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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Smallwood, NY

In response to our piece about Bethel earlier this week, Sullivan County buyers’ agent and blogger David Knudsen posted a detailed comment about the ins and outs of Smallwood, a Bethel hamlet and private lake community. David’s comment anticipates a lot of the questions a city buyer might have about Smallwood’s range of prices and seasonal vs. year-round housing, so we thought it worth highlighting:

“[A]bout prices .. Yes, you will see some seasonals occasionally listed or selling as low as $35,000. But a more realistic range for a ‘seasonal’ (on community water, not with a drilled well to permit year round use) is probably $55,000 to $80,0000. Something priced ‘too good to be true’ most likely will have either wood rot in sill plates, floor joists or structural members; foundation support issues or problems with old septics or cesspools. Any of those items can be very costly to repair even in a very small house.
In Smallwood, buyers need to pay particular attention to a house’s ‘private sewage system’ (septic or cesspool). Quite a few are old and in not great shape. The lot sizes are also small (seasonals are typically on 50 x 100 foot lots), so if you have a problem septic you may have to put in a fairly pricey aerobic system.
One question I’m often asked is can you convert a ‘seasonal’ to ‘year round’ use by drilling a well (so you have a year round water source.) The answer in almost all cases is ‘no’. The reason is that there are now minimum distances required in code between a well and a septic, and not just between a septic on your property and your proposed well, but between your proposed well and the septic on any adjoining property. On these small parcels, particularly with adjoining houses and septics, you can’t meet the minimums to drill a new well.‘Year rounders’ (houses with already drilled wells) generally start around $90,000 and go up to $140K or so. (More for houses ringing the lake with lake views.)Smallwood can be a great, affordable getaway — particularly for city folks that are looking for more summer use, and content themselves with a ‘seasonal.’


We really appreciated David’s inside take, so we gave him a call to get more Smallwood info. Read the rest of this entry

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