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.


Realtors Meet with State Legislators


Lance Evans

Last month I wrote about our meetings with our United States senators and congresswoman in mid-May. Several days after returning, a number of area Realtors and other interested parties went to Albany to meet with our state representatives on May 23 about several state-specific issues of interest to area homeowners. This was part of the New York State Association of Realtors’ annual Lobby Day. Over 250 Realtors from around the state participated.

    The Tri-County area was represented by Linda and Pat Fields (Linda J. Fields Broker and Professional Institute for Real Estate Training), Lisa L’Huillier (Hefferon Real Estate), Karen Peebles (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CNY Realty), Chuck Ruggiero (Hefferon Real Estate), Cheryl Schroy (Key Bank), Vickie Staie (Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Services and Appraisals USA), and Jennifer Stevenson (Blue Heron Realty) along with me. During the day, we met with Senators Joe Griffo (47th District), Betty Little (45th District) and Patty Ritchie (48th District). In addition, we had meetings with members of the Assembly Will Barclay (120th District), Ken Blankenbush (117th District), Marc Butler (118th District) and Addie Jenne (116th District). We informed them about the current housing market and our stances on several issues.

    We began by talking about the NY First Home Program. This is a first-time home buyer savings account program introduced by Senator Little and Assemblyman Phil Ramos (6th District). If passed into law, it would create a new tax-free savings account modeled after the State’s 529 College Savings Program. NY First Home would help New Yorkers achieve the dream of homeownership by creating a dedicated savings account to be used exclusively to cover costs associated with the purchase of a first home in New York state, whether that is a single family residence, condo, cooperative apartment or townhome.

    Using this program, New Yorkers could cover costs associated with the purchase of a first home using this dedicated savings account to deposit up to $5,000 ($10,000 for couples) of after-tax dollars annually, receive a state income tax deduction on the principal investment and grow savings tax-free, and then apply the savings and interest towards the purchase of a first home in New York state.

    The largest inhibitors for hopeful first-time home buyers in New York state are the initial up-front closing costs and high down-payment requirements. Enactment of NY First Home would provide New Yorkers with a practical savings mechanism to make buying a first home more affordable in New York state. This incentive would also have a positive effect on retaining young people in the state and provide a boost to local and state economies.

    A Sienna Research Institute poll in December 2016 found that 84 percent of New Yorkers supported NY First Home and 80 percent agreed that the governor and Legislature should make assisting New Yorkers in saving for a first home a priority.

    This bill passed the Senate during the 2016 session and is working its way through both houses in 2017.

    Our second issue concerned reinstating the STAR Exemption Program and sunset the School Tax Relief credit program that was written into law last year. Although both called “STAR,” the two programs work differently. The previous version provided immediate or “upfront” reductions in school taxes for homeowners.

    The change in 2016 to the STAR credit program led to confusion with new home buyers unsure of whether or not they would see the upfront savings as an exemption or be mailed a check under the credit program. In the worst instances, many homeowners received STAR credit checks later than when their school taxes were due, making it difficult to pay the full school tax bill. It is also still unclear from the Department of Tax and Finance whether or not future STAR credit checks will be taxed as income. This legislation would return the STAR program to a predictable upfront tax benefit to New York’s homeowners.

    The legislation has passed the Assembly and is working its way through the Senate.

    Realtors will continue to watch these issues and advocate for current and future New York property owners with our federal, state, and local officials.

LANCE M. EVANS is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Contact him at His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

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September 2016: Top Transactions

The following property sales were recorded in the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office in August:

$665,000: Aug. 30, Town of Watertown: Four parcels, 0.5548 acres, 231-233 Goodale St., Franklin St., 26-44 Public Square and 124-132 Franklin St., Myron Kehoe, Watertown, Kehick Development LLC, East Syracuse, and Kehoe Development LLC, East Syracuse, sold to Watertown Holdings LLC, Watertown.

$460,000: Aug. 19, Town of Orleans: Two parcels, 1.581 acres, Lake of the Isles, Fred H. Shafer and Primrose M. Shafer, Wellesley Island, sold to Todd W. Cowman and Cindy Bowman, Camden.

$450,000: Aug. 19, Village of Alexandria Bay: 0.545 acres, 5 Fuller St., 5 Fuller St., LLC, Alexandria Bay, sold to CF Coffeen LLC, Alexandria Bay.

$325,000: Aug. 18, town of Clayton: No acreage listed, Lot. No. 4, Block No. 1, Roosevelt Highway Tract, Darcy J Joncas, Taveres, Fla., sold to Potter Boulevard LLC, Clayton.

$303,000: Aug. 8, Town of Orleans: 0.5 acres, Clayton-Alexandria Bay Road, Martin W. Ham, Roanoke, Va., as trustee of the Philip W. Ham and Janice P. Ham Revocable Living Trust Agreement, sold to Mark G. Nowak, Syracuse.

$300,000: Aug. 5, Town of Clayton: 0.13 acres, 538 Riverside Drive, 538 Water Street Corp., Clayton, sold to Village of Clayton, Clayton.

$279,000: Aug. 2, Town of LeRay: 11.49 acres, County Route 16, Nicholas O. Sherwood by his attorney, Karen Ernest, Watertown, and Stephanie L. Sherwood, Evans Mills, sold to Jeffrey D. Foster and Amebr R. Foster, Middletown, R.I.

$275,000: Aug. 2, Town of Watertown: 3.7 acres, town road from Burrville to Middle Road, J. Patrick Campbell and Debra Campbell, Watertown, sold to David C. Meade and Joelle R. Meade, Watertown.

$275,000: Aug. 17, Town of LeRay: 0.504 acres, Lot No. 19, Riverbend Estates, state Route 3, Christopher Sean Cannon and Amanda M. Cannon, Watertown, sold to Peter M. Ward and Lauren A. Ward, Columbia, S.C.

$268,500: Aug. 11, Town of LeRay: 0.573 acres, Cullen Drive, Jason E. Walters and Heather Walters, Watertown, sold to Kevin G. Bischof and Erica L. Bischof, Watertown.

The following property sales were recorded in the St. Lawrence County Clerk’s Office in August:

$450,000: Aug. 9, Village of Potsdam: Parcel 1) 0.64 of an acre more or less, Parcel 2) Unknown acres, bounded by Market and Garden streets, Parcel 3) Unknown acres, bounded by Pierrepont Ave., Parcel 4) 2.97 acres more or less, bounded by Elm St., B.H. Properties Inc., Potsdam, sold to Clark R. Porter, Gouverneur.

$400,000: Aug. 2, Town of Canton: 4 acres more or less, Lot 1, bounded by Ames Road, Neil J. St. Andrews Jr., Colton, sold to The Bicknell Corporation, Potsdam.

$365,000: Aug. 12, Town of Waddington: 0.353 of an acre more or less, bounded by St. Lawrence River Road, Westbrook Bates and Olga Margaret Roman Bates, Waddington, sold to David W. and Julie F. McBath, Waddington.

$350,000: Aug. 11, Village of Norwood: Parcel 1) 0.415 of an acre more or less, bounded by River Street, Parcel 2) 0.54 of an acre more or less, bounded by Spring Street, Parcel 3) 0.292 of an acre more or less, bounded by Spring Street, also in Town of Potsdam: Parcel 1) 0.126 of an acre more or less, Mile Square 10, bounded by Spring Street, Marisa G Perry (executor), Jennifer L Kain, Standish, sold to Gilchrist IV Enterprises LLC, Norwood.
$337,500: Aug. 8, Town of Waddington: 0.345 of an acre more or less, bounded by River Road, Terry K. and Esther M. Alsup, Waddington, sold to Troy F. and Erin E. Groebler, Brasher Falls.

$249,000: Aug. 1, Town of Potsdam: 1.5 acres more or less, Miel Square 68, bounded by Outer Main Street, Christopher and Teresa Stone, Potsdam, sold to Anthony K. And Kristen S. Betrus, Potsdam.

$245,000: Aug. 8, Town of Morristown: 0.75 of an acre more or less, Lot 35, bounded by Blackstone Bay Road East, Marjorie Hamann, Rochester, sold to Dennis and luAnne Murphy, Morristown.

$227,000: Aug. 1, Town of Canton: 16.298 acres more or less, bounded by Hale’s Lot, Joseph L. and Normadine D. Kennedy, Daytona Beach, Fla., sold to Steven G. and Cara Dodge Coffin, Lisbon.

$225,000: Aug. 1, Town of Hammond: 3 acres more or less, bounded ny Little Chippewa Point, Richard and Linda Johnson, Rochester, sold to Little Chippewa Point, LLC, N.Y.

$183,350: Aug. 1, Town of Pierrepont: 0.6678 of an acre more or less, bound by the Underhill Drive, Kelly P. Bush, Hannawa Falls, sold to Richard N. Raymondville.