By Jill Nagy
Area real estate brokers expressed glee recently as they described the current local market, using expressions like “great,” “excellent,” “very, very strong,” “unusually hot,” and “booming,.”
Inventory, especially of houses at the lower end of the price range, is low and a new listing rarely stays on the market for more than a week, they said.
Susan Kassal of All American Properties in Glens Falls, said she showed a townhouse on a Sunday and received three offers for it by the following Monday.
“Literally within minutes of being listed, they are sold,” said Daniel Davies of Davies-Davies & Associates in Queensbury—but admitted that he was exaggerating a bit.
People are attracted by relatively low prices, favorable financing, a stock of historic buildings, and the beauty of the area. Peter Hoffman of Glen Street Associates in Glens Falls, for example, recalled when he was practically laughed out of a local banker’s office when he asked for a $1 million loan. Today, loans of $7 million or more are not unusual. Bankers are more willing to lend because they have seen successful projects, he said.
On the commercial side, many buyers are looking for investment property. With a volatile stock market and low interest rates on savings and bonds, investors see real estate as a stable investment, said Davies.
Another factor driving the market, according to Howard Denison of DeMarsh Realty in Glens Falls, is a large inventory of buildable land. He noted that builders who got burned in the 1980s and 1990s bought a lot of land but were cautious about developing it. “Now,” he said, “They are less cautions.” Forty- to 50-lot subdivisions sell out quickly.
Recent legal developments have put a small damper on the market for commercial real estate, particularly multi-family housing. Davies said the new state landlord-tenant laws will hinder investment and the updating of dilapidated buildings. They cap rent increases and make it more difficult to evict tenants.
The new law extends the option of adopting rent control to communities outside New York City and he expects some of the larger towns in upstate New York to do just that. Federal limits on the deductibility of real estate and local taxes may further discourage buyers and send some investors to lower tax states.
Denison said while inventory is “a little low,” he expects it to pick up in the spring. That is especially true of single-family homes.
Buyers are coming from downstate, some from as far as New York City. As baby boomers downsize, “they buy a little something here and a little something to the south,” Davies said. He also sees people selling their lake homes and buying something in a lower tax area.
When people do downsize, Denison noted, they are often willing to pay a premium for such amenities as fitness centers and fancy kitchens.
“You can’t stay red hot forever,” Denison said, “But as long as interest rates stay low, we will stay strong.”
Mitch Muroff of Muroff Daigle Hospitality Group, a Boston-area company specializing in selling hotels and resort property, noted that at least one part of the market is benefiting from the activity of business in the community. In the Lake George area, some of the hotels have banded together to promote Lake George as a year-round region. He noted that the Lake George-Adirondack area has always been popular, but that market is also growing.
He said as new hotels come into the area, owners of older hotels have to refurbish and renovate. The public demands larger rooms, larger bathrooms, fitness rooms, business centers, and complimentary breakfasts.
Muroff recently brokered the sale of the Black Mountain Lodge in North Creek, near Gore Mountain. There are not nearly enough hotels in the Gore Mountain area, he said.
Mark Levack of Levack Realty named a long list of commercial properties he recently sold or leased in Glens Falls.
“It’s a very nice active market,” he said, “a positively trending market.”
He has also been kept busy renting commercial space and is beginning to branch out to renting space to state government agencies and nonprofit organizations. He noted that a buyer from Brooklyn recently invested $2.8 million in commercial real estate in the Glens Falls area.
Hoffman said he has had a busy summer. Structural work is complete on the century-old former Glens Falls post office building that he rescued from demolition.
“There is so much history in the building … It will be embraced for generations to come,” he said.
People “see the benefits of the northern market,” Hoffman said. Glens Falls is “positioned well,” between Saratoga and Lake George. It has historic buildings at good prices and “super quality” restaurants.
By Jill Nagy