Upstate Curious: Q&A With Senior Buyer's Agent Monica Schwerberg
Through real estate and relationship-building, Upstate Curious connects both newcomers and seasoned upstaters to each other to enrich the local communities, while helping curious folks enjoy the nature-driven, slow-living lifestyle of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
We chatted with Monica Schwerberg, a senior buyer’s agent on the Upstate Curious Team. A Hudson Valley local raised in Newburgh, Monica uses her background in sales– running globally-recognized luxury boutiques like Diane von Furstenberg, Karl Lagerfeld, and Michael Kors– to close deals and build relationships with clients, including Summer clients! Known for being on top of current market trends and having strong connections to help tackle any hurdles that may arise, Monica has a deep love for style and architecture, so real estate always seemed like a natural fit.
What makes Upstate Curious unique?
Upstate Curious is so much more than just real estate - we have built a team of super smart (and authentic and funny…and the list goes on) individuals who pride ourselves on our collaboration, intrinsic knowledge of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, and wildly innovative approach to both business and community! Working with a team that intentionally learns from our over 200 transactions a year, while having a fully dedicated agent, is a real advantage in any market. We’re constantly thinking of new ways to make the transition to Upstate life, whether full-time or part-time, as easy and accessible as possible. We created the Upstate Curious app to give people a forum to connect with new friends or vendors and crowdsource solutions to questions about the best hiking trails to the best (or worst!) contractors.
"Buyers definitely have a bit more power now, but the truth lies in the fact that the ‘cream of the crop’ listings are still very competitive."
What changes are you seeing and expecting in the upstate market over the next 12 months?
Of course, no one has a crystal ball with these things, but we haven’t seen as major of a shift in our area as a lot of other parts of the country have, except with the lack of inventory, which remains pretty dramatic! Buyers definitely have a bit more power now (it’s been a strong sellers market for the past couple of years - no surprise there), but the truth lies in the fact that the ‘cream of the crop’ (ie; architecturally interesting, private, aesthetically pleasing, STR friendly) listings are still very competitive. We’re not anticipating a major drop in prices, and most people think interest rates may lower a bit and stabilize, so this may just be our new normal.
What parts of upstate are most popular? Any new areas of interest you’ve observed?
There are SO many amazing places in the Hudson Valley and Catskills to check out! It’s really hard to pick. The most popular, in my opinion, would be Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Hudson, Beacon, New Paltz, Warwick, Cold Spring, and Kingston. We’ve seen an influx of new businesses revitalizing small towns like Livingston Manor/Roscoe, Narrowsburg/Callicoon, Ellenville, Kerhonkson/Accord, and Mountaindale, as well as buyers being open to looking further afield in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie counties.
"The Summer model is great for anyone who is looking to start making some passive income, while not looking to take on so much risk. Design and management are necessary for a property to be successful, which only highlights Summer’s value."
Specific to the short-term rental market, what trends are you observing?
There is a little bit of a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ happening in the short-term rental market, for sure. A ton of new short-term rentals started up during the pandemic, and a lot of people who are using their upstate getaways less now are also transitioning to renting more. I think that to be successful in this shift you need to be well-designed (I can’t stress how important this is!) and well managed, and also have something special to offer. Being near skiing or hiking, having hot-tubs or saunas, or even just proximity to a cute main street with coffee and shopping are valuable assets to upstate short-term rental properties.
Any recommendations for ‘upstate curious’ individuals who are interested in looking into homeownership?
Call us as soon as the thought even crosses your mind to buy! It’s never too early and we love being able to help people prepare to buy their homes (this is something mortgage brokers we work with also absolutely recommend!). Definitely spend some time exploring different areas; a great agent will give you tips for where to go! As I said, so many of them have great businesses and communities, but slightly different vibes. Getting a place upstate can open so many unexpected doors; of course it’s partially about the house itself, but it’s so much more about the lifestyle.
"Being near skiing or hiking, having hot-tubs or saunas, or even just proximity to a cute main street with coffee and shopping are valuable assets to upstate short-term rental properties."
What profile of customer do you think makes the most sense for the Summer business model?
The Summer model is great for anyone who is looking to start making some passive income, while not looking to take on so much risk. Design and management are necessary for a property to be successful, which only highlights Summer’s value. Summer’s gradual ownership model is also great for anyone who isn’t 100% sure and wants to dip their toe in, or just isn’t 100% ready financially to make a competitive offer for these ‘Instagrammable’ houses we all want (*wink*).
How does Upstate Curious work with Summer? How do you see us continuing to work together as we grow?
We love working with Summer clients! Our team covers a huge area (8 counties!) and focuses on helping folks buy or sell design forward second homes that appeal to NYC buyers or visitors. A large percentage of these clients want to rent their homes occasionally so we have to be up to speed on constantly changing STR regulations, as well as style and design features that make a successful rental and enjoyable second home.
"We want to help clients tackle all aspects of homeownership upstate, and Summer is an amazing partner in that; we love being able to communicate to our clients that there's a pathway to homeownership that can build wealth."
We see ourselves as much as 'connectors' as we do a real estate team, so we are excited to explore how buying the home with Summer and Upstate Curious is only the first step for the client. We want to help clients tackle all aspects of homeownership upstate, and Summer is an amazing partner in that; we love being able to communicate to our clients that there's a pathway to homeownership that can build wealth. We still see a lot of well-qualified buyers losing to cash offers, which is one of the really exciting things about working with Summer.
Have more questions for our broker partners or the team? Drop us a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.