What You Should Know as a Buyer

Lance Evans

When our area entered Phase 2, the real estate market heated up. In some portions of the market, there have been multiple offers and some properties have had offers within a day or two of being put on the market. What do you need to know to be successful when making an offer? 

    First thing to remember is your Realtor is your advisor, but all final decisions are up to you. A Realtor will work with you to help craft an offer, but ultimately you need to know what your top limit for your offer price will be. If you plan on financing, it is a good idea to get pre-approved by your lender. You will also need to decide ahead of time your “musts” for a property and what you would like to have, but can live without (or can add later). 

    Secondly, you will be given a number of forms. Prior to looking at listing, you will be asked to review and sign the NYS Fair Housing Disclosure. If the listing is a residence, the agent will present the NYS Disclosure of Agency Relationships. When you decide to purchase, there will also be forms to fill out and sign. Your agent should review each with you and answer any questions you have. If you do not understand them, you should speak to your legal adviser. It is also a good idea for you to have your attorney review any contracts which should include an attorney review clause. 

    When you make your offer, you should look at how long a property has been on the market, whether the market is a seller’s (demand exceeds supply) or buyer’s market (supply exceeds demand), and how it fits your needs. Part of the offer will be the down payment or earnest money. This can range from as little sd a few hundred dollars to 20% of the price depending on your financing. The amount you put down will tell the seller how serious you are. 

    The purchase offer will also contain contingencies or provisions to be met by buyer and seller. Common ones are a home inspection, financing, appraisal, clear title to the property, and possibly a home sale if you need to sell your property before buying the property. You need to understand each one, as they carry risks and protections. 

    Before making the offer, review what is included and excluded with the property. The seller should have a list of appliances, lights, etc. that the seller is leaving. The description or the seller’s property condition disclosure should also tell you about utilities such as water (public or well), whether it is heated with electricity, gas, or oil, and other items you might need to know (shared driveway, right of ways, etc.). 

    The purchase offer will note a closing date. This is an approximate date and your agent can advise you on a realistic date based on a typical time frame and your financing choice. 

    The above is a bare bones outline for a buyer. You should consult your Realtor and your legal and financial advisors throughout the transaction. They are there to assist you. 

The Womens Council of Realtors Tri-County Network held their annual golf tournament Aug. 7 at Highland Meadows Golf Club. Some of the proceeds benefitted the physical therapy unit at River Hospital in Alexandria Bay. Major sponsors for the tournament were Carthage Savings and Loan, Northern Credit Union, and Watertown Saving Bank. Other sponsors included Community Bank, Farm Credit East, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, Northern Tier Construction, Jennifer Flynn, and Diane Mullen. Holes were sponsored by Appraisals USA, Bennett Realty Group, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services CNY Realty, Richard Champney PC, Citizens Bank of Hammond, Conboy MacKay Bachman Kendall LLP, Gaebel Real Estate, Genesee Regional Bank, Lori Gervera Team of Keller Williams NNY, Heart Homes Real Estate, Hefferon Real Estate, Homes Realty of NNY, LP Thompson Insurance, St. Lawrence River Real Estate, Slye Law Offices PC, and the Weldon and Trimper Law Firm. 

    The tournament, a captain and crew format, had three divisions – men’s, women’s, and mixed. The men’s division was won by Team Casero, the women’s by the Lafargeville Ladies, and the mixed by Just Duckie Cleaning. Prizes were given for the longest drive to Todd Slate (Team Casero) and Gloria Peluso (Bridgeview Real Estate) and for closest to the pin to Roy Matteson (Matteson Property Management) and Autumn Winters (Lafargeville Ladies). 

    The 2021 Tournament will be held on Aug. 6 at Highland Meadows Golf Club. 

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. 

Benefits of Owning Commercial Real Estate

Kiah Surgue

As a business owner, you should be aware of the many advantages to owning the commercial real estate where your business is located.  In order to pursue owning, you have to have a solid financial profile and a clear vision for growth.  Investors are more apt to lend to businesses with value and assets, combined with a low amount of debt compared to owner’s equity.  This is important to ownership and access to capital.  Ultimately this type of business investment can serve as a stable foundation for future commercial success. 

    The interest savings on purchasing versus leasing commercial real estate is huge.  When carrying a mortgage on the property, a portion of each monthly payment goes to principal and a portion goes to interest.  A business owner can use the interest portion as a tax deduction.  So, a property valued at $500,000 with 20 percent down, a 20-year term and an interest rate of 4.5 percent has total payments of $607,000 over the course of 20 years, of which $207,000 goes directly to interest.  Thus, a third of the total payments can be deducted over the term, a major tax bonus.

    Property tax write-offs are another advantage to owning commercial real estate.  When you own property, you are responsible for village, county and school taxes which are deductible expenses that can offset business income and business tax liability.  

    Additionally, depreciation on commercial real estate is a benefit come tax time.  All assets but the land will depreciate in value as soon as they are purchased, including the roof, siding, furnace, sinks, toilets, decking etc.  The IRS allows the depreciation of a residential rental unit over 27.5 years and a commercial building over 39 years.  For example, if you purchase a residential rental for $1 million, the annual depreciation that can be written off is about $36,000. 

    Many other tax deductions are available when owning a business.  Any maintenance or renovations done to the property are deductible, as well as purchases of equipment, furniture, fixtures, and inventory and working capital for common area maintenance charges, insurance, phone, electric, internet, office and supply expenses.

    Some investors purchase commercial real estate as a long term retirement investment to generate a valued asset, knowing that the capital gains tax rate on the sale of a building will generally be lower than the personal tax deduction associated with a traditional IRA.  This is another reason that owning commercial real estate can be favorable.

    Looking way ahead, if you plan to leave the property to a beneficiary such as a spouse, family member, partner etc. and they decide to sell the property, they will only pay taxes on the increased value from the time of the owner’s passing.  This is referred to as a post-sales tax savings and is another benefit to ownership. For example, a business owner purchases a commercial property for $1 million and it appreciates to $4 million over time.  Then the owner passes, the property goes to the beneficiary and the beneficiary sells the property for $5 million; the beneficiary only owes taxes on $1 million. What a tax savings!

    The benefits to owning your commercial property may outweigh leasing or renting a space.  If you have a business that is in a solid financial position, consult with your team of experts such as your business advisor, attorney, accountant and banker to see what your next move should be. 

                The New York State Small Business Development Center at JCC offers free, individual, confidential counseling to new or existing business owners in Jefferson and Lewis counties.  They also offer an entrepreneurial training course with presentations by area professionals in law, marketing, accounting, etc.  For more information, contact 315-782-9262, sbdc@sunyjefferson.edu. St. Lawrence County residents can contact their SBDC at SUNY Canton, 315-386-7312, sbdc@canton.edu. 

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.

Shifting Real Estate

[Read more…]

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.