Founded in 1824, the Town of Copake, the Mohican word for snake pond, is busy planning its bicentennial celebrations for next year. Located on the eastern edge of Columbia County, Copake is an all-season sporting playground, which still retains its agricultural feel. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail winds through Taconic State Park. There’s skiing and zip lining at the Catamount Ski area in the northeast corner, and dazzling Copake Lake with water-skiers, marinas, and summer campers. The public 18-hole Copake Country Club, “quality since 1921,” includes The Greens restaurant and cross-country skiing in the winter. Canoes and kayaks glide silently on the quiet lake communities of Snyder Pond and Robinson Pond. Hikers climb 2,220 feet to the top of Alander Mountain, the highest peak in Columbia County, and bikers pedal the hilly roads. The hamlet of Copake Falls offers a cold dip in the old ore mine pit, the trail to Bash Bish Falls, in Massachusetts, and the Copake Iron Works Historic Site – a 19th century complex, which includes a rare blast furnace, engine house, museum, residences, and now a train.
Copake is an agricultural community and boasts the only active grange remaining in New York State. Just down the road is historic Empire Farm, established in 1830, on 220 acres managed by the FarmOn Foundation with an agricultural residency program that teaches sustainable farming. Directly behind the houses of Copake hamlet are 192 acres of fields that the Copake Agriculture Center leases to farmers. Saturdays are the day to go to the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market in the Roeliff Jansen Park, with local farmers selling produce, plants, and food underneath the barn roof and artisans, music, and picnic tables by the silos.
Copake actively encourages residents to participate in the community, from events at the Grange to public hearings on the large proposed solar installation. Roberta Roll, a resident since 1991 and author of the monthly Copake Town newsletter, believes that Copake is a vibrant place for everyone.
The long view
In September 2014, Main Street first looked at the real estate market in Copake, going back to 2004, and was surprised to learn that Copake had over twice the population density of its neighbors and a very active real estate market both in terms of units and in total value of sales. (See the September 2014 article on Main Street Magazine’s website under “past issues.”) Copake’s real estate market has always been dominated by second home buyers from modest cottages to multi-million-dollar properties on Copake Lake.
The most recent total dollar value of 12-month real estate sales in Copake is over $49 million, compared to Ancram’s record 2022 year of $32,000,000. Since 2010 when median home prices bottomed out at $195,000, Copake home sales have rebounded to the mid $300,000s in the last three years, almost a 60% increase since July of 2021. In 2021/2022, average home prices, which skew toward the higher-end second-home market, have also risen from a high of $429,498 in the housing bubble year of 2008 to a 12-month high of $635,813 in 2020/2021.
Slow down at year end
Analysis indicates that the real estate market started to cool in the last six months of 2022, especially in the over $1 million segment – a trend that has been documented in all of our region’s markets. Average prices reached a COVID peak of $636,000 but declined to $440,024 by the end of last year. The difference between average and median home prices narrowed, reflecting the sale of fewer high-priced homes. Still, sales through June of this year, according to realtor.com, included two homes above $1,000,000 and four between $500,000 and $1,000,000.
Fewer homes to buy
There are only 20 single-family Copake homes listed by real estate brokers for sale as this article was being written. Compare that to the 90 that were sold a year ago. Half are less than $500,000, and six are over $1,000,000. The median price is $489,000 – much above the previous 18 months. Are sellers increasing their price expectations because of continued high demand and lack of supply? Will demand increase even more with the continuation of hybrid working, high metropolitan real estate prices, and wildfire smoke. Copake is a market to watch.
Veteran realtor Lindsay LeBrecht of Copake Realty has observed the cycles of Copake real estate over the years. “The post 9/11 surge of buyers to our area also powered a huge increase in asking prices. Many people discovered the Copake ‘sweet spot’ – about two hours from NYC and 2.5 hours from Boston, with two train lines within a reasonable distance. This caused a problem for many full-time residents looking for a home. This surge was eventually followed by the ‘Great Recession,’ which saw an increase in sales of full-time houses, with lower prices. The pandemic was crazy. Those selling saw top dollar for their homes, often with multiple bids. With rising mortgage rates and a decrease in affordable housing, we once again see difficulty in financing homes for full-time residents. Although it is still a very strong market, properties need to be priced properly or slightly on the low side, to encourages multiple bids.”
A note on our data: Numbers’ wonks should note that New York State-provided data used here is much more inclusive than multiple listing results, which do not include sales transacted privately.
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.