Realtors: It’s Becoming More Common
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – When P.J. Mellana spent a post-graduation week in Cooperstown with his dad in 1997, he never imagined that, one day, he would own property in the land that baseball built.
“We love it here,” he said. “Last summer, my son PJ was on a traveling team, and he played at All-Star Village. We just fell in love with the area.”
So Mellana, who lives in La Habra, Calif., recently bought a three-bedroom property in Milford that he has dubbed “Dreams Farmhouse.”
Though he intends to rent it out to baseball families for the near future, one day, he and his wife Kari intend to spend their retirement here.
“Our son was staying at the All-Star Village, but my wife Kari and I rented a motel,” he said. “Our friends rented houses, and we would go spend the evenings with them. We just looked around and thought it was such a good idea.
“As soon as I got home, I started looking into it.”
They connected with Michele Barry, a realtor who runs Lake Lady Property Management.
“She looked at houses for us and explained how it would work,” he said. “I worked on the finances, and when it was official, Kari and I came up for a weekend to look at the houses.”
That weekend was Cooptoberfest, and, in between enjoying fall in Otsego County, they looked at 10 potential sites, including the Milford farmhouse. “The minute my wife went inside, she loved it,” he said. “Me, I was just outside, looking at the beautiful land. It all just aligned.”
And they’re not the only ones who have started planning for retirement in the Cooperstown countryside. Barry has sold another baseball family – this one from Kansas City – an investment property.
“They came for baseball camps and fell in love,” she said. “It’s an emerging phenomenon. I know if I came here from someplace different, I’d want to retire here too.”
Margaret Savoie, Don Olin Realty, has also seen a surge. “People come up and love it here and have bought property,” she said. “It’s a growing industry.”
The majority of her rental properties, she said, are sold to local investors. “It’s hard to maintain a home from a distance,” she said. “But buying houses and renting them is quite a deal.”
Several years ago, realtor Rob Lee said, he met a family in town for a vacation and sold them a parcel of land on Route 33 before they left. “The idea was that they would retire there,” he said. “They bought a house and put it up, and bought the property next to it as well.”
Then, only 18 months ago, Lee said, they followed through. “I meet people at the Doubleday Café and start talking to them, and sometimes I end up selling them a property!” he said.
The whole Mellana family, including PJ, daughter Reagan, 11, and son Cooper, 7 – yes, named for Cooperstown – spent Easter here. The highlights included the Hyde Hall Easter Egg Hunt. “Michele made the house look so nice and homey,” he said. “It was furnished when we bought it, but it needed a few things, and she went out and got them for us.”
He put the house up for rent and made a website, and soon, the rentals started coming in. “We were worried at first because we only had a few,” he said. “But now we only have two weeks left open!”
“Eventually, the property pays for itself,” said Barry. “It’s a great investment.”
But it’s more than an investment for Mellana.
“We’re not just out there to turn it over and make a profit,” he said. “We want everyone renting there to have the same great experience we had.”