In 2018, the last time Main Street looked at real estate in the Town of Pine Plains on the northern border of Dutchess County, we predicted that real estate activity and prices were poised to move upward. COVID, low interest rates, and a national housing shortage fueled the town’s real estate market from total sales of $9 million in 2017 to $16 million in 2021. Despite record activity in the last four years, prices in Pine Plains remain affordable, and the town retains its appeal as a peaceful, rural community without the weekend traffic of Millerton or the luxury condos of Amenia. At the walkable center of the hamlet of Pine Plains is a grocery store, a barbershop, a hardware store, a pharmacy (see the article in this issue on Nasir Mahmood), a home store, and a used book shop as well as fine dining, a pizza parlor, a seasonal beer garden, and a hamburger joint. The new library, churches, a gas station, and schools are close by. The Stissing Center with the motto “Your Stage Next Door” is now open with programming for children and musical and dance events. Pine Plains has arrived.
Vacant residential and agricultural land
Residential land purchases can range from modest building lots to acres of meadows and wetlands. Between 2019 and 2022, there were only 17 sales of residential lots. Prices per acre ranged from $8,000 to $133,000 – smaller buildable lots command a higher cost per acre. Buildable parcels on Lake Road and Shore Drive in the vicinity of Stissing Pond, Thompson Pond, and Twin Island Lake are especially expensive. Overall, four parcels with less than one acre sold for an average of $75,000 per acre, while lots between one and three acres cost around $45,000 per acre, and the five vacant land properties over three acres were just $12,000 an acre.
Sales of vacant land classified as agricultural are less frequent and often include barns, stables, and even houses. The most expensive property of any type sold in the last four years was the purchase of a trophy horse farm on 109 acres at 441 Carpenter Hill Road for $2,750,000 in 2019. Price per acre of large pieces of agricultural land remain around $12,000 per acre. Many of these properties are being acquired to build new homes like the 47 acres acquired for $495,000 on Route 199 by the young beneficiary of an IPO.
Despite low inventory, Pine Plains has attractively priced land listed as of the writing of this article. Two residential building lots over two acres are available for $65,000 and $129,900, and an expansive 32-acre property on Skunks Misery Road remains for sale at $632,000. Most interesting is the recent listing of Dutch Schultz’s prohibition distillery with 343 acres built in 1932. At the time it was Dutchess County’s largest bootlegging operation. Listed by Andrew Gates of Houlihan & Lawrence for $5,500,000, the property includes a state-of-the-art distillery, a commercial kitchen, and a tasting room.
Booming home sales
In the last four years, average home prices have increased to $422,982 while median prices are still affordable at $330,000. Unlike many real estate markets in our region, sales over $500,000 are still rare, only nine in the last four years, and usually involve either lakeside properties, spectacular views, or substantial acreage. The highest sale in the four years surveyed was 1990 Route 83 which sold for $2,400,000 in December 2022, after being sold in 2019 for $1,995,000.
Sales results for the seven months through early August 2023 reported by MidHudson MLS show the median home price climbing to $345,000; however, there were only two sales above $500,000 and no million dollar sales. The slowing velocity is due to the limited inventory for purchase. There are only five residential properties on the market with a median asking price of $395,000, and no million-dollar mansions. Jen Capala of William Pitt Sotheby’s, who listed the cottage on Lake Shore Drive, summed up the current market situation: “Pine Plains is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance and is a perfect location for exploring not only all Dutchess County but also Columbia County, Berkshire County, and Litchfield County.”
New townhouses for rent
Summer before school starts is prime rental season, and, unlike the limited supply of most towns in the region, Pine Plains has new, two-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage, 1,400-square feet townhouses available for rent at $2,500 with one month free. The 48-unit Stissing Farm development is located between the high school and Tower Pizza. Once the certificate of occupancy is granted another 22 units will become available. The original 12.3-acre complex was purchased for $4,000,000 in March 2021.
At the time this article was written there were only three other rental properties advertised ranging from a 688-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath cottage listed for $2,000 a month to a seven-bath, seven-bedroom home for $20,000.
Pine Plains wants to remain a small farm town
The torrential floods and the community’s support of the affected farms embodies the small-town agricultural ethos of Pine Plains. The rented fields of Full Circus Farm, a certified organic fruit-tree nursery and vegetable farm, were destroyed during the May floods. Mark Stonehill, one of the new generation of organic farmers, relayed his small-town experience. “The community that has come together around our farm and nursery has been totally amazing. Seeing the community response to the devastating flash flood we suffered in July really illustrates the resiliency that can come from community supported agriculture. Within a day of starting a fundraiser, the Pine Plains community rallied and met our goal. A dozen people showed up at the farm with shovels to scrape mud from the barns. Some volunteered childcare while others grabbed wheelbarrows and started laying new gravel. It was a really heartwarming moment, and it all illustrated to us how farms can be a focal point for community – a place where people can meet their neighbors, organize and broadcast community efforts, or simply access good, healthy food.” •
Christine Bates is a registered real estate agent in New York and Connecticut with William Pitt Sotheby’s. She has written about real estate and business since Main Street Magazine’s first issue in 2013.