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How COVID has Impacted 2020 Tri-County Real Estate Sales

Lance Evans

The first six months of 2020 have been an up and down roller coaster for real estate.  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. This lead to optimism that 2020 would also be a good year.  

     In 2019, tri-county property sales totaled more than $370 million with residential real estate sales topping $335 million. In terms of units sold, residential real estate (single family homes and condominiums) makes up eighty to eighty-five percent of real estate activity for Realtors in the tri-county area.  

    The first quarter of 2020 was strong with overall sales up 7.6 percent for members of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and more than 31 percent for members sold by St. Lawrence County Realtors.  Similarly, residential sales were up 12.7 percent for the Jefferson-Lewis Realtors and about 30 percent for St. Lawrence County members.  

    With the mandatory shutdown of the industry in mid-March, real estate came almost to a halt.  In early April, real estate professionals were allowed to start limited activity including virtual showings and remote transactions.   In person meetings, including showings and open houses, were prohibited.  This severely limited how real estate could be done in the state and area.    

    One thing to keep in mind is that after a purchase contract is signed, the average length of time until the sale closes in New York State is normally sixty – ninety days.   This means that a number of the second quarter closed sales were from contracts signed in the first quarter.   

    Until a property closes, it is considered “under contract” or pending.  While time to closing is not tracked, the “days on the market,” or DOM, (the number of days from when a listing contract is signed until the purchase offer has been accepted by both parties) is noted.  

    During the second quarter (April 1 – June 30), members of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors sold 15 percent fewer properties overall compared to 2019 and residential sales were down almost 20 percent. For the first six months, sales of all properties are down about 6% and residential sales are down about 7 percent. While the median price of properties dipped for the first six months, the DOM dropped by more than three weeks for all properties and two weeks for residential sales.  

    The story was similar with members of the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors.   After the first quarter surge of more than 30 percent for all property sales, the second quarter dipped by about 27 percent to bring sales down by six percent for the period of January -June.   The median price went down also and DOM rose slightly.  

    Residential sales for St. Lawrence County members also dipped in the second quarter by 33 percent after being up in the first quarter by 30 percent. Overall, residential sales are down almost 12 percent compared with 2019.   The median price is down slightly and DOM is up about three weeks.  

    Real estate has picked up since our area entered phase two of reopening in late May.   In June and July about 220 residential properties listed by St. Lawrence County Realtors went under contract compared to 198 for the same period in 2019.   Jefferson-Lewis members have also been busy with about 350 pending listings for June and July compared to the 213 in 2019.  Agents are also reporting more properties being listed and are busy with showings.  

    Another sign of increased activity is that it is taking longer to schedule an appraisal or home inspection after the property goes under contract.   Appraisers work with the lenders to be sure that a property is worth the price in the contract.   Meanwhile, future property owners want to make sure there are no surprises or hidden flaws in the property and employ a home inspector.   Due to the increased activity, both of these professions are in high demand.  

    As of now, our area has survived the COVID pandemic fairly well.   For the most part, our residents have stayed healthy.  If this continues, real estate should be able to recover and the year will finish up strongly.   This will be good for everyone as real estate is one of the prime drivers of our economy. 

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. 

Associations Hold Installations, Award Honors, Raises Money

Lance Evans

In December, the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors hold their annual meetings. Included in these are thanking the present Boards of Directors and committee chairs for their service, recognizing milestone years of membership, electing and installing the officers for the next year, announcing award winners, and raising money for various charities. 

    The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors held their Holiday Gift of Giving dinner on Dec. 5. Outgoing President Alfred Netto was honored for his service leading the association in 2019. In 2020, he will begin a three-year term as director. Leaving the Board is 2014-2015 President Elizabeth Miller after serving in various capacities on the Board of Directors for the past decade. 

    The 2020 president will be Britt Abbey. He was installed by 2019 NYS Association of Realtors (NYSAR) President Moses Seuram. 

    The rest of the officers and directors were sworn in by 2019 NYSAR Secretary-Treasurer David Legaz. They include Desiree Roberts (president-elect), Katherine Dickson (vice president), Mary Adair (treasurer), Nancy Rome (recording secretary), and Daniel Bossuot (corresponding secretary). In addition to Mr. Netto, the other four directors are three-year directors Cindy Moyer and Vickie Staie and one-year directors Michael Hall and Terry O’Brien. Walt Christensen will serve as Jefferson-Lewis’ representative on NYSAR’s Board of Directors along with Mr. Abbey. 

    Two special awards were given out. Al Romano, Community Bank, was recognized as Affiliate of the Year. In the nomination, he was lauded for his professionalism, willingness to assist Realtors and buyers, and community involvement. 

    The Association’s highest honor, Realtor of the Year, was given to Desiree Roberts of Lake Ontario Realty. In addition to her work on the Board of Directors, she was cited for her positive attitude, enthusiasm, and having a passion for real estate. Ms. Roberts, a Top Producer for the past four years, coaches youth sports and chairs several charity events in addition to her real estate work. 

    The evening ended with a silent and live auction conducted by Realtor Tyler McDonald. Overall, the Community Service Fund raised over $4,000 this year for area charities. 

    The next day, the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors held its annual Holiday Lunch and Installation. Sponsored by Seacomm Federal Credit Union, the lunch was attended by Realtors and affiliate members. 

    Richard Wood, the 2019 president, was thanked for his two years as president. He will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as the immediate past president. 

    In 2020, the association will be led by Brittany Matott. She was installed by Jennifer Stevenson, the current NYSAR president-elect. In 2020, Ms. Stevenson will be the president of the state association, the first member of the St. Lawrence County Board to be serve in that capacity. 

    The remainder of the officers and directors on the Board of Directors were sworn in by 2019 NYSAR President Seuram. The officers installed include Wendy Jane Smith (vice president), Doug Hawkins (secretary), and Elizabeth Trego (treasurer). In addition to Mr. Wood, the remainder of the governing board will be, as directors, Gail Abplanalp, Tracy Bernard, and Lucille Kassian, with Debbie Gilson serving as St. Lawrence County’s representative on NYSAR’s Board of Directors with Ms. Matott. 

    For the second year, the association bestowed Affiliate of the Year and Realtor of the Year honors. The 2019 Affiliate of the Year is Randy Deshaies of Elite Home Inspections. He was cited for his knowledge, wit, thoroughness, and positive attitude. Mr. Deshaies supports numerous Realtor related events such as the annual Agent Day and the WCR Top Producer event. 

    The Association’s Realtor of the Year honoree is Joel Howie, owner of JC Howie Appraisals. Mr. Howie’s nominators noted his quiet, efficient, and cheerful manner. While he has served on the association’s Board of Directors for three years, it was also noted that he has been on the Canton Day Care Board as well as other community organizations. He is an owner of Canton Apples, a farm specializing in heirloom and uncommon apple and pear varieties. 

    Over $3,700 was raised for St. Lawrence County food pantries during an auction led by Scott Boyer. 

    The Women’s Council of Realtors Tri-County Network elected its 2020 officers recently. Linda Fields will serve as president. Rounding out the leadership team will be Amanda Mattimore (president-elect), Mary Adair (treasurer), Jennifer Flynn (membership director) and Lisa L’Huillier (rogram director). 

Property Mixed For First Six Months of 2019

Lance Evans

The first six months of 2019 have seen mixed results in terms of real estate sales in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. Overall, 2019 single family home sales are up slightly in the tri-county area, while days on the market (the time from when the listing contract is signed until the purchase offer is signed) declined when compared to January to June 2018. Depending on the location the median price for a home either stayed relatively flat or rose. It should be noted that the “median price” is the middle point for real estate prices. It is not the same as the average price. The median price is the price in the very middle of a data set, with exactly half of the houses priced for less and half priced for more. 

    Sales of other types of property (commercial, land, and multi-family) in the tri-county area declined year over year. Again depending on the county, the price and the days on the market varied. 

    Looking at Jefferson County, sales of all property and single-family homes rose slightly with an increase of 1 to 2 percent over the previous year with 582 properties selling of which 489 were single-family. The change in year to year days on the market was flat with the number for all property up a day to 127 and down a day for single-family home sales to 107. The biggest change was median price which rose 5.4 percent to $128,000 for all property types and 8 percent to $140,500 for single family units. 

    Lewis County was a different story with declines seen in the units sold and a rise in the days on the market for all property and for single-family homes. Property sales for all types dropped 26 units to 105 and days on the market increased to 214, up over a month from 2018. The price stayed about the same, declining 1 percent to a median of $90,000. The number for single-family homes were similar with a drop of 23 units year over year, a decline of about 1 percent in median price to $110,000. There was a seven day increase to time on the market to 146 days. 

    The market was mixed in St. Lawrence County. The overall number of units sold declined by over 3 percent to 334, while the median sale price also went down by about 6 percent to $80,000. A bright spot in property sales was the thirty-four day drop in time on the market to 194 days. By contrast, single family home sales increased by 9 percent to 313 units. Similar to all property sales, the price declined, however it was only a 2 percent decline to $90,000. Days on the market also fell by over a month to 184 days. 

    These figures are in line with New York State data which is similarly mixed. Statewide, the median price of single family homes increased 5.8 percent over the period in 2018. Days on the market dropped 3.7 percent and the number of units sold decreased 5.2 percent. 

    The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes that, through May, sales for the year are down about 1.1 percent while the median price increased 4.8 percent and days on the market were flat. Narrowing it to the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont), NAR said that this region experienced the biggest increase in sales. 

    What does this mean to buyers and sellers in our area? Overall, the tri-county market is healthy through the first six months. If the trend continues, housing sales will be equal to last year with modest increases in price and sales happening a little faster. With interest rates still relatively low, it may be a great time to buy. 

    One word of caution, in certain areas within the tri-county region, sales, median price, and/or days on the market may vary greatly from the above figures. Similarly, certain types of property or price ranges may also experience stronger or weaker sales. Your best source of information is a Realtor. He or she can give you a much more focused report that will fit your needs and desires. 

Realtor Association Awards, Inaugurate Boards of Directors

Lance Evans

December marks the end of the elected year for both the St. Lawrence County and the Jefferson-Lewis Boards of Realtors.  Both held their annual meetings which included the election and inauguration of new officers and directors and honoring those departing the Board of Directors. It also is the time of year that various awards are given and funds are raised for various community organizations.

St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors

    The St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors marked the end of the year with a lunch at the Gran View Restaurant in Ogdensburg on Dec. 14.  The occasion included awarding the Association’s first ever Realtor of the Year and Affiliate of the Year, a very successful auction conducted by Scott Boyer with proceeds going to area Neighborhood Centers, as well as inaugurating the 2019 Board of Directors.

    The Affiliate of the Year award is given to a non-Realtor member or member company.  Affiliates include bankers, lenders, home inspectors, media companies, etc. who have an interest in the real estate industry, but are not licensed to sell or appraise real estate. The award was given to Julie Derrigo-Inschert of Fairport Mortgage. Julie, a member for almost 30 years, was praised as having a high degree of knowledge about the industry, treating real estate buyers as VIPS, and having a level of commitment, professionalism, and compassion that makes her an asset to her profession.

    St. Lawrence County’s Realtor of the Year award is given to a realtor member (broker, appraiser, associate broker, or salesperson) who has made contributions to the realtor profession and their community.  This inaugural award was given to Jennifer Stevenson, broker-owner of Blue Heron Realty in Ogdensburg.  A member since 1990, Jennifer has held many offices locally including several terms as president. She served as the Adirondack Region Vice President for the NYS Association of Realtors (NYSAR) from 2009-2010, the 2018 NYSAR Secretary-Treasurer, and will be NYSAR’s President-Elect in 2019.  Jennifer also serves on the Ogdensburg City Council and has been president of her Rotary Club, president of Ogdensburg’s Chamber of Commerce, and is active in the SPCA.

    Jennifer Stevenson, in her capacity as a NYSAR Officer, also oversaw the inauguration of the 2019 Board of Directors. The 2019 President will be Richard J. Wood.  The rest of the team will be Brittany Matott (vice president), Elizabeth Trego (treasurer), Doug Hawkins (secretary), Debbie Gilson (immediate past president), Wendy Smith (state director), and three-year directors, Gail Abplanalp, Tracy Bernard, and Joel Howie.  Also recognized during the lunch was Amanda Kingsbury who served as Treasurer in 2017 and 2018.

Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors

    The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors held its holiday dinner and inauguration on the evening of Dec. 13 at Watertown’s Hilton Garden Inn. Music for the evening was provided by Chuck Ruggiero.  During the dinner, the departing members of the Board of Directors were recognized, the 2019 Board of Directors were installed by NYSAR Central Region VP Don Radke, an Affiliate of the Year was named, and an auction was held which benefitted several charities including the Salvation Army, Watertown Urban Mission and Hospice.

    Northern Credit Union was recognized as the 2018 Affiliate of the Year.  Some of the reasons cited were their support for programs put on by the Realtor Association and the Women’s Council of Realtors Network, as well as their employees’ professionalism, knowledge, responsiveness, and enthusiasm.

    The Jefferson-Lewis Board will be led by Alfred Netto as 2019 President.  He will be assisted by Britt Abbey (president-Elect), Katharine Dickson (vice president), Mary Adair (treasurer), Nancy Rome (recording secretary), and Desiree Roberts (corresponding secretary). Rounding out the leadership team will be three-year directors Elizabeth Miller, Cindy Moyer, and Vickie Staie as well as one-year directors Daniel Bossuot and Michael Hall and State Director Walter Christensen.  Honored for their service as they departed the Board were Lisa Lowe (corresponding secretary) and Randy Raso (three-year director).

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.

Why Homeownership Matters

Lance Evans

June was National Homeownership Month which recognizes the value of homeownership and its positive impact on families, communities and the nation’s economy.   An annual celebration, it allows a time to celebrate and promote the American Dream of homeownership and identify the many benefits of owning that roof over your head.

                “Most consumers know that homeownership is among the most sound investments an individual can make to begin building their personal wealth. However, owning a home is not just in the best interest of the homeowner. Homeownership provides social stability, builds communities and is a driving force for the national economy,” said Richard J. Wood, St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors president.

                Surveys back this up.   Recently, the National Association of Realtors released its Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey for the second quarter.  It showed that a high number of Americans, 75 percent, believe that now is a good time to sell a house, while 68 percent think it is a good time to buy.   The survey also found that a majority of consumers believe prices have and will continue to increase and that homeownership strengthens our nation’s communities.   In fact, two-thirds of consumers said that homeownership strengthened communities a great deal. Only 10 percent responded “not really.”

                Below are some of the benefits of reaching the American Dream:

  • Social stability: Improved educational performance, lower crime rates and improved health are a few social benefits linked to homeownership. “Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth, which opens doors to more engagement in communities through volunteer work, involvement in social activities and electoral participation,” observed Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors President Vickie Staie.
  • Strong communities: Homeowners tend to stay in their homes longer than renters, dedicate more money to improve their home and are more engaged in enhancing their community. Mr. Wood added that “homeowners are often more invested in their home and their surroundings, which leads to stronger neighborhoods and communities and increased interaction between neighbors.”
  • Economic force: Being a homeowner also has a positive local and national economic impact. That is because homeownership creates jobs through remodeling, landscaping, lawn service, furniture and appliances, home improvement and real estate services. When a home is sold in the United States, the income generated from real estate-related industries is over $20,000 and additional expenditures on consumer items is about $4,500, which aids the economy.
  • Brings families together: Along with being more involved in their communities, homeowners are often active and connected to their own families. Family dinners and game nights at home could mean a more-connected, happier family.

                Ms. Staie remarked that “home is where people make memories and feel comfortable and secure.  Celebrating homeownership is an opportunity to reiterate that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream and enjoy the many benefits that come along with it.”

                For more information about buying or selling a home, visit www.slcmls.com (St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors) or www.nnymls.com (Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors).   Both list the member Realtors in our area.


                The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors recently launched a new version of its public website.   This is the first major overhaul in several years and brings new functionality to the search for a property in our area including the ability to search listings by a variety of methods including map tools, filtering by geography and features, searching by listing agent, etc.   Users can also access the websites of area school districts, read real estate news, and find many helpful links. 

                St. Lawrence County Board of Realtor members have a new tool to assist them in working with clients.   The Association recently signed on with ZipForms, a provider of digital real estate forms.   ZipForms allow agents to seamlessly integrate and manage all the documents needed for a transaction from listing to the closing.   These can be shared with clients, customers, other real estate professionals, loan officers, and attorneys.   The documents can be signed electronically, also. 

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.

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).

The Difference Between Appraisals & Assessments

Lance Evans

BY: Lance Evans

In August, I wrote about assessments.  You may recall that assessments are opinions of value.  An assessor looks at all of the properties in a municipality and comes up with general values that are a component in computing the real property tax. While properties are treated similarly, assessments allow for differences like square footage, lot size, and general condition and upkeep. These variations can affect the assessment.

    How does this differ from how an appraiser works and how does an appraisal end up affecting the price paid for a property?

    Similar to an assessment, an appraisal is an opinion of value.  However, instead of looking at many properties within a jurisdiction, appraisers look at one property (subject property) and then find comparable sales (“comps”) that are like the subject property.  Ideally, comps are within a few miles and have sold within the past six months.  Like the assessor, an appraiser adjusts for differences in lot size, square footage, heating systems, etc. between the subject property and the comps to come up with a value. There is no set rule for what adjustments must be made. It is up to the appraiser’s judgement.  Adjustments are based on market reactions to amenities, features, or land size of a property.  Unique property types throw a whole other set of variables, so there is not a “cookie cutter” approach. 

    An appraisal usually varies from an assessment for several reasons. First of all, you may recall that the City of Watertown actually assesses at 92% of value. This means that a house that might be worth $100,000 would be assessed at $92,000. Other municipalities use different percentages.

    The other reason that there may be a difference is that appraisers are using data that is short term (6 months or less) and may cross municipal lines.  This means that an appraiser who has a subject property on the edge of a municipality might be using comps from a nearby town.  These would not figure into the assessor’s decision making process.

    In the North Country, the “6 month rule” does not always hold. Joel Howie, JC Howie Appraisals in Canton, noted that “One thing I consider in St. Lawrence County is a larger ‘market area’ or neighborhood when looking for comps. I may go outside an individual municipality to a competing neighborhood for comps. Because of the sparse population and diverse housing stock, I also may need to consider sales up to 18-24 months. Also, I may be appraising a modern colonial in Canton and I may need to consider a Potsdam sale in order to find sufficient sales data.”

    As I pointed out last month, an assessor works for a municipality.  Appraisers are generally self-employed and work for a variety of clients including lenders, private companies, and individuals.

    Much of an appraiser’s work is contracted by lenders.  The purpose of the appraisal might be for loan approval for a buyer or when a property owner refinances a mortgage.  The lender is required to use a variety of appraisers on a rotating basis and are not allowed to specify a certain appraiser.  However, the list can be limited based on an appraiser’s certification and approvals.  For instance, an appraiser needs to apply to be Veteran’s Administration (VA) certified.

    So what education is needed for appraisers? Like assessors, appraisers have taken special training to get licensed or certified. In addition to course work, they must work with a licensed or certified appraiser for a period of time.  After being licensed, appraisers take twenty-eight hours of Continuing Education every two years. A portion of this education is in Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

    Property owners can also hire an appraiser.  The owner may want to find out what his or her property is worth prior to selling the property, it may be needed to help settle an estate, or the owner may want to check the worth against an assessment.

    Appraisals are usually effective as of the date of inspection.  Assessments are based on an earlier date usually as of the date the roll was submitted, which depending on that date could be nearly 2 years prior to the current date. In an increasing or decreasing market, assessment and a current appraisal may be quite different.

    So what is the difference between the assessor’s job and that of an appraiser?  Simply put, the assessor looks at the “forest” of properties and the appraiser looks at individual “trees.”

    In my August article, Last month I made an error in my article on assessment. I stated that if the assessment is $10 per thousand dollars then a property assessed at $92,000, the bill would be $92.  It would be $920.