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Competitive housing market to boost Land Bank properties

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon The sale of this Land Bank property, located at 9562 Route 60 in the town of Pomfret, is currently on hold due to its state of disrepair.

Thanks to a shrinking market and higher demand, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation has had very little trouble selling its properties to new owners.

On Wednesday at the Fredonia Technology Incubator, members of the Land Bank’s board of directors gathered for their monthly meeting. There, Executive Director Gina Paradis shared the news that five properties had been sold since the last board meeting in September: 24 Smith St. in Brocton, 13 Pearl St. in Forestville, 53 Arden Ave. in Jamestown, 239 Connecticut Ave. in Jamestown and 12 18th St. in Jamestown. Importantly, Paradis noted, all five properties will be owner occupied rather than rental properties. The sale is pending on an additional property in Jamestown, and another property on Middle Road was recently donated to the Land Bank, Paradis added.

She noted that one of the Land Bank’s acquisitions, 9562 Route 60 in Pomfret, is currently “on hold” due to its state of disrepair. The property, an older home with a large barn located across the street from the Laona Playground, is in need of extensive roof repairs, a new septic tank and possibly a new well, as the existing one may be dry. “It’s got great bones, but it’s in bad shape,” noted Mark Geise, CEO of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency. The property is currently listed for sale on the Land Bank’s website, chqlandbank.org, for $19,800.

Board member Hugh Butler inquired about the role that local real estate companies and realtors play in the sale of Land Bank properties. Paradis explained that the properties ready for sale are listed by the Land Bank’s broker, and local realtors from different agencies can show them any time. “This gives us more opportunities to sell the properties while saving me a lot of time and travel,” Paradis noted.

Geise added that unlike typical property sales, realtors do not receive a percentage of the sale price; rather, realtors receive a flat commission of $1,000 per property.

Paradis explained, “We are currently offering our properties at 60% of the as-is appraisal, but the value is really going down.” She suggested increasing the asking price to 70 or 75% of the as-is appraisal. “Because of the shrinking housing market, these properties will still be in demand, but we have to bump up our sales revenue if we’re going to be sustainable,” she said.

She noted that many of the Land Bank’s properties are appraised for under $10,000, and some sell for as little as $3,000. The cost of cleaning out a home and preparing it for sale can be as much as $2,200; along with the $1,000 realtor’s commission, properties can and have sold at a loss, she explained.

“If it’s really competitive, people are giving us our asking price or more,” Geise pointed out. “If you ask more, you’ll get more, especially with the shrinking market and higher demand.”

Board Chair Jim Caflisch advised Paradis to consult with the Land Bank’s legal team to determine if a resolution is needed to increase the sale price from 60 to 75% of the as-is appraisal. The board will take up the matter again during its December meeting in Jamestown.

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