News & Event
By THOMAS V. WARD, Valley Breeze Publisher
CUMBERLAND – It was a solid summer for home sales, say local real estate agents, with many buyers of smaller homes getting into bidding wars and paying higher than asking prices.
But for those thinking of selling their home into this “seller’s market,” they shouldn’t get too excited, say agents. Prices are merely firming up – finally. The go-go days of a decade ago are not coming back, as lenders are more cautious today. Also, the latest year-over-year sales comparisons by the R.I. Association of Realtors back the assertion that home values are improving, but not skyrocketing.
Here are some median home price comparisons for northern Rhode Island, courtesy of the R.I Association of Realtors, for the second quarter, which ended June 30, vs. June 30, 2016:
• Lincoln: +10.9 percent
• Cumberland: -6.5 percent
• Woonsocket: +13.6 percent
• North Smithfield: -2.4 percent
• Pawtucket: +13.1 percent
• North Providence: +5.1 percent
• Smithfield: +12 percent
• Scituate: +37.4 percent
• Glocester: +7.9 percent
• Foster: -2.4 percent.
(Median price changes tend to be volatile, and more accurately reflect a trend when measured over longer periods of time. A few very high priced – or very low priced – homes may throw averages off.)
“You may offer over (the) asking price,” says Brendan Duckworth, a Realtor with the Keller-Williams office in Cumberland, “but at the end of the day, it must appraise for what the lender feels is a fair price.” In other words, if a buyer bids too high, the bank or credit union may not be willing to provide the mortgage. “Buyers might be happy to pay, but bankers won’t lend the difference,” says Duckworth.
“Banks are paying more attention this time,” echoes Scott McGee, a Realtor and associate with RE/MAX Properties in Smithfield.
So where is the strength in the market? Local agents agree, it’s in the smaller homes that are drawing out first-time buyers. Young buyers were “nervous before,” says McGee, but are finally arriving, attracted by continued low mortgage rates. “The best offers are coming in the low-price to $350,000 market,” says McGee. “A few appraisals have been shot down by $20,000 to $24,000, especially in condos,” he says. “Pricing a corner (condominium) unit too aggressively doesn’t work with the banks,” says McGee. “It (the corner) might be worth $8,000 more, but not $20,000.”
Last week, the Rhode Island Association of Realtors announced that median home prices, year-over-year for August, were up 6.1 percent – to $260,000 on average – but the inventory of homes was down to only 4.2 months. (A balanced market has a six-month supply of homes.) This shortfall has more buyers looking at fewer homes and pushing prices up.
“While sales activity has been up and down following last year’s record-breaking year, prices have been consistently on the rise. The year-over-year median sales price has risen every month since February, hitting levels that we haven’t seen since 2007,” said Brenda L. Marchwicki, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors in a press release.
Duckworth tells of the time last spring when he sold a small Cumberland Hill home. As he was picking up his sign, a neighbor asked how much the home had sold for. Learning the price – and that it sold for $11,000 above asking price – the surprised homeowner put his own home on the market and sold it soon after.
“It has been a strong summer,” says Duckworth.
Young buyers are much different today than in the past. Joe Luca is president-elect of the R.I. Association of Realtors, with RE/MAX Preferred in North Providence. He’s also a Cumberland resident. Says Luca, “The number one thing young millennials, age 24 to 35, are looking for is a move-in ready home. They want to walk in, drop the luggage, and start living.” Generally, he says, “they are fiscally wise, and both work.” They have no time or inclination to tackle home improvements, he said. “They would rather just move in and create memories,” says Luca.
Another thing different than in the past, says McGee, is that he is noting a much stronger move to home rentals by young people. “Investors are buying good homes now, with cash,” says McGee. “Many young people today have a low desire to own a home. They want a rental that’s move-in ready, and prefer dinner and drinks over a mortgage.”
Duckworth agrees. “There will always be buyers,” he says, “but many young people are beginning to rent homes.” He adds, “People move and change jobs more today, too. As renters, they can easily leave.”
Carol LaMontagne, broker/owner of LaMontagne Real Estate in Lincoln, reports smaller, lower priced homes are appreciating the fastest.
“There is a definite shortage in Lincoln” of smaller homes, she says, and “there were a few bidding wars when prices were too low.” She notes that “the $400,000 to $600,000 area is a nice price range” across the area, and prices, while not escalating, are more firm today. With homes valued at more than $500,000, “there are no bidding wars, though the market is solid,” LaMontagne reports.
LaMontagne is happy to see there are finally more buyers around today. “I saw a listing in Central Falls for $280,000 the other day. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve seen that?” she asked. “There were a lot of years of bad stuff,” she said, “but now I’m seeing Mass. plates coming back in.” In past strong housing markets, Bay State buyers forced out of suburban Boston by high prices have come to Rhode Island, willing to endure longer commutes for more affordable homes. LaMontagne now thinks it’s happening again.
So why are prices firming for smaller homes? First, there is a shortage of those homes for sale, according to Realtors. Second, there is pent-up demand from young adults who delayed ownership after the recession. Third, there is little home construction going on, and many owners of smaller homes don’t want to move. Finally, there are also baby boomers, older adults downsizing and competing with millennials for smaller homes.
LaMontagne agrees with McGee on condominium prices. The above-asking-price offers generally do not apply to condominiums. LaMontagne reports multi-family home prices have been strong, however.
How to sell
So what should a homeowner do when thinking about selling? On that, all four pros agree: Contact a real estate agent and have them stop in for a market analysis, even if it’s months before you plan on putting your home on the market. Get an idea of a fair – and not inflated – value.
“Talk to a Realtor now, and they will tell you what to do to prepare for a sale,” says Luca. “Cull out the trinkets, the ‘tchotchkes.’ Do the basic landscaping a homeowner can do so the house looks good to those driving by. It takes time, so get started.”
McGee agrees, and adds, “de-clutter your home, throw stuff out. Make it easy for visitors to move around. What is selling now are open concepts, hardwood floors and granite countertops.”
LaMontagne says your home needs to be “presentation ready.”
“Today’s sellers are competing against newer homes, and buyers are very busy. They don’t want to move in and be faced with a lot of work,” she said.
Claims Duckworth, “People will pay a premium for a house that’s already fixed up. There is no bad time for a Realtor to give owners a market analysis. Owners just need to get some ideas, set a game plan, and get to work.”
Adds McGee, “There is no slow time in home sales, but it does get a bit less busy between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.”
All agree, there’s no need for a seller to wait until next spring. The buyers are out there today.
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
June 19, 2018
A growing number of developers believe wellness home features are a big pull for buyers. The wellness real estate boom first sought to make office environments healthier, and now it is focusing more on the residential market, according to a new report released by the Global Wellness Institute.
Homes that are designed for wellness usually focus on energy efficiency and sustainable construction first, and then look at wellness programs within the community. Indoor components that can make a home healthier may include natural lighting, air quality, proximity to green spaces, exercise facilities, and nontoxic paints and finishes.
Wellness real estate has grown to a $134 billion global industry, according to researchers at the Global Wellness Institute. The number of wellness-oriented residential, mixed use, and commercial properties has risen 6.4 percent annually since 2015. The Global Wellness Institute predicts that wellness-oriented real estate will continue to grow at that pace through 2022 and reach $180 billion by then. Globally, the U.S. leads the market share in wellness real estate developments.
“We’re becoming more unhealthy as we live longer,” Ophelia Yeung, a senior research fellow at the Global Wellness Institute, told Mansion Global. That has led more people to ask themselves “why they’ve invested their life savings in a home that is not keeping them well.”
Prospective owners may be willing to pay a premium for a healthier home or community. Home buyers may be willing to pay 10 to 25 percent premiums for homes in wellness developments at the middle and upper end of the market, according to the Global Wellness Institute’s report.
“There is a recognition that building for human health is going to be the core [value]” in the real estate market going forward, Yeung says. “When you look at it from that perspective, it’s a whole lot bigger than the luxury apartment with the spa, the gym, the swimming pool.”
At some high-end developments, staff are assessing the homeowner’s health and wellness as soon as they move in, Mansion Global reports. For example, condo owners at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., consult with a personal wellness adviser to implement individualized wellness plans, which include on-site physicians, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, behavioral counselors, and spiritual wellness experts.
The wellness movement seems to be taking root more in the high-end market, but the lower end of real estate will soon catch on too, Kavita Kumari, principal engineer at Cundall, a London-based multidisciplinary engineering consultancy, told Mansion Global. As the products and materials used in making healthier homes grow in appeal, costs will come down, Kumari says. Yeung estimates that in three to five years, the mid-market will catch up with the luxury segment. Broad consumer awareness about healthy homes is “just being awakened,” Yeung says.
Source: “Wellness Real Estate Has Blossomed Into a $134 Billion Industry Worldwide—and It’s Growing Fast,” Mansion Global (June 17, 2018)
Courtesy of REALTOR Magazine
Another indicator, “days on market,” fell by 21 percent in 2017, to 61 days, meaning that houses sold more quickly, on average, in 2017 than they did in 2016.
“The housing market was hot last year,” said association president Joseph Luca. “Our biggest problem was lack of inventory, particularly in the starter home market. It seemed like properties were being sold just as soon as they were listed, which made it extremely tough for buyers, particularly in some areas more than others.”
Communities with “days on market” below the state average of 61 included Burrillville (53); Central Falls (60); Coventry (54); Cranston (48); Cumberland (45); East Providence (49); East Side of Providence (49); Glocester (56); Johnston (51); North Providence (47); North Smithfield (50); Pawtucket (51); Providence (49); Smithfield (47); Warren (57); Warwick (51); West Warwick (54); and Woonsocket (50).
Some of the state’s most expensive markets had the highest days on market: Block Island (307); Little Compton (155); and Jamestown (135).
Although starter homes, priced well and in good shape, sold most quickly, 2017 was also a notable year for high-end sales. Comedian Jay Leno’s $13.5 million purchase of the Seafair condos on Ocean Avenue in Newport ranked as the state’s top residential sale in 2017.
Another Newport property, Ocean Lawn, at 51 Cliff Ave., which sold for $11,650,000, came in at number two. The historic, 24-room mansion on the Cliff Walk, formerly known as the Firestone estate, was sold to Alexis DeJoria — a professional drag racer and the wife of reality television star Jesse James — and her billionaire father, John Paul DeJoria, the cofounder of the Paul Mitchell hair care products line and the Patron Spirits Co.
Other top sales in 2017 took place in Westerly’s pricey Watch Hill and Weekapaug neighborhoods, Ferry Road in Bristol, Tuckerman Avenue in Middletown and East Shore Road in Jamestown. The highest sales price ever achieved for a Rhode Island residence is the $17.75-million purchase in April 2013 of Taylor Swift’s oceanfront mansion in Watch Hill.
In addition to Seafair, less pricey condos also had a strong sales year in Rhode Island. Condo sales were up by 12 percent in Rhode Island, and the the median condo price rose by 7.6 percent, to $215,000.
Luca said condos were an alternative for many buyers facing fewer options in the single-family market. Also, “less restrictive financing terms and lower price points allowed first-time buyers entry into the market,” he added.
In the state’s smaller, investor-driven multifamily home market, both sales and median price increased by 15 percent in 2017.
On Twitter @ChristineMDunn
Courtesy of Providence Journal
For immediate release: September 18, 2018
Contact: Sarah Dell, 401.871.9048 | email@example.com
Campaign calls on state leaders to invest in more affordable housing funding stream
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (September 18, 2018) – The “Homes RI” campaign was launched today to shine a spotlight on the increased need for Rhode Island to invest in building more affordable homes in cities and towns across the state, and to call on elected officials to pledge their support for more affordable homes.
Home buyers and renters, including low- and middle-income Rhode Islanders, are facing a housing market that simply cannot meet their needs. Soaring costs for homeownership and rent has resulted in both buyers and renters struggling to find any homes that are affordable statewide.
According to HousingWorks RI, in addition to a lack of existing affordable homes, new inventory is not being built to meet the state’s needs. Just 1,226 building permits were issued in Rhode Island in 2016, with only 25% of those for multi-family units.
The “Homes RI” campaign is a joint effort of United Way of Rhode Island and housing and non-profit organizations, including: Housing Network of Rhode Island, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rhode Island, HousingWorks RI, Neighbors 4 Revitalization at the CYC, Rhode Island Community Action Association, R.I. Center for Justice, R.I. Homeless Advocacy Project, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition, and Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless.
“A safe and affordable home is one of the most basic needs we have, and it’s evident that too many Rhode Islanders are struggling to find one. So far in 2018, our 2-1-1 call center has received nearly 100,000 requests for housing-related help.” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island. “The demand for homes that are affordable in Rhode Island has never been more clear. We must take action.”
In 2016, the Question 7 ‘Housing Opportunity’ bond was passed by voters to provide $50 million for the construction and rehabilitation of more than 800 affordable homeownership and rental housing units across Rhode Island, and to help cities and towns revitalize blighted and foreclosed properties. The bond was estimated to create 1,700 good paying jobs for the state’s building and construction workers, to help local employers attract and retain a strong workforce, and to leverage $160 million in federal and private investment in local communities.
Even with this progress, Rhode Island falls short in comparison to its neighbors, with Massachusetts investing $100 per capita in affordable housing and Connecticut investing $85 per capital in FY2017. Without a consistent funding stream, Rhode Island only invests $5 per capita toward housing. The Homes RI campaign urges greater investment in housing at the state level — an investment that is urgent for Rhode Island families and for a healthy economy.
“Housing that is affordable and safe is critical for all Rhode Islanders. Without it, our children’s education, our seniors’ health, and maintaining our workforce are all at risk,” said Brenda Clement, Director of HousingWorks RI. “The path to economic opportunity begins at your front door.”
The Homes RI campaign will highlight case studies of affordable housing in communities across the state, and will work to build support for greater investment in housing.
For more information on the ‘Homes RI’ campaign, visit www.homesri.org
By JACQUELYN MOOREHEAD, Valley Breeze Contributing Writer
CENTRAL FALLS – Carmen Catalan says she couldn’t be happier to be home for the holidays this year. She and her family settled into a newly renovated affordable housing unit at 39-41 Knight St. in Central Falls on Dec. 1.
During a Nov. 27 ribbon-cutting ceremony with more than 100 people in attendance, Catalan shed tears of happiness as she stood in her new kitchen, surrounded by family, friends and local officials.
Struggling to put into words how happy she was, Catalan pointed to the front bay window as the spot where she plans to put her Christmas tree.
“This unit is beautiful. I am very happy and feel excited about moving into our new home,” she said. “I feel that making this move is going to be helpful to my family because it is going to be affordable for my family. Having opportunities like affordable housing is needed for all families.”
The building is part of the nonprofit Pawtucket Central Falls (PCF) Development Corporation’s investment of $11 million in affordable housing in Pawtucket and Central Falls. First to be completed, the Knight Street home is part of a 46-unit Branch Blackstone Development. Scattered throughout Pawtucket and Central Falls, the project is made up of six sites, which with 29 homes, and 17 apartments.
Two othr recipient families at the Knight Street building did not to attend the ceremony, but Linda Weisinger, PCF Development Corporation’s executive director, spoke about their sentiments, saying both are grateful for the opportunity to have affordable housing.
“It takes more than housing to build and sustain strong communities,” Weisinger said. “Today we celebrate the three families who will make this their home. The families will move in and celebrate the holidays in their new home.”
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebian said PCF Development’s effort will help revitalize the city, and welcomed the new families home.
“I welcome the families to our communities and wish them a happy holiday in their new homes,” he said.
Though unable to attend, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said in a statement he considers PCF Development a “trusted partner.”
“The transformation of 39 Knight St. is yet another demonstration of the work that we can accomplish together, creating opportunities for families to live in beautiful apartments that help revitalize our city,” he said.
Catalan’s first-floor home has refurbished wooden floors and new carpeting. All the fixtures are new and designed to complement each other, from the dark wooden cabinets in the kitchen to the shiny white tile in the bathroom. The attention to detail shone through, making the apartment and home appear brand new.
Emphasizing the affordability factor, Weisinger said renters at 39-41 Knight St. pay $776 in rent a month, substantially less than the average $983 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Central Falls. She said 75 percent of Central Falls residents are renters, and 60 percent are “cost-burdened.”
Rhode Island Housing Executive Director Barbara Fields said creating new homes is the best way to revitalize the community, because new homes mean new business and new jobs.
“Each investment leverages additional investment,” she said.
Fields said the building is symbolic of how Rhode Island Housing is putting federal low-income housing tax credit to work.
Additional buildings are located on Branch Street, East Street, Japonica Street, Middle Street, John Street and Woodbine Street in Pawtucket, scheduled for completion in 2018. Applications for leasing the remaining homes are still available through PCF Development and Maloney Properties.
Funding for Branch Blackstone Development comes from the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Housing Ministries of New England, LISC Rhode Island, National Equity Fund, Pawtucket Credit Union, Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, Rhode Island Housing and TD Bank.
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
Saturday, November 10, 2018
GoLocalProv Business Team
Joe Garlick, executive director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley in Woonsocket, is the recipient of this year’s $50,000 Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Rhode Island Foundation.
“It is truly amazing to be recognized for work you love and believe in. I consider myself lucky to be part of Rhode Island’s network of nonprofit community development corporations who work diligently to make sure our neighbors have homes they can afford in neighborhoods filled with opportunity. I’d also like to acknowledge my staff who work as hard as I do to fulfill our community mission,” said Garlick.
With the award, Garlick received $50,000 in recognition of his commitment to revitalizing urban neighborhoods. There are no restrictions on the use of the money.
“Joe’s tireless dedication to improving the community around him is an inspiring example for others to follow. Our family takes great pride in honoring him for his drive and his accomplishments,” said Paula McNamara, daughter of Terrence and Suzanne Murray, who along with her family established the Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment at the Foundation last year.
This is just the second time the Murray Family Prize has been awarded.
Garlick has been NWBRV’s executive director since 1994.
During his tenure, NWBRV has developed $18 million of single family housing, $98 million of rental housing and 90,000 square feet of commercial space.
Among the projects Garlick has led are the creation of more than 100 affordable apartments in the Constitution Hill neighborhood of Woonsocket, the construction of 80 affordable apartments for seniors at The Meadows in North Smithfield and the conversion of the former Stillwater Mill in Burrillville into 47 affordable rental units at Clocktower Apartments in Burrillville.
By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Managing Editor
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