2018 Housing Market Landscape: Majority believe good time to buy, sell

LANCE EVANS

The winter months in the north country are traditionally a slow time for real estate. It is a good time for people to reassess their housing situation.  For instance, is it time to downsize, time to get a bigger home, buy a second property, or stop renting? Potential buyers and sellers can also reflect on last year’s housing market data and examine the 2018 outlook so they can better prepare themselves for entering the market and buying or selling a home.

    Nationally, home sales and prices both increased in 2017.  In 2018, national existing-home sales are projected to be unchanged from 2017, at about 5.5 million sales, after rising the past three years, and the median home price will edge up only about 2 percent. One of the biggest challenges in 2018 will continue to be the low levels of homes available for sale.

    Regionally, the story was slightly different.  According to figures from the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors, all three counties (Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence) experienced stronger single-family home sales in 2017 than the previous three years.  In fact, unit sales were up 6 to 12 percent over 2016 and 25 to 3 percent over 2014. In addition, the number of homes for sale has declined year over year, which corresponds to the national picture.

    However, all three counties experienced a decline in median price, with St. Lawrence County having the smallest decline and Lewis County the largest.  The average price has also declined.  Some of this is due to an increase in homes sold through foreclosure. 

    The National Association of Realtor’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey tracks topical real estate trends and renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership.  Released in December, the quarterly survey showed that at the end of 2017 a smaller share of homeowners believed that now is a good time to buy or sell a home, even with strong job creation and faster economic growth in the last months of 2017.  Optimism that now is a good time to buy has slipped from 62 percent in the third quarter of last year to 60 percent, up from 57 percent in December 2016.

    The report also found that 76 percent of homeowners think now is a good time to list their home for sale, which is down from last quarter (80 percent) but up from a year ago (67 percent). 

    This data should help potential buyers and sellers better understand the market environment and know what to expect in 2018.  Working with a real estate professional, they can apply the lessons learned from the past year and expectations for the year ahead to achieve their home buying and selling goals.


    In early February, fifteen Realtors from the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors and I attended the New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR) Mid-Winter Leadership Conference and Business Meetings at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.  We joined over 450 other attendees from around the state for meetings and informational sessions designed to enhance and advance real estate in New York and around the country.

    During the conference, Jennifer Stevenson (Blue Heron Realty, Ogdensburg) was sworn in as NYSAR’s 2018 secretary-treasurer.  This puts her in line to be NYSAR’s president in 2020.  As secretary-treasurer, Ms. Stevenson will oversee the finances of the State Association, chair NYSAR’s Investment Committee and Budget & Finance Committee, serve on the Executive Committee, and be part of the elected leadership team joining President CJ DelVecchio of Ithaca and Moses Seuram of Flushing.

                In addition, Lisa L’Huillier (Hefferon Real Estate, Watertown) was sworn in for a second term as governor for the state’s Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) Network.  Ms. L’Huillier, a past president of both the local and state WCR networks, will work with the WCR networks in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, as well as the local tri-county network.

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 levans@nnymls.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

 

Women’s Council of Realtors Honors Area Realtors

Lance Evans

January brought changes and new faces to the leadership of the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, and the Tri-County Network of the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR).

    On December 8, the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors held its annual Holiday Lunch and Installation of Officers and Directors at Ogdensburg’s Gran-View on the River. During this event, the present officers, directors, and committee chairs were recognized and the 2018 Board of Directors was sworn in. The Association will be led by Richard J. Wood (RJ Wood Real Estate) as President. Joining him will be Vice President Brittany Matott (County Seat Realty), Secretary Doug Hawkins (Sandstone Realty), and Treasurer Amanda Kingsbury (Grey Arrow Real Estate). Rounding out the Board will be immediate Past President Debbie Gilson and returning Directors Joel Howie (JC Howie Appraisals) and Gail Abplanalp (Pat Collins Real Estate). Joining them will be new Director Tracy Barnard (Nikki Coates and Associates) and State Director Wendy Smith (Cross Keys Real Estate). There are two members leaving the Board of Directors, Cheryl Yelle (Yelle Realty) and Korleen Spilman (Century 21 Millennium Realty).  Both were thanked for their service.

    The lunch also featured a lively auction with many items donated by attendees. The $2400 raised was split between the Neighborhood Centers in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, and Waddington.

    Several days later, on December 14, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors held its annual Holiday Party and Installation Dinner at Watertown’s Hilton Garden Inn. Similar to St. Lawrence County’s, a new slate of officers and directors were elected and installed. Leading the Association in 2018 will be Vickie Staie (Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Services and Appraisals USA) as President. Also on the Board of Directors will be President-Elect Alfred Netto (Weichert Realtors Thousand Islands Real Estate), Vice President Britt Abbey (Good Morning Realty and Abbey Appraisals), Recording Secretary Nancy Rome (Rome RSA Realty), Corresponding Secretary Lisa Lowe (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CNY Realty), and Treasurer Mary Adair (Bridgeview Real Estate). Returning directors will include Elizabeth Miller (Century 21 Gentry Realty), Cindy Moyer (Century 21 Millennium Realty), and Randy Raso (Raso Real Estate). Joining them as Directors will be Katharine Dickson (Front Porch Realty) and Desiree Roberts (Lake Ontario Real Estate). Walt Christensen (Howard Hanna Real Estate) will continue in his role as State Director.  Two departing members of the 2017 Board were thanked for their service, Tyler Lago (Homes Realty of Northern New York) and Gwyn Monnat (Howard Hanna Real Estate).

    The dinner also featured both a live and silent auction. The money raised was added to other moneys that were donated for a total of about $3300 which was donated to various area charities.

    During the Jefferson-Lewis event, Vicki Bulger (Howard Hanna Real Estate) was recognized as Realtor of the Year. This honor is bestowed on a Realtor who has been a member for at least five years, is in good standing and to reward the Realtor for effort, time and talent expanded in the interest of their fellow Realtors, their profession, and their community. Vicki was described in the nomination as being honest, having integrity, and as someone who pays attention to details. She was described as knowing the local market, being cheerful, steady, and a competent presence. Vicki has been recognized annually as a Top Producer by the Women’s Council of Realtors. She is a North Country native who has served on the Board of Realtors’ Board of Directors and supported various Association projects like the Community Service Committee, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, and other projects. She is married to John Bulger and has three children, including her daughter Sara who is also a Realtor.  Vicki joined the Association in August 1997.

    The Women’s Council of Realtors installed its Governing Board in October. The group will be led by President Alfred Netto, Vice President Jennifer Bossuot (Humes Realty and Appraisal), Secretary Wendy Smith, Treasurer Kylee Lawrence (Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Services), Membership Director Marsha Gibbons (TLC Real Estate), and Program Director Cheryl Schroy (Key Bank).

What is the Women’s Council of Realtors?

Lance Evans

On Oct. 13, 2008, the Tri-County (NY) Network of the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) was chartered.  It introduced our area to this organization and opened up a new way for Realtors to hone leadership skills, connect with other Realtors and give back to the local area.  So what is WCR and how does it connect to the larger Realtor community?

     In the 1930s, the National Association of Realtors witnessed the growth of women working in real estate and increased participation of women by national conventions, as women were becoming aware of their potential in, and importance to, the industry.

     A Women’s Division had already been created in 1924 by the California Real Estate Association. In 1938, National President Joseph Catherine encouraged the formation of a national Women’s Council after being impressed by the California group. At the Annual Convention in Milwaukee in November 1938, the Board of Directors voted to form a Women’s Division. Thirty-seven women, representing nine states, were at that meeting for the Women’s Council’s inception.

     Through the decades, Women’s Council’s membership growth has reflected the vast number of women choosing to work in real estate as they recognized the immense career benefits combined with a Women’s Council membership, including:

  • Earnings equitable to men’s because “commission is commission.”
  • Flexible work schedules allowing Realtors the ability to raise a family and have a career instead of choosing one or the other.
  • A support system of women in the same field garnering many friendships, networking capabilities and referrals.
  • Confidence through connection with other professional women Realtors.
  • Recognition for their own achievements and success, as well as inspiration and courage to strive for greater successes.

     Despite the name, WCR is open to Realtors of both sexes.  About 10 percent of the more than 12,000 real estate members are male.

     The local network is one of 250 local and state networks nationwide that provide the backbone of WCR.  Most of the work is done by volunteer managers trained to position their groups as a business resource in their Realtor communities.

     Since 1998, incoming network presidents have been trained at the annual Leadership Academy. With its in-depth network management training, the Academy was recognized with the prestigious Leadership Development Trophy in Network Relations from the American Society of Association Executives in its first year. Local networks regularly have networking and educational programs, which are designed to keep members on top of an evolving market. Nationwide, Women’s Council members collectively generate more than $100 million in commissions annually.

     Our local network is made up of 35 Realtors from the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors and 14 sponsors.  In its short existence, it has established several annual events and made its mark on the area. Every March, it holds a “Got Leadership?” luncheon and panel discussion featuring four or five local female leaders.  This year’s edition will be held at noon on Tuesday March 21 at the Italian-American Civic Association on Bellew Avenue in Watertown. It is open to the public.

     In the fall, the network sponsors a “Meet the Candidates” event and Top Producer award galas held for Realtor members of the St. Lawrence County and Jefferson-Lewis Boards of Realtors.  These honor the top 20 percent of members in terms of units sold and units rented.

     In the summer, the network holds a golf tournament. A portion of the proceeds assist a local nonprofit. Past recipients have included the Victim’s Assistance Center, Family Counseling Service, the Sci-Tech Center, the Watertown Urban Mission, the USO at Fort Drum, and the River Community Wellness Program at River Hospital. In 2017, the seventh annual tournament will be at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Friday, July 28. 

     The Tri-County Network has had a number of successes in addition to its events, including having one of its members, Lisa L’Huillier, serve as state network president.  In addition, it has raised over $7,500 for local charities and raised awareness of the role women play in positions of leadership in the north country.

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 levans@nnymls.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

National Radon Action Month, Realtors Give Back in Their Communities

  

Lance Evans

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month.   The EPA notes that “Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family.”

   Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that can seep into your home from the ground.   It is the second most common cause of lung cancer behind smoking.  Basements or any area with protrusions into the ground offer entry points for radon.  Radon tests can determine if high levels are present.

   The EPA suggests testing your home for radon during January.   You can purchase a kit and do it yourself or hire a professional.   In New York state, the Department of Health (www.health.ny.gov) has a list of certified radon testers on their site.  In addition, state residents can fill out a form and mail it with $11, to the department and receive a test kit in the mail.   There is other radon related information on the site also.


   During December, both the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors and the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors raised money and awareness for local charities.

    In the early part of the month, both held their annual holiday parties that included fundraisers for their respective community service funds.

    On December 8, the St. Lawrence County Board distributed $2100 to the Neighborhood Centers in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, and Waddington.   The Centers are overseen by the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program.   Each center has a food pantry and assists with food and other emergencies such as utilities, fuel, and shelter.   They work with families in the area of family development, budgeting, education, and job search. Similarly, the funds raised from the Jefferson-Lewis Board’s event went to support the Salvation Army, the Watertown Urban Mission, and other area charities.   In addition, offices served as collection points for toiletries, food, and clothing that were distributed to the Jefferson County Children’s Home, Salvation Army, and Urban Mission.

   On the 13th and 14th of December, Realtor members from both associations assisted at several area events.   The St. Lawrence County membership volunteered their time at the seventh annual “Lights on the River” in Lisbon on December 13th.   While there, they collected donations of canned goods and cash and helped direct the visitors viewing the displays.   Contributions from the visitors go to about a dozen food pantries throughout the county.   In its first six years, the event raised more than $100,000 and contributed approximately 28,000 pounds of food to area pantries.

   December 14th saw Jefferson-Lewis Realtors brave the winds and snows to man some of the Salvation Army kettles in Watertown and LeRay.   Members were helping the Salvation Army reach its goal of $115,000.

   As you can see, Realtors do more than just work with buyers and sellers.   They live in the communities and give back to the communities too.   In addition to these charitable efforts, Realtors work all year volunteering their time and energy with various charities and community organizations.      


   During the respective holiday parties, the 2017 Board of Directors of each Association was installed.   The role of the Board of Directors is to oversee the Association and set overall policy and direction.

   The St. Lawrence County Board will be led by Debbie Gilson. Other officers will include Cheryl Yelle (Vice President), Doug Hawkins (Secretary), and Amanda Kingsbury (Treasurer).   Directors will be Gail Abplanalp, Joel Howie, and Richard J. Wood.  Rounding out the Board are Brittany Matott, State Director and Korleen Spilman, Immediate Past President.      

     Leading the Jefferson-Lewis Board will be Vickie Staie.   The rest of the officers will be Alfred Netto (President-Elect), Britt Abbey (Vice President), Mary Adair (Treasurer), Nancy Rome (Recording Secretary), and Lisa Lowe (Corresponding Secretary).  Directors include Tyler Lago, Elizabeth Miller, Gwyn Monnat, Cindy Moyer, and Randy Raso.

 

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…]

August 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Student debt’s impact on home ownership

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

A survey on student loan debt and housing released in mid-June showed that 71 percent of non-homeowners with student loans believe their debt is stymieing their ability to purchase a home and slightly more than half of all borrowers expect a delay in buying a home by more than five years. [Read more…]

July 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Top real estate questions and answers

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

I recently spoke to the Watertown Rotary Club about a number of real estate issues, including housing statistics and took questions from those assembled.

Is cash is king?

There is an expression that “cash is king.” However, is that true in real estate? During my talk I noted that cash transactions normally make up about 25 percent of residential sale transactions nationally. For 2016 so far, 35.7 percent are cash. Locally, this year Jefferson County cash sales have accounted for 33.3 percent of residential sales (22 percent in 2015), 35 percent in Lewis County (26 percent in 2015), and 25.8 percent in St. Lawrence (22.6 percent in 2015). While St. Lawrence County as not followed the national trend, why have Jefferson and Lewis counties? Looking at the median price — the price where half the prices are lower and half higher — the cash sale median is $50,000 while the median for non-cash properties is $140,000. Many of the cash sales were due to foreclosure. In fact, about 55 percent of the residential listings that sold for $50,000 or less were foreclosure sales. [Read more…]

June 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Realtors meet members of Congress

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

From May 9 to 14, the National Association of Realtors held its Realtor Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Approximately 8,500 attendees from across the country and around the world attended the annual conference. The week included about 200 meetings and events that covered many real estate topics and allowed NAR members to take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy, and the association. [Read more…]

May 2016: Real Estate Roundup

A final word on property disclosure forms

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

In March and April, I wrote about two state-required real estate forms. The first was the Agency Disclosure form, which is used by real estate licensees every time they work with a new client or customer in a residential real estate transaction. This includes a provision for advanced consent for the firm to represent both the seller and buyer in the transaction. There is a form for the seller/buyer transaction and a separate one for the landlord/tenant transaction. The other form, used in almost every transaction that involves the sale of a one- to four-unit home is the Seller Property Condition Disclosure. [Read more…]

May 2016 Cover Story: Economic Development

Securing a stronger future for the north country

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Despite workforce challenges, regional economic development continues to power positive growth across Northern New York

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A rural and historically challenged region where economic development was often stagnant, the Great Recession dealt a significant blow to New York’s north country as its counties saw a spike in unemployment and manufacturing jobs disappear, including about 600 from Jefferson County alone. [Read more…]