Thriving Successfully in A Real Estate World

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS
Lori Nettles, right, and Tania Sterling, left, own their own real estate firm, TLC Real Estate.

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Third Quarter Sales: Tri-county home sales drop to lowest price point

BY: Marcus Wolf
Realtors sold more homes in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties during the third quarter last year than any third quarter in the past four years, with prospective homebuyers securing stable employment cited as the reason.

    Third quarter median home prices for both counties, however, fell to their lowest during that time as homes, particularly foreclosures, were sold at lower prices.

    “We’ve seen economic recovery in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties,” said Lance M. Evans, executive officer of both the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and St. Lawrence Board of Realtors. “From the big downturn, unfortunately, we also had some foreclosures.”

    The number of houses sold in Jefferson County during the third quarter increased from the same time in 2016 by 34 units, or 10.3 percent, from 330 units to 364, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

    At the same time, the third quarter median home price in Jefferson County fell from the same quarter 2016 by $16,750, or about 11 percent, from $152,000 to $135,250.

    Vickie L. Staie, president of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, said the U.S. Department of Defense has been stationing more soldiers and federal employees at Fort Drum and providing more long-term work to some current Fort Drum workers, which has led to more home purchases.

    Investors have also driven up homes sales during the third quarter by continuing to purchase foreclosed homes on the cheap and refurbishing them to later sell at a higher value, which has also lowered the median price.

     “I think it’ll have a great effect. We’re eliminating many zombie homes in our area,” Mrs. Staie said.

    Zombie properties are homes that owners abandoned after they stopped paying the mortgage and before banks began the foreclosure process.

    Homes sales during the third quarter in St. Lawrence County were up from the same time in 2016 by 23 units, or 11.3 percent, from 204 units to 227, according to St. Lawrence Board of Realtors.

    The third quarter median home price in the county fell from the same quarter in 2016 by $7,250, or 7.2 percent, from $101,250 to $94000.

    Richard J. Wood, president of the St. Lawrence Board of Realtors, said the Canton-Potsdam Hospital expansion continued to bring more homebuyers to the county. Several people also moved from a different home within the county to expand or downsize, which also drove up homes sales.

    “I think it has a lot to do with the length of time on the market,” Mr. Wood. “People want to wrap stuff up before it gets to the cold weather.”

    Prospective buyers also bought several foreclosed properties in the county, which Mr. Wood, who owns RJ Wood Real Estate LLC in Gouverneur, said brought down the median price.

“I’ve seen homes go right now that have sold for $10,000,” he said.

    Unlike Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, home sales in Lewis County remained relatively flat in the third quarter compared to the same time in 2016.

    The number of houses sold in Lewis County decreased slightly from the same time in 2016 by two units, or about 3.3 percent, from 61 to 59.

    The median home price for the third quarter in Lewis County, however, decreased from the same quarter in 2016 by $20,000, or 17.4 percent, from $115,000 to $95,000.

    Mrs. Staie, who also owns Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Services LLC and Appraisals USA in Alexandria Bay, said several sellers’ asking prices were too much when compared to their market value, which keeps them on the market for a while. Many homes that sold during the third quarter were winter camps and cottages.

    “That brought (the median price) down a bit,” she said.

    Home sales from January to September last year increased from the same time in 2016 in all three counties. 

    The number of houses sold during the first three quarters increased in Jefferson County by 130 homes, or 18.3 percent, from 711 to 841; in Lewis County by 13 homes, or 8.9 percent, from 146 to 159, and in St. Lawrence County by 63 homes, or 12.7 percent, from 496 homes to 559.

    Foreclosure and waterfront home sales drove up the number of units sold last year in Jefferson County, Mrs. Staie said. The Kraft-Heinz plant expansion in Lowville led more people to buy homes in Lewis County, she said.

    “I think people are seeing the advantage of buying over renting,” Mr. Evans said. “It looks like we’re going to have a lot higher number for units sold than we had in previous years.”

    The median price for homes during the first three quarters of 2017 in Jefferson and Lewis counties, however, fell compared to the same time last year.

    The median home price for the first three quarters this year decreased in Jefferson County by $3,500, or 2.5 percent, from $138,500 to $135,000, and in Lewis County by $15,500, or 14.7 percent, from $90,000 to $105,500. Both price drops were driven by foreclosure sales, Mr. Evans said.

    “There are always foreclosures. There will always be foreclosures,” Mr.  Evans said.

    The median price in St. Lawrence County for the first three quarters of 2017, however, has remained relatively flat for the past four years.

    The price for the first three quarters of 2017 only increased by $1,000, or 1.3 percent, from $88,000 to $89,000.

    “We don’t have huge jumps,” in price, Mr. Wood said.

    Statewide, home sales in the third quarter decreased from the same quarter in 2016 by 1,248 units, or 3.1 percent, from 39,693 units to 38,445 units, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. The statewide third-quarter median home price, however, was up this year by $12,500, or five percent, from $249,000 in 2015 to $261,500.

 

Quarter One Homes Sales Higher than Last

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS

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Home sales and median price rise in north country last quarter

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS
36114 County Route 46,Theresa, NY 13691 is a cabin on the Indian River.

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Costlier home sales fuel Q3 prices

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The house at 207 Elm Street sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The house at 207 Elm Street sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

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Jefferson, St. Lawrence median home prices up last quarter, but sales figures down in Lewis County

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The house at 215 Butterfield Avenue sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The house at 215 Butterfield Avenue sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

By MARCUS WOLF
MWOLF@WDT.NET

Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in the third quarter of the year, but a loss of employment opportunities in Lewis County decreased the median price and kept the number of houses sold relatively flat.

The number of houses sold in Jefferson County increased last quarter by 80 units, or 33 percent, from 246 to 326, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. The median home price in Jefferson County also increased by $2,875, or 1.9 percent, from $148,625 to $151,500, and the median number of days on the market for a house increased by 30 days, or 49.2 percent, from 61 to 91.

Randy T. Raso, president of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, said the proposed missile defense site at Fort Drum encouraged more prospective home buyers to purchase homes in the area, driving up home sales last quarter.

“A lot of folks hear things like that and their first thought is, ‘Should I invest in this area?’” Mr. Raso said. “I have worked with people overseas … who are interested in investing in the area.”

Foreclosed properties that investors purchased earlier this year were put back on the market and sold at higher prices, Mr. Raso said, raising both the number of units sold and the median price. For instance, a developer would renovate a house valued at $100,000 at the time of purchase and resell it for $30,000 to $40,000 more.

“They are buying them up as a deal and are fixing them to make more of a profit,” he said. “So that raised the median price. Not only does that help the city and the area, but it also increases the value of the home.”

Lance M. Evans, executive officer of both the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence boards, said that brokers sold more single-family, year-around homes at higher prices and waterfront summer cottages last quarter. For example, one Realtor, Mr. Evans said, sold a $999,999 cottage in Henderson.

“The bottom line is that in the north country real estate market … homes are still priced nicely and interest rates are still low,” he said.

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The house at 1028 Holcomb Street sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

STEPHEN SWOFFORD n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The house at 1028 Holcomb Street sold above median price for the area. Incentives driven by economic development and home buyers purchasing more expensive homes increased the number of homes sold in Jefferson County and the median price in both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County last quarter.(Wolf story)

Compared with 2015, home sales from January to September this year increased in Jefferson County by 96 units, or 15.7 percent, from 611 to 707. The median price for homes for the nine-month period in Jefferson County, however, decreased by $27,700, or 18 percent, from $154,000 to $126,300. The median number of days on the market is also up from 2015 by 16 days, or 21 percent, from 77 to 93.

Mr. Raso said investors were less likely to purchase properties in the city of Watertown while the City Council discussed Councilman Stephen A. Jennings’s proposed rental registration and inspection law. Under its initial version proposed in August, the law would have required landlords, including ones who operated outside of Jefferson County, to register all of their properties with the city and have them inspected once every three years.

“Investors felt like they were being penalized for a few people who did not take care of their properties in the area,” Mr. Raso said. “It put a lot of folks on hold.”

In St. Lawrence County, the number of units sold last quarter decreased from the same time in 2015 by 25 units, or 11.7 percent, from 214 to 189, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The median price, however, increased by $12,880, or 14.2 percent, from $91,000 to $103,880, and the median number of days on the market was down last quarter by six days, or 7 percent, from 88 to 82.

Debra J. Gilson, president of the St. Lawrence Board of Realtors and a broker for County Seat Realty, said that having a low inventory in areas such as Canton and Potsdam could have caused a decrease in sales, although some areas such as Massena still have an overabundance of units on the market. While the number of units sold was slightly down, Mrs. Gilson said, waterfront property purchases drove up the median price last quarter.

“And of course, interest rates are at an all-time low,” she said.

The number of units sold from January to September this year increased from 2015 in St. Lawrence County by 15 units, or 3.2 percent, from 466 to 481. The median price increased from the same period in 2015 by $1,750, or 2 percent, from $87,250 to $89,000, and the median number of days was up by five days, or 5 percent, from 99 to 104.

Lewis County home sales remained relatively flat last quarter compared with the third quarter in 2015, decreasing by only four units, or 6.3 percent, from 64 to 60, according to the Jefferson-Lewis County Board of Realtors. The median price also decreased in Lewis County by $22,750, or 16.5 percent, from $137,750 to $115,000, and the median number of days on the market dropped by 35 days, or 31.3 percent, from 112 to 77.

The number of units sold from January to September this year increased from 2015 in Lewis County by two units, or 1.3 percent, 143 to 145. The median price for 2016, however, decreased from 2015 by $14,500, or 12.2 percent, from $119,000 to $104,500, and the median number of days on the market dropped by 34 days, or 27 percent, from 128 to 94.

When Climax Packaging, Lowville, closed in April and laid off 157 workers, Mr. Raso said that slowed the economy and caused a drop in both sales and the median price last quarter. For this year, Mr. Raso said, an overall lack of employment opportunities in the county affected the median price and number of units sold.

August 2016 Feature Story: Real Estate

Mixed bag in Q2 real estate report

Jefferson up, Lewis down, St. Lawrence flat

By Marcus Wolf, NNY Business

Second quarter home sales in Jefferson County are up from the same quarter last year, but are down in Lewis County and relatively the same in St. Lawrence County. [Read more…]

May 2016 Feature Story: Real Estate

Jefferson, Lewis home prices dip

Slight increase in Q1 median price for St. Lawrence County

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

The median price of Jefferson County homes sold during the first quarter fell by $33,000 compared to the same period in 2015, a trend that suggests more foreclosed homes are being snapped up.

The median price fell by 22 percent from $147,000 to $114,000, and the 25 lowest-priced homes during the first quarter sold from $9,000 to $40,000, according to Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. Those home sales were among 137 made over the period, down by 12 units, or 8 percent, from the 149 sold in the first quarter of 2015.

Mr. Evans said homes in the county that were foreclosed on by banks appear to be in high demand among investors and landlords that see value in rehabilitating them.

“We’ve had a lot more investors who are picking up properties for great bargains,” he said last month. “A lot of these houses are going to be turned around, flipped or rented. But they need to be fixed up first.”

The decline in the number of homes sold over the period comes as the market in the county continues to be impacted by the abundance of new rental housing options, Mr. Evans said. New rental complexes built over the past five years to meet demand at Fort Drum have contributed to the buyer’s market.

“You’re starting to see more specials out there for free months of rent,” he said.

Compared with the same period last year, the first-quarter median home price in Lewis County dropped by $39,500, or 34 percent, from $117,000 to $77,500, according to the Jefferson-Lewis board. The number of homes sold over the period, however, climbed by 17 units, or 74 percent, from 23 to 40.

Mr. Evans said that Lewis County, like Jefferson, also had several homes sell for under $50,000 in the first quarter, causing the median price to dip from last year.

In St. Lawrence County, however, the first-quarter median price home price increased slightly by $2,750, or 3 percent, from $79,250 to $82,000, according to the county Board of Realtors. And over the same period, the number of homes sold increased by 31 units, or 34 percent, from 90 to 121.

Debra J. Gilson, a broker for County Seat Realty in Canton who serves as president of the St. Lawrence board, said that mild winter weather helped spur more first-quarter home sales across the county.

Because it takes about eight weeks to close on home sales, she said, many deals initially made in November and December are included in first-quarter statistics. Realtors across the county enjoyed similar success during the winter by selling a lot of homes, she said.

“A typical December would be about four transactions, but I had 12 sales on the books for December alone,” she said. “I attribute a lot of that to the mild weather and also to the low interest rates that buyers know will go up.”

The Jefferson-Lewis board has 335 Realtor members and the St. Lawrence board has 184, Mr. Evans said.

March 2016 Feature Story: Real Estate

A commitment to community

Mary Adair, broker/owner of Exit More Real Estate, Watertown and Clayton, in her Watertown office. Mrs. Adair bought the Watertown real estate franchise in 2011 and has since expanded with a second office in Clayton. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Mary Adair, broker/owner of Exit More Real Estate, Watertown and Clayton, in her Watertown office. Mrs. Adair bought the Watertown real estate franchise in 2011 and has since expanded with a second office in Clayton. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Real estate the perfect ‘second act’ for Exit More broker-owner

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

Only five words are needed to characterize the owner of Exit More Real Estate: “Mary Adair is always there.”

Mrs. Adair has taken the phrase, designated by her employees and customers, to symbolize her open door-style of business.

“Our backbone is the service we give our customers,” she said. “We show them that we care. You have to show them how much you care before they care.”

Making herself available to her customers is the first step to showing that, Mrs. Adair said, whether it’s dealing with home inspections and appraisals or overcoming obstacles with her customers.

Mrs. Adair includes not only her customers under her open door policy, but for her business, the same policies start at the office.

“Mary is top of the line,” said Karen Jorden, administrative assistant and agent at Exit More. She’s just like a mother figure. She’s got that way about her.”

Ms. Jorden said Mrs. Adair has made the office environment more like a family culture because she’s always able to listen and help resolve problems.

Mrs. Adair goes out of her way to provide training and resources for her employees as well, Ms. Jorden said, limiting out of pocket costs for her staff.

“I love helping the agents grow and I love watching them grow,” Mrs. Adair said of her job as a mentor to her staff.

For Ms. Jorden, this support from Mrs. Adair meant the world to her when Mrs. Adair recommended her for the job as administrative assistant to their former broker.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Ms. Jorden said. “To be appreciated the way Mary appreciated me is beyond the ability to put into words.

Despite her success, real estate wasn’t a career that Mrs. Adair envisioned for herself, though, while she was an accountant until 2003.

She was convinced to pursue a career as a real estate agent who was working to sell an old house for her and her husband.

“I was tired of sitting behind a desk,” Mrs. Adair said. “I wanted to do something different.”

By the fall of 2003, Mrs. Adair was licensed and working for a small independent real estate company before joining Exit Moore in 2007.

“I’ve found it to be not just a rewarding career, but a challenging one,” she said.

Mrs. Adair said she found her passion in helping people fulfill their dreams, whether it was buying a house or selling one. A passion that led her to be named 2009 Realtor of the Year by the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

To her surprise, though, her journey didn’t end there. Four years after joining Exit More Real Estate, her broker, Debbie Moran, announced she was retiring and asked Mrs. Adair is she would like to buy the business.

“I was very happy where I was,” she said. “I never envisioned this.”
Mrs. Adair said she had decided not to buy the business, but her husband, Jerry, changed her mind.

“He said ‘If you don’t buy it, who will buy it? And will it still be Exit,’” she said.

The Exit More Real Estate name symbolized a great deal to her, Adair said, because the word “more” depicted what the business was about.

She bought the franchise in 2011, and two years later she expanded into Clayton, opening an office on Riverside Drive.

Those decisions, though, were the most difficult for another reason.

“Exit was fairly new, only five years old,” Mrs. Adair said. “No one had heard of it.”

It was during that time that she developed her reputation for always being there with a campaign of consistent community involvement.

She decided that the best way to make Exit More Real Estate stand out would be to show the company’s commitment to the people and their community by participating in a coat drive, WPBS-TV auctions, Habitat for Humanity and the North Country Festival of Trees.

The policy was continued in Clayton in 2013 with the Clayton Christmas Parade and the North Country Goes Green Irish Festival parade in Watertown.

“I felt that was a good way to get across who we were,” she said. “We work so hard and we do a good job for people. They remember that.”

The Mary Adair file

Hometown: Lowville

Professional: Broker and owner of Exit More Real Estate

Family: Husband, Jerry Adair; daughters, Tracy Moody and Lorri Norris; two grandsons

Education: Jefferson Community College

Community: Treasurer, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors

Recommended Read: “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

Karee Magee is a magazine associate for NNY Magazines. Contact her at kmagee@wdt.net or 661-2381.

February 2016 Feature Story: Real Estate

Jefferson home sales slide in ’15

For sale signs are popping up all over Watertown, where a strong buyer’s market has been created by an influx of new housing stock and deployments at Fort Drum. Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

For sale signs are popping up all over Watertown, where a strong buyer’s market has been created by an influx of new housing stock and deployments at Fort Drum. Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Real estate posts stronger year in Lewis, St. Lawrence cos.

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

Homes sold in Jefferson County in 2015 were dampened by a buyer’s market, while sales in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties were up from 2014. [Read more…]