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)

[Read more…]

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…]

December 2015 Feature Story: Real Estate

Q3 sales a mixed bag across region

Jefferson falls St. Lawrence, Lewis gain

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

Real estate agents sold fewer homes during the third quarter in Jefferson County than the same period a year ago, while sales climbed in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. [Read more…]

August 2015 Feature Story: Real Estate

Region sees gains in Q2 home sales

More certainty about Drum boosts ’15 outlook

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

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

June 2015 Feature Story: Real Estate

A professional education leader

Linda J. “Lin” Fields is the primary instructor and driving force behind Watertown’s Professional Institute for Real Estate Training. Photo by Norm Johnston, NNY Business.

Linda J. “Lin” Fields is the primary instructor and driving force behind Watertown’s Professional Institute for Real Estate Training. Photo by Norm Johnston, NNY Business.

By Gabrielle Hovendon, NNY Business Magazine

Do you know how to sell a house? How to manage a property or navigate license law? Do you know the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor? [Read more…]

May 2015 Real Estate Feature Story: Q1

Home sales, prices rise in Q1 data

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

The prospect of troop cuts at Fort Drum hasn’t slowed the housing market in Jefferson County.

The number of homes sold in the county during the first quarter of 2015 is up from the same period last year by 17 units, or 13 percent, from 134 to 151, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. The median home price, meanwhile, climbed over the same period by $16,600, or 13 percent, from $129,800 to $146,400.

“We still had a long winter this year and the snow stuck around, but we didn’t have it coming down every other day like last year, when sales were down,” said Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis board. “We’re selling more homes at better prices … And there is still a core group in the military who are going to be buying homes wherever they go, instead of renting.”

Of the 151 homes sold in the county during the first quarter, 45 units, or 30 percent, were purchased by military members who secured loans from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Mr. Evans said. During the first quarter of 2014, 49 homes, or 37 percent, were bought with VA loans. And of the 910 homes sold in 2014, 293 units, or 32 percent, were bought with VA loans.

Homes bought with VA loans “have been holding at around 30 percent,” Mr. Evans said. “Barring major troop cuts, I think it’s going to continue to be a steady portion of our sales.”

Mr. Evans added that while the county’s median home prices fell in 2014 from 2013, he believes that strong first-quarter numbers this year indicate homes will likely continue to be sold at higher prices than last year. In 2014, he said, real estate brokers sold houses at lower prices largely because of the greater availability of new rental housing countywide. But the majority of the units are now occupied at some new rental complexes in the Watertown area, he said, such as the Beaver Meadow Apartments complex on Towne Center Drive and the 394-unit Preserve at Autumn Ridge complex on County Route 202.

“A lot of people moved in when units were brand new, but that has changed,” he said.

Even so, more rental units are slated to be built soon in the Watertown area.

The developer of the Autumn Ridge complex, Morgan Management of Pittsford, plans to start building a 359-unit townhouse complex this year to the east of County Route 202. And the developer of the Beaver Meadows complex, COR Development of Fayetteville, will start construction this year on an apartment complex at the former Mercy Hospital site with 160 to 200 rental units, along with retail and office space. The project is expected to be finished in 2016.

In Lewis County, statistics from the Jefferson-Lewis board show the median home sale price during the first quarter climbed from the same period last year by $18,500, or 19 percent, from $98,500 to $117,000. The number of homes sold over the same period decreased by 13 units, or 36 percent, from 36 to 23.

During the first quarter in St. Lawrence County, the median home sale price increased from the same period last year by $7,500, or 11 percent, from $68,000 to $75,500, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The number of homes sold over the same period increased by 8 units, or 11 percent, from 73 to 81.

The Jefferson-Lewis board has 333 Realtor members and the St. Lawrence board has 185, Mr. Evans said.

Ted Booker is a Johnson Newspapers staff writer. Contact him at tbooker@wdt.net or 661-2371.