Tri-County Real Estate Sales Rebound

Lance Evans

After being slightly down in 2018, overall property sales (including residential, land, multi-family and commercial properties) in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties were generally higher in 2019. The median price followed this pattern also and days on the market continued to drop. When narrowing the focus to residential units (single-family, townhouse, and condominium), the trends were similar. 

    Residential sales account for about 80 percent of property sales in the tri-county region. Most of these are single-family homes. However, our area records about a dozen townhouses or condominium sales each year which are included in the residential numbers. 

Jefferson County 

    Sales of all property in Jefferson County increased about three percent over 2018 and one percent over 2017 with 1,384 properties changing hands. The median price rose to $139,900 from $125,000 in 2018 and $120,000 in 2017 while days on the market rose slightly from 2018 to 116 days. This was down over three weeks from 2017. 

    Sales of residential properties also increased in 2019, but at a slower rate. Overall, 1,149 residential properties (up from 1,141 in 2018 and 1,135 in 2017) were sold. The median price jumped from $135,000 in 2017 and 2018 to $152,400 in 2019. Meanwhile, days on the market fell four days from 2018 to 95 days and over four weeks from 2017’s 124 day figure.  

St. Lawrence County 

    Results were similar in St. Lawrence County with sales of all properties down slightly from 2018 and up from 2017. Residential property sales rose four percent compared to both 2017 and 2018. 

    In 2019, 883 properties of all kinds changed hands. This was down 11 from 2018, but up six from 2017. The median price rose $3,000 from 2018 to $88,000 and up $9,000 compared to 2017. Days on the market fell 10 days to 181 in 2019 and over three weeks from 2017. 

    Residential sales rose four percent over 2017 and 2018 with 781 homes sold. The median price of $95,000 was about $5,000 higher than 2018 and was up over $10,000 from 2017. Days on the market fell four weeks from 2017 to 2019 and one week from 2018 with residential properties spending 170 days on the market. 

Lewis County 

    Similar to Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, Lewis County had a good year in terms of real estate sales. Unlike the other two counties, unit sales were down from 2017, but up from 2018. 

    The number of properties of all types rebounded from 2018 to 294 units. This was up six units from 2018 but down 12 properties from 2017. Similarly, median price was up over $7,000 from 2018 to $99,000. The 2017 median price was about $2,500 higher than 2019. Like the other two counties, marketing time decreased to 153 days, down from 162 days in the previous two years. 

    Residential sales followed the same pattern with 222 units sold in 2019, up 15 from 2018 but down 16 from 2017. In the reverse of other counties, median price was down from 2018 ($114,450 compared to $119,000) and up from 2017’s $94,000. Residential units spent 122 days on the market in 2019, up one day from 2018, but down a week from 2017. 

New York State 

    Only residential sales figures were available for sales in the state, which fell by a little over one percent from 2018. However the median price for a home increased by five and a half percent. Information on days on the market was not available. 

Notes on the above 

    All of the local figures come from the multiple listing systems of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The New York State Association of Realtors provided the state numbers. Average days on the market is the amount of time between listing the property and the purchase offer being signed. Median price is the middle number of all the prices and is considered more statistically accurate than the average price. 

What is a payment in lieu of taxes?

Jay Matteson

A Payment in Lieu of Taxes or “PILOT” is an economic development tool that may mean the difference between a business locating in your community or locating somewhere else in New York State or the United States. The use of a PILOT brings about a gain in the tax base and usually more jobs. A PILOT helps grow the local economy by helping an existing business grow or a new business to start up in a community. 

    The PILOT works by allowing for a “managed” increase in taxes for the business. Let’s use an example to make this clear. A new business comes into the community and buys an acre of land. Prior to the business opening its doors, the acre of land brings $1,000 of tax revenue to the community. After the business opens its doors, let us say the full taxes on the higher-valued property is $20,000. To help the business get started and better manage its initial startup expenses, a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement is negotiated. The PILOT may last for 15 years, under which the business would pay 25% of the higher tax assessment for the first 5 years (an additional $5,000/yr.), 50% ($10,000/yr.) for the next 5 years, 75% ($15,000) for the last five years, and then ramp up to the full tax of $20,000 in year 16. This is all new money for the community. The business started out on year one paying more in taxes than was collected before the business opened it doors. More tax revenue for the community. By year 16 the company was paying full taxation on the property. If the PILOT had not been employed, the business may not have started or may have decided to locate elsewhere which equals no increase in the tax base or local jobs. 

    This was a simple example of how a PILOT may be set up. The PILOT helps the company manage its tax increases over a negotiated number of years. The following is a real example of a PILOT negotiated with Great Lakes Cheese Company in Adams in 2007 when they began considering building a new cheese plant. Great Lakes was considering moving the plant to western New York and was receiving pressure to do so. Jefferson County Economic Development stepped in and helped the company by negotiating a 20-year PILOT because of the size of the project and the number of jobs created. As you review the graph, you’ll see the taxes paid by Great Lakes Cheese went up $35,000 the first year of their project and then over 20 years the taxes have gone up in a manageable manner. Great Lakes Cheese built their $86 million dollar plant next to their old plant in Adams. This created jobs, brought new revenue into the community and supported the dairy industry in Northern New York. 

    The Jefferson County Economic Development is responsible for managing the tax incentive tools such as a PILOT. Jefferson County Economic Development staff will work with affected municipalities, such as Jefferson County, a local school district and other municipalities to negotiate the PILOT with the project developer. The goal of Jefferson County Economic Development is to create a win – win situation for everyone involved. The community wins by supporting the expansion of the existing business and adding jobs or through bringing in a new business creating new jobs, new opportunity and a stronger tax base. 

    PILOTS may be employed to assist with traditional business start-ups such as manufacturing and service industries., as well as to attract renewable energy projects – all of which can bring thousands of dollars to local communities. In Jefferson County PILOTS are not available to small retail business, retailers, or food establishments. PILOTs are a good tool to use to grow our local communities. 

Leadership Honored at 9th Annual 20 Under 40 Awards

The 2019 20 Under 40 Award Recipients pose for a portrait at the luncheon on Friday in Watertown. Julia Hopkins/NNYBusiness

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The Experience Economy: An opportunity for business

Brooke Rouse

Summer always brings people out; locals, snowbirds, visitors. It’s an exciting time to enjoy our great outdoors, art, culture, events and more. Some people have the gear, the know how and the ability to experience a lot of what is available, and others don’t – partially because they can’t access the opportunity. 

    You may find yourself saying, “I want to paddle that river, but I don’t have a boat, or really want to own a boat or have a place to store it. But I’d really like to go out on the Grasse River.” You may hear about the bike paths and ATV trails and say ‘Hey – I want to try that’, or attend an art festival and say, ‘Wow – I would love to try painting again, with a little instruction.’ Business is about finding solutions, the solution here is the ability to create and offer an EXPERIENCE. 

    The Experience Economy is growing by leaps and bounds, year over year, with the most significant growth in the 18-34 year old population. Still 50 percent of this audience is 45 years or older. This is an opportunity. The term Experience Economy was first introduced in 1998 as an argument that “businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product: the “experience” (Pine & Gilmore). 

    Online shopping has become the number one threat and concern to many retail establishments and brick and mortar businesses and attractions. Business owners are constantly seeking ways to stay competitive in the retail market, typically honing in on tremendous customer service that equates to an EXPERIENCE that cannot be found online. Organizations like the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg have increased their focus on experience, not only for a museum tour, but for the unique opportunity to do yoga in the gallery or learn how to paint. Increased awareness of the museum through events and experiences has ensured greater exposure in new markets and a stronger relationship with patrons. 

    St. Lawrence County has welcomed two new ‘Experience Businesses’ for recreation this year. Seaway Outfitters in Ogdensburg rents bikes, SUP boards, kayaks, rollerblades and offers ATV tours. Grasse River Adventures offers fully guided and outfitted hunting, camping, hiking and canoe trips. This type of service allows people to experience things they may not get to otherwise, reduces risk, and allows for adventure without the hassle. These experiences can be booked on the internet, but are offered and experienced here, on the ground by local businesses. 

    Experience comes from and is shared by passion. Allow yourself to pursue local experiences…if there is not a business offering it, consider creating one or recruiting a friend of family member to do it. Business development assistance is available by local Chambers and Small Business Development Centers. 

    As the Tourism Promotion Agent for St. Lawrence County, we are constantly marketing (and bragging) about our tremendous opportunities to discover things here that even locals don’t know about. We are always seeking more opportunities to refer a business to make the experience happen for visitors and residents. 

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CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/NNY MAGAZINES
Tucker family is he heart and soul of of the Tucker Black Angus Ranch, back, from left, Hunter, Kelly, and Justin, front from left, Addie Dayton and Carson.

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY BASSMASTERS

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CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/NNY MAGAZINES
The St. Lawrence Centre’s new Sports Complex is seamlessly attached to the mall, and provides a year-round safe and fun environment for a wide array of activities.

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Photo provided by SUNY CANTON

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