By Janet Besheer
As we herald in 2017, I am taking a moment to reflect on 2016 and the many changes that occurred in our region.
It was the year of “moving up the Northway.” New construction projects began, including new or improved hotels/motels, contract on upgrading Northway Exit 17, upgrading at the outlets in Queensbury, new apartments in downtown Glens Falls and an uptick in sales throughout Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga Counties. So what lies ahead?
A month ago, the report came out that Glens Falls is on the top of the lists of best places to live in the U.S. Glens Falls has been on the top of lists for upcoming cities for years. 2017 could be the year that the promise of a Glens Falls “Renaissance” will come to fruition.
Speaking directly to real estate trends to watch for the Greater Capital Region in 2017, there are three key areas Equitas Realty is focused on: Available inventory on the market vs. median home price movement; the escalating impact of technological change on both the consumer and the brokerage business; and the continuing post-recession impact of the Millennials on both the rental and home sales sides of the market.
Year-to-year, inventory in our marketplace was down 22 percent in 2016, but demand was strong, up nearly 4 percent. Normally low inventory facing strong demand would suggest escalating median home prices. However, this has not been the case, with the median home price in our area growing 2.9 percent well below the national average. We expect this anomalous condition to persist.
It is really a great time for buyers to jump into the market, in spite of potential increase in mortgage rates expected over the year. We see 2017 as still affording home owners a lower cost of ownership, via low mortgage rates, than was available in 1980. But that affordability could be significantly reduced by the end of the year. We have to wait and see how the new administration’s policies and the Federal Reserve play together.
Technology will continue to drive significant change in the way the real estate business is transacted. Consumers have come to enjoy the freedom and power to search for real estate online. As a result, Realtors are dealing with a much more educated consumer, which means that the value equation in the industry for brokerages is changing.
At Equitas Realty we focus on making sure that our agents are educated on the market data that can significantly impact the equity formula for buyers and sellers. We don’t just view ourselves as agents to the transaction anymore. We view ourselves as consultative service providers offering our clients value that isn’t available on the online portals.
It seems Millennials are moving out of their parent’s basement in greater numbers now. The National Association of Realtor’s data predicts that 52 percent of 2017 sales will be to new home buyers, and that 62 percent of that pool will be Millennials. Simultaneously, we see a lower average age nationally for real estate agents, down from 59 to 52 in the last 5 years. We expect that Realtor age trend to continue downward as Millennial online-driven consumers increase, and so we have built our business model to support the needs of younger more tech-savvy Realtors coming into the industry.
Seven years post-recession, things are still looking good. As one of the largest brokerages in the Greater Capital Region, we have just finished our best year ever and expect 2017 to continue that trend. The first year after any election always has its uncertainties, but given the current continued economic growth in the country and region, we see the likelihood of clear skies ahead.