From the NY Times:
BUYERS looking for a country house in the Hudson Valley or the Catskills in New York State have settled on a more modest ideal: between $200,000 and $250,000 for a home on a few acres, with a picturesque town not too far away.
“That’s what I think of as the ‘little black dress’ of the second-home market,” said David Knudsen, an agent with Catskills Buyers Agency in Sullivan County. “During the peak of the market the price expectation for that house was probably around $300,000, plus or minus $25,000.”
Although sellers have not all lowered their list prices to meet buyers’ expectations, brokers estimate that the price for the typical weekend retreat has dropped at least 20 percent since its peak in 2007. That has lured some city dwellers to take the plunge on a getaway home, even as economic worries, snowstorms and tighter lending standards provided a chilling backdrop for the real estate market this winter.
Some common themes emerge among people who have recently bought houses west of the Hudson River for less than $250,000. These shoppers are paying close attention to property taxes and heating costs, are not particularly interested in renovating and want a second home that is a manageable size. The ease of researching homes and price trends on the Internet has also given shoppers a clear idea about what they expect to pay.
“Buyers from the city are out in the market, but they want a great deal,” Mr. Knudsen said of his clients from the New York City area. “I think one of the big challenges we have right now is a wide gap between buyer expectations and seller expectations, unless there is some distress element on the seller side.”
That distress element is often divorce, death or debt, but two years into a grim economy the motivating factor for a price reduction can also be time.