannie said that it will soon allow for LTVs of 97% on one-unit limited cash-out refinance transactions that are underwritten by Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter when the mortgage being refinanced is owned by Fannie Mae.
Additionally, Fannie Mae said that the requirement that the existing mortgage being refinanced be owned by Fannie Mae does not apply when the LTV is 95% or less, or when the CLTV only exceeds 95% due to a Community Seconds loan.
Average Sale & List Prices for Albany NY, Schenectady NY, Rensselaer NY, Saratoga NY New York Counties:
The average list and sale prices for the month of October 2016 show a decrease over September's numbers. However, the average remains in line with October figures for the last two years: Higher than 2015; lower than 2014
The average asking price to sale price ratio increased from 97.95% in September to 98.77% in October.
The graph above shows the number of sales in a given month divided by the number of homes on the market in the four main counties of the Capital Region.*
October 2016 sales figures indicate a continuing weak sellers' market seen for the last five months. This is a good sign that buyers still have an excellent opportunity in this market before it cycles to sellers' advantage once more.
*This ratio can be used to determine whether we are in a buyers' or sellers' market as indicated in Dennis Maier's article on Market Timing featured in eZine Real Estate. In general, if it would (theoretically) take less than 6 1/2 months to sell the current inventory it's a sellers' market. If it would take more than 9 months to sell all the homes on the market it's a buyers' market.
Summary: Buying a home has its vastly rewarding moments, of course, but it can also be a long road paved with sinkhole-size regrets. And no one knows this better than homeowners who’ve been through the process of buying a home (or renting an apartment) and, now looking back, have the perspective to see what they did right—and what they did desperately, disastrously wrong.
So if you’re in that oh-so-exciting phase where you’re home shopping, be sure to check out these stories of home buyers’ biggest areas of remorse. And avoid stumbling into the same traps!
Putting off house hunting until the last minute
“My biggest mistake was not starting the search for a house sooner,” declares Washington, DC, resident Aimee Agresti. “We didn’t begin until we had really already outgrown our condo.”
Two young sons, ages 4 and 1, were crammed with her and her husband into a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment that had gotten chaotic fast. Yet their “speed house searching” in suburban Maryland was more like a crawl.
“It took so long that at one point, we actually made an offer on a house we didn’t love just because we were so desperate to get out of our place,” she says. “We were definitely not in the best state of mind to be making huge life-changing decisions. Thankfully we managed to get out of that deal and waited a little longer, and the right place finally came along.” But it could have easily gone the other way.
Overlooking schools, even if you don’t have kids
Despite a long list of wants for their first home, Kim Maggio and her husband didn’t prioritize finding a property in a top public school system when they moved from Boston to Haverhill, MA in 2006—after all, she had just become pregnant.
“We went into our purchase thinking it was our five-year home,” she explains. Nearly a decade later, they were still there—paying for their two kids to attend pricey private school. “I just had to have country air, a driveway, and a yard,” Maggio says. “Clearly we bought this home to fulfill some emotional needs. But I regret buying for the short term and not thinking about resale value—and the schools.”
Caving to a seller’s every demand
Afraid to ruin her chance at landing their dream home in Chelmsford, MA, Michelle Downs agreed to adopt a stray cat that considered the place its home. OK, let’s back up for a moment.
“My husband and I bought our house from an old lady who was selling to live in a senior housing apartment building that prohibited cats,” Downs explains. “The woman said that there was a cat that basically lived outside and would come in the house through a cat door in the basement. She asked us to keep the cat with the house, and I was so desperate to buy the place I said yes, even though I am severely allergic to cats!”
It didn’t take long before Downs’ cat-induced sniffling got the best of her, prompting an awkward conversation with the seller, whose granddaughter finally agreed to take the feline.
Buying too big
When Kim King and her husband built their house in New Hampshire as newlyweds, she “thought for sure we would have two or three children.”
To accommodate their future brood, the couple constructed a nearly 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home. “But based on the years it took us to get pregnant and the complications during pregnancy, we decided that one child was the right number for us,” she says. “And that left us rolling around this huge house with one small child and a tiny dog. We certainly would not have built that size of home if we had a crystal ball and could have known what the future held.” .
Overlooking small details
Moving to Hopkinton, MA, Liz Meehan wishes she’d looked more closely at her property before she purchased it.
“It is clear now, seven years later, that the seller did a quick, cheap refinish of the kitchen cabinets to sell the house, because he used low-quality laminate cabinet covers that are now peeling!”
She regrets not having the cabinet doors replaced when they bought the house. “It’s $7,000 to resurface them,” says Meehan. “And I would have been able to fold the improvements into our mortgage.”
Skimping on the number of bedrooms you actually need
Meehan, who has twin boys, was also hoping for a home with four bedrooms, one of which she could turn into a guest room. But she didn’t stay firm on room No. 4 during their property search, and she regrets it to this day..
“We thought three bedrooms would be fine enough for the four of us,” says the homeowner. “But as the boys get bigger, it’s clear they are going to need their own rooms, so we’ll need to add one if we stay here.” It’s an expense and inconvenience she could have avoided had she stuck to her original plan.
“I really regret not factoring location into the equation more thoroughly,” says Andover, MA, resident Simone Cote. “We got the school district and the proximity to town that we wanted. But coming from a city, where walkability was part of daily life, moving to a house in the suburbs where we couldn’t walk outside safely was a mistake. The isolation we felt really impacts our experience in the community and our ability to be part of the town.” Bummer.
Summary: Want to know how old the roof is on a house, or whether it uses gas or electrical heat? Your trusty real estate agent can tell you pretty much anything you need to know about a home you’re hoping to buy (or at least find answers for you). Yet if you ask your agent certain questions, you might be puzzled to hear nothing but an awkward silence. Why?
It’s not that real estate agents don’t know the answer; they probably do. It’s just that they’re correctly staying on the right side of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or family/economic status.
Here are the top ones that leave them feeling tongue-tied—plus where you can actually find the answers you seek.
Is this a good place to raise a family?
This question is often “a lose/lose/lose for the Realtor®,” says David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in real estate. If an agent admits a certain area is not all that family-friendly, “it could imply that families with kids aren’t welcome.” Or, on the flip side, “if the agent says that the neighborhood is a good place for kids, that could be interpreted as saying households without kids aren’t welcome, which is another form of discrimination.”
Housing professionals who try to either encourage or discourage home buyers based on the kid question can, and do, face consequences in court.
Bottom line: Rather than get burned, a cautious agent refrains from presuming where you and your brood will thrive. So if you want to know this info, you’ll have to do your own research (more on how to do that below).
What’s the neighborhood like?
Ask a close friend this question, and you may hear a candid answer along the lines of “Mostly Irish Catholic with a small Chinatown and a sprinkling of hipster transplants fleeing the city.” Awesome!
Your agent, however, will almost certainly not go there, particularly when it comes to race, because such discussions come uncomfortably close to “redlining”—a form of discrimination in which home buyers are steered toward or away from neighborhoods based on the color of their skin.
Still, if you want to get a sense of an area’s ethnic makeup, the U.S. Census website has all the info you need (and those sources will certainly be more accurate than any one person’s opinion). You can also find out about a neighborhood at realtor.com®/local, which has a message board where you can query people living in the area.
Is this area safe?
Let’s say that there used to be gang violence on a nearby block that’s getting better. You might appreciate knowing this, but such comments could be construed as racist or classist by steering you toward or away from a particular neighborhood, which is why prudent agents keep their lips zipped.
Luckily, though, such info is readily available in the form of crime statistics. Type in an address at My Local Crime to access any recent local crimes, from vandalism to shootings. A map will point you to the exact spot where they happened so you know exactly which blocks are sketchier than others.
How are the schools here?
Because the racial divide can also run deep in U.S. schools, “a Realtor has to be careful not to let their answer be construed as a coded message about race,” Reiss says. Rather than risk a potentially offensive miscommunication, Realtors may very well introduce you to one of many websites that rank schools—such as Great Schools and School Digger.
Another option: If you have your heart set on your child attending a certain school, download realtor.com’s mobile app, which allows you to search for homes for sale by school district.
Summary: You wake up in a cold sweat. There’s something lurking in the dark, visible by flickering computer light. Something’s haunting you. It’s… the real estate listings! Deep down, you’d love to own a home, but whenever you take steps beyond idle window-shopping, a chill runs up your spine, and paralyzes you from moving ahead. We get it—you’re about to make a life-changing purchase, and you’re spooked. The main thing that home buying has in common with horror flicks: The fears are (mostly) mere figments of your imagination.
So in case you’re harboring some heebie-jeebies, here are some of home buyers’ top concerns—tackled head on so you know what you’re really dealing with.
‘I’m afraid I can’t afford a home’
Some house hunters are possessed by worries that their entire savings account will get sucked into a black hole if they buy. Then they’ll never be able to afford vacations, or new clothes, or food beyond beans and rice or mac ‘n cheese ever again.
The reality: Depending on what and where you’re buying, you’re not likely to drain your savings account, according to Bill Golden of RE/MAX Metro Atlanta Cityside. “There are many loan programs out there that can help first-time home buyers with down payment assistance,” says Golden, “or that don’t require a severed arm and leg in order to get a mortgage.”
The best way to determine how financially ready you are to buy a home is to talk to a loan officer. Alternatively, you can also enter your income, debts, and other info in realtor.com®’s home affordability calculator, to see exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home without going broke.
‘I’m worried I won’t be able to buy a home I actually like’
The current economic climate may lead some buyers to believe that buying means they’ll end up living in a version of a “Saw” movie set—a windowless pit with exposed plumbing. (Without the severed limbs, however.) Fact is, interest rates are low, allowing homeowners to snag a great deal and pay less over the course of their loan. “Also, with the economy being in a downturn, many fantastic properties are being sold for under value,” says Tyler Ferguson, owner of Stone Reinvented.
‘What if I buy a money pit?’
We’ve all seen that movie of the same name where Tom Hanks‘s life and bank account are shredded, thanks to a rapidly disintegrating old house. But hey, that’s just a movie—most houses aren’t money pits, and even if there are potential issues lurking in the shadows, like a leaking pipe, you can do plenty to protect yourself. Before the sale, “hire a good home inspector,” says Green. He or she should be able to see signs of water damage, or any electrical and plumbing red flags. A home inspector will also advise you on potential repair costs, which can provide leverage for you to go back to the sellers and lower the price you pay.
‘I’m worried I’ll overspend’
The asking price for a house may seem like an unholy amount of money. But keep in mind, that’s just what the sellers are asking for—what they get could be a totally different picture. Your Realtor can help guide you to a realistic offer. “A good agent will know the price points of the areas you’re targeting and can back them up with historical data and comps,” says Crystal Green, a Manhattan real estate agent for Level Group. Since you can search the prices of homes that recently sold in any area, it’s easier to find out what the neighbors paid and gain better insight before you place an offer.
‘I’m leery of buying during an election year’
A presidential election year makes many buyers want to hide under the covers until Nov. 8 when the political curse lifts—especially this year. “Everyone talks about uncertainty during campaign season,” says Green. But think about it: Unless you’re one of those people who really will move to Canada if so-and-so becomes president, will the election actually affect where you choose to live? “If you’re fairly confident that you’ll remain in a home for three to five years, you should net a profit at resale,” says Green.
‘It’s just safer to rent’
Sure, renting means you aren’t trapped in one place, as you are with homeownership. Yet for Scott Forman, divisional vice president of Cross Country Mortgage,” rent money disappears without allowing you to build any equity over time. That’s truly scary.” He estimates that by paying about $100 a month more, many renters could own their own home—and receive tax deductions. If in doubt, use a rent vs. buy calculator to crunch the numbers and see whether it’s renting or buying that wins out in your area.
The first residents of what would become the Town of Pittstown, New York were the Mohican tribe of Native Americans and later several tribes including the Schaghticokes who moved to the area to escape European settlement in New England.
The Mohicans farmed near the Hudson River where the land was fertile. Here they planted corn (maze) squash and beans in a combination called “The Three Sisters”. They fished the many rivers and streams and hunted the deep ravines where game was plentiful.
When European settlement threatened to erode the Mohican way of life they moved to western New York and eventually Wisconsin.
The very first European settlers to the area that would become Pittstown remain unknown.
But when Michael Vandercook, who Cooksborough was named for, settled there in 1763 the area was already sparsely populated. In 1770 William Shepard came from New England and purchased 500 acres. Two years later Ludovicüs Viele settled at Valley Falls and Christian Fischer at Cooksborough. Likely, the area was settled at the same time as the neighboring towns of Schaghticoke, Hoosick and Melrose: around 1740.
In 1753 the Albany Road was opened It crossed from Deerfield, MA to Greenbush, NY. To this day, historic homes and farms can be seen along its route.
Pittstown was originally part of the original county of Albany. The territory which was to become Rensselaer County was divided into four districts: Rensselaerwyck, Hoosick, Schaghticoke, and Pittstown, named for the Earl of Chatham: William Pitt. Pittstown was delineated as a township by patent July 23, 1761.
On April 7, 1801 the Town was incorporated with its present boundaries.
Residents typically farmed, logged, or worked in the many mills utilizing the abundant hydro power available. There were numerous grist mills, lumber mills, cheese factories, breweries, tanneries, charcoal pits, brick factories, etc.
Johnsonville was the industrial center due to its location on the Hoosick River and later the Troy & Boston (Fitchburg) Railroad line. The Johnsonville Axe Factory was once the largest axe factory in the world. The first bridge across the Hoosick was opened in 1825.
Today, Pittstown is a bedroom community for the nearby Capital Region. Recently a 110 year old Johnsonville grist mill was converted to condos.
Valley Falls is a popular Pittstown village extended into the Town of Schaghticoke
We hope you have enjoyed this month's Market Update. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions on topics you would like to see covered please email them to Dennis J. Maier Principal Realtor Broker Real Estate NY at DennisM@RENY.net