All across the U.S., COVID-19 is having unparalleled and unexpected effects on housing sales. In spite of expectations, sales are booming. Traffic on mobile applications like Zillow and websites like Realtor.com is up by up to 50% in nearly all markets, according to Forbes, and a growing number of Americans are buying their first homes or purchasing more spacious and more expensive ones.
Moreover, one of the healthiest real estate markets right now is right at home in Rochester, NY. “Five of America’s hottest real estate markets are in New England (plus New York State) — Melrose, MA, Portland, ME, Hudson, NH, Worcester, MA, and Rochester, NY — each of which ranked in the top ten across more than three categories including lowest days on market, list-to-sale ratio, or page views per-property,” Forbes writes.
Here is a closer look at the Rochester real estate market now and predictions for what it will look like in the near future.
Pushing Through The Brunt Of The Pandemic
In order to understand the impact of the pandemic on real estate sales or lack thereof, it is important to know how things played out in the thick of things. During the brunt of the pandemic or the statewide lockdowns, realtors temporarily saw fewer listings, according to Rochester First. During March 2020, listings dropped by 50%.
The number of listings quickly rebounded and as early as one month later, in April 2020, when “real estate was considered limited-essential again,” Rochester First continues.
In a surprising twist of fate, some things did not change at all. Andy Kachaylo, President of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors (GRAR), states that demand remained constant or as high as ever, interest rates remained low, and people continued to purchase houses.
Against All Odds, The Rochester Housing Market Continues To Thrive
Data from the National Association of REALTORS reveals that Americans bought 5.34 million existing homes in 2019. How do nationwide sales compare to sales in Rochester? What is the outlook for new home sales and existing home sales in the area?
As Kachaylo suggests, it’s very good. In fact, not only did Rochester steal a spot as one of the top real estate markets in New England, but it also ranks as one of the “the hottest metro areas” to purchase a new home, according to Investor’s Business Daily. These areas include Rochester, NY, Fresno, CA, Bakersfield, CA, Stockton-Lodi, CA, Colorado Springs, CO, Portland, ME, Columbus, OH, Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA, and Allentown-Bethlehem, PA.
Realtor.com data ranked these cities as the hottest metro areas based on the number of property views and the amount of time a particular property spent on the market.
Rochester may also present an advantage by being a small city. Homeowners prefer the relative quiet of Rochester compared to, say, New York City. Rochester is an alternative to living in the middle of nowhere without being too busy.
Important Notes For First-Time Home Buyers
Last year, first-time homebuyers comprised an impressive one-quarter of all homebuyers in Florida. That number is lower in New York State, but — with the impressive Rochester real estate market — it is catching up.
If you plan to count yourself among New York State and/or Rochester’s first-time homebuyers, go into the process with knowledge and insider tips. Consider the following:
Homes are going fast. You need to know your stuff. “RE/MAX experts say some homes in Rochester are spending just a day on the market before being sold,” Rochester First reports. That may seem like a daunting statistic, but it does not have to be. Do research online. Ask friends and family for personal experiences. Attend free seminars for first-time homebuyers. Look for ones sponsored by local not-for-profit organizations to avoid bias from organizations who may have a personal stake in you buying your first home.
Shop around for a mortgage. While interest rates in Rochester are low — very low, according to GRAR’s Kachaylo, it is still wise to shop around to find the best mortgage rate. “The seller should not require that you use a particular mortgage bank,” New York Attorney General Letitia James advises first-time home buyers.
Know how to hold sellers to requested repairs. If sellers agree to complete a particular repair or repairs after the home inspection, do not simply take their word for it. Get the agreement in writing. Make sure to clearly state and itemize requested repairs. In such an agreement, the seller must complete the repairs before the sale can go through. Failing that, ask to enter into a repair escrow agreement for any uncompleted repairs. That way, the seller contributes to an account with the appropriate funds for the repairs. If they complete them, the seller gets the money back. If not, the funds will go toward your closing costs.
Already Own A Home? Here Is What Sellers Should Expect
If you are selling an existing home and are in the market for a new one, things change somewhat.
First, you want to consider the bigger picture. What upgrades can you make around the home that will help make your home more attractive to prospective buyers in Rochester? Improving curb appeal, repainting, or renovating the bathroom and kitchen are the big ones. If you are selling in the next year or next few years but not immediately, consider upgrades that you can enjoy while boosting the value of your home. For example, adding a swimming pool adds 7% to your home’s value.
If you are selling immediately, remember that many homeowners rely on selling their old home in order to pay closing costs for their new one. If that is the case for you, there is some good news. According to Rochester First, NYS homes spend just 85 days on the market, sale prices are up, and real estate agents have discovered ways to show and sell homes quickly while in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
For current and would-be Rochester residents, there is one overwhelming truth: the real estate market is booming and it will continue to thrive in the coming months. Take advantage of the market that is — thankfully — going strong in spite of COVID-19.
There are so many great businesses in the Rochester area. Many of these companies have been struggling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still things that can be done to end the year on a high note and increase productivity, worker happiness, and revenue for the future!
Here are some awesome tips for Roc business owners looking to improve their organization:
Let your employees work remotely
Remote work has become the norm since COVID-19, but there are still plenty of businesses that refuse to accept this new approach. About 60% of remote workers in the survey said that if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate.
As long as your employees are continuing to get all their work done, are effectively communicating, and staying productive, let them work wherever they please! Some people do need an office setting to get things done, so let that be an option, but some people work best from their home, a coffee shop, or anywhere but the office!
Offer the opportunity for travel
Traveling for work can be great for employees to avoid burnout. The change of scenery can be extremely refreshing and will result in employees coming back feeling good and ready to increase their productivity. Approximately 1 billion U.S. passengers fly every year.
Additionally, simply put, people love traveling! If you can afford to send your employees to various new cities to meet with clients, give presentations, or work on special projects — do it! They will be very grateful for this awesome opportunity!
Take the design of your office seriously
If you don’t offer a remote working option, make sure your office isn’t bland, boring, and energy-draining. A plain white office with a few cubicles is not a great work environment. It’s boring and can even be depressing. Instead, get a little creative with your interior design!
Consider adding some nice art pieces. Roughly 94% of survey respondents believe that art makes their workplace more welcoming and that 61% agree it also stimulates creativity.
These tips are great but your business isn’t going to significantly increase its revenue overnight. This is going to take time — so make sure you’re putting the time in! Let your employees have a little more freedom, offer some travel options, and start improving the look and feel of your office. You won’t regret it!
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has severely impacted the way we live. From how we run errands to the way we work and learn, the threat of COVID-19 remains constant. And while the average American life expectancy is 78 years, our current national crisis indicates that if we don’t get things under control, we could experience thousands — if not millions — of lives being cut short.
But aside from the coronavirus’s impact on our survival rates, it’s also had major effects on the way we socialize and have fun. With the continued need to wear masks, practice social distancing, and reduce the inherent risks associated with public places, it’s no wonder that many of us are wondering whether we’ll ever really be permitted to have fun in a worry-free way again. Although Florida attracts more than 100 million visitors each year, the majority of New Yorkers need to stay put (and away from national hot spots) in order to reduce their risks.
With that in mind, you might be stuck in the area for the foreseeable future. And as the seasons change, what exactly can you do for fun? You might be pleasantly surprised with the fall activities that are still going on — with restrictions in place — in the greater Rochester area.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the finances of families everywhere, causing record-setting unemployment rates and the shuttering of many local businesses. Strangely enough, the real estate market in Rochester hasn’t been taking hits like many of the other sectors of the economy. In fact, Rochester real estate is downright hot right now.
Not only did realtor.com rank the Rochester area zip code 14617, which includes West Irondequoit, number three on their list of the 10 hottest zip codes in the United States, but houses across the area are flying off the market almost as soon as they hit it. Buyers have been in a frenzy to snatch up a home in Rochester, with houses getting multiple offers within hours of going on the market. According to Tysharda Thomas, Realtor at New 2 U Homes, homes have been selling for $10,000 to $50,000 above list price.
New Yorkers are no stranger to the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our shoulders. It’s officially been five months since Governor Cuomo enacted the “New York State On Pause” executive order and social distancing guidelines are still in place. As such, many workers are still performing the ins and outs of the daily grind from the comfort — and stress — of their own home.
As we enter the sixth month of quarantine measures, some businesses have allowed employees to reenter the office. Regardless, countless small offices have refused to let their employees bump elbows for the time being. Even though many people have begun to accept the trials and tribulations of remote work, that doesn’t mean that staying focused has become any easier.
Why has it been so hard to stay focused as we continue to work remotely?
In order to stay healthy, adults should try to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. However, that hasn’t been easy to do over the last six months. Due to concerns pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic, gyms and health clubs throughout the New York State are staying closed. But while many of those facilities will eventually reopen, there are two community mainstays that have been forced to shut their doors for good.
The legendary pioneer photography company Kodak in Rochester is developing a fresh new role in another industry. The company is tapping into the $4.2 trillion global wellness industry to produce pharmaceutical ingredients. However, there are developments that could delay the company’s future plans to reinvent itself. Here’s more on how Kodak is making international waves once again.
The weather is finally getting nicer so it’s time to put the video game controller down, gather up the family, and do something fun! Here are some great ways to kill time and have a blast around the great city we call Rochester…
According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), there are approximately 1.5 million deer-related car accidents annually, leading to 175 to 200 fatalities each year. Of course, this number pales in comparison to the number of human pedestrians killed in traffic accidents each year (4,700), but in certain areas of the country, deer collisions are a real threat.
Clearly, the coronavirus has changed the world. There isn’t a person in the United States that has not been drastically affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of people have lost their lives, millions of people have lost their jobs, and virtually every single person is riddled with severe anxiety over the last few months.
Hopefully things are starting to return to at least somewhat normal, especially as phases one through four begin opening. But it’s imperative that every Rochester citizen remains vigilant and focusing on preventing the spread of this deadly virus.
Here are some important aspects to pay attention to as we reach the later months of the COVID-19 pandemic…
There isn’t an individual in the U.S. that hasn’t been affected by the coronavirus in some way or another. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. And literally every single person in the country has been dealing with unprecedented levels of anxiety and fear.
Things are scary. That might be the understatement of 2020 — but they can and will get better. It’s just on us to do everything we can to better ourselves, our communities, and our world.
In Rochester and abroad, it starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
During quarantine, it’s easy to slip into a funk and waste away your day eating junk food, watching 8 hours of Netflix, and including in some other unhealthy habits. Donuts and Netflix every once in a while is not a bad thing — in fact, it’s downright necessary. But you can’t do that too often because your health will be in serious jeopardy. You have to do everything you can to stay healthy so you can fight off any viruses and so you’re in a good mental state to get back to work and start building your future.
Here are some great tips for staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the days, weeks, and months following…
Many years ago, I used to work on the 12th floor of Sibley Tower, offices in a lovely old building with a beautiful view of downtown. I could see McCurdy’s across the street. I could see the Liberty Pole. I could see Luke and Laura and the cast of “General Hospital” when the soap opera was filming in Rochester. (I don’t smoke, but I took a lot of “cigarette breaks” that week so I could sneak downstairs to watch.)
Last week, I spent some time downtown taking pictures of the Spiegeltent as it was being assembled as part of this year’s Fringe Festival coverage.
[this is a link to my blog or I can repost the whole thing on RS. Up to you https://notesfromthefunnyfarm.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/notes-from-the-fringe-2016-the-spiegeltent/]
Just for old time’s sake I went for a walk around the neighborhood where I spent many hours trudging from the parking lot to the office building. Last year, when I was downtown for Fringe, I’d been surprised at how little I recognized just a few blocks from where I worked. I never knew there was a residential neighborhood off Main Street, for example. I guess you only see what you’re looking for, and 20 years ago I was only looking to get in and out of work as quickly as possible.
But today I had time to walk down memory lane.
Standing at the corner of Franklin Street and Liberty Pole Way, I was struck by how different the skyline looks from when I worked downtown. There’s a giant hole where McCurdy’s used to be, and while I’ve driven by many times over the years, it looks particularly different, sadder maybe, when you’re on foot.
Maybe that’s just nostalgia talking. I remember as a kid coming downtown at Christmas to see the window displays at McCurdy’s and Sibley’s, to have breakfast with Santa and walk through the Magic Corridor, finishing off the holiday adventure with a ride on the monorail in Midtown, the Clock of Nations showing off it’s multicolored international scenes on the hour. (The clock is now at the Rochester International Airport, and while there were plans for it to move to the Golisano Children’s Hospital, it’s still at the airport and it seems likely that’s where it’ll stay.)
I remember the gleaming cases of merchandise in Sibleys, the giant clock in the middle of the main floor that provided a common meeting place for friends and family out shopping together.
Unless you experienced it, you can’t imagine how beautiful downtown used to be, family-friendly and bustling with commerce. I’m not that old (although I recently qualified for an AARP membership, which I’ve declined, thank you very much) but I understand now why elderly people reminisce about the “good old days”.
This sign is still on the back of the Sibley building
But on this day, I’m outside. I always loved the old Rochester Savings Bank at the corner of Liberty Pole and Franklin Streets and 20 years ago, I walked by it every day. But as I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for local history, today I took some time to really look at the details and imagine citizens visiting the bank to do business.
Years ago, I worked at a bank in the suburbs. I was, without a doubt, the world’s worst bank teller. But it was an interesting time to be in banking. Banks were starting to install ATMs in the lobby and tellers were charged with trying to convince people to make deposits or withdrawals using the new “check card”. Corporate type folks told us that eventually bank tellers would be obsolete as lobbies would be staffed only by a loan officer and several ATMs, and Saturday hours and extended hours on Fridays would be eliminated as banking became more and more automated.
Funny, isn’t it, how we predict technology will replace humans, and instead we find that they can coexist quite nicely? (I wrote about this on my blog, if you want to read more musings.) https://notesfromthefunnyfarm.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/50-thoughts-on-turning-50-12-technology-doesnt-always-win/
Anyway, a right turn on Franklin Street and a short walk brought me to the parking lot where I used to fork over a significant amount of my paycheck for the privilege of coming downtown to work. That short walk from lot to lobby seemed much longer back then, probably because I was always late, often caught in traffic in the Can of Worms. I could hear the time clock ticking away in my head and my goal was to hustle as fast as I could to the elevators.
The view from where I used to park.
Today, though, I noticed that if I simply turned my head to the right I could see a beautiful church across the street from the parking lot. Maybe I always knew it was there, but I certainly never appreciated it.
I used to park my car every day in this lot, but I don’t know how often I took the time to turn around and look at this beautiful old church.
St. Joseph’s Church
It’s St. Joseph’s Church and I wanted to explore more but I’d only had enough money to feed the parking meter for 40 minutes, and that time was almost up. I started walking back towards my car, and that’s when I saw this interesting sculpture.
I crossed N. Chestnut to get a better view. I didn’t see a plaque with information (not that I was looking, to be honest) so when I got home, I did some research and found that this is a sculpture garden entitled “Threshold of the Dawn” by David Stephanus. It’s dedicated to the memory of Alan J. Underberg, founding chairman of ViaHealth and was installed in 1999. It’s beautiful and haunting, and the Lutheran Church on the corner of Pleasant Street and North Chestnut was the perfect backdrop for a photo.
As I walked up Liberty Pole Way, I passed a building I’d seen on last year’s Remote Rochester tour. My eye had been caught by the rounded windows and interesting front door, and today I was surprised to see the banners announcing that it’s the home of Updegraff Management.
So here’s a little story: Back in June, I was at a writing conference in Pennsylvania and met a woman named Roberta Updegraff. She’s lives part time in the Bahamas and the rest of the time in P.A. But her son lives in Rochester and – drumroll – owns Updegraff Management. So I knew the company was downtown, but I didn’t know where. Just one of those happy coincidences that leave me struck by how small the world really is, and how often we cross paths with people in the strangest places but always at the right time.
I stopped to take a photo of the building to send to Roberta – “Hey, look where I am!” – and then I noticed garden planters made of pallets, in front of the building. It was an art installation by land artist Pietro Furgiuele.
The planters were a lovely surprise and added charm to the (slightly litter strewn) area. Next door to the office building is a church, the doors open, the chapel available for some spiritual reflection and prayer for anyone who wanted to stop in. Small but beautiful pieces of life you probably pass by every day.
By now it was hot – and I mean hot, hot, hot – and I was sure my parking meter was almost expired. Parking meters really hamper your ability to enjoy exploring downtown during the weekdays, and I thought about how much I’d missed when I was downtown every day. I decided to take my time and hope I didn’t get a ticket.
As I made my way back to Main and Gibbs, I was taking time to admire the Eastman Theater, when I noticed a park on the adjacent corner. It’s Eastman Place, and what a beautiful oasis right in the heart of downtown, with trees and benches, and people eating lunch outside. I have no idea how long that’s been there or how many times I’ve driven right by it, but I was reminded again that you really can’t appreciate how beautiful the city is unless you’re on foot. And taking your time.
Eastman Theater summer 2015
I finished my wanderings with poutine from LePetit Poutine food truck, which was parked near my car. If I’m being honest, the word “poutine” always sounded slightly obscene to me and that’s probably why I’ve never tried it. But in the spirit of adventure, I gave in – french fries, gravy, cheese curds, a sprinkle of thyme. It was delicious and the perfect way to end my afternoon of wandering.
And the best news? When I got back to my meter it read “00:00”. Either I timed it perfectly – the red “expired” flag hadn’t popped up yet – or some kindly soul put a few quarters in the meter for me.
Hopefully you’ll take some time to meander around downtown while the weather is still so nice. Parking is free at the meters after 6 PM in the evening and on weekends, but read the notices on the meters just to be sure.
For the complete Fringe schedule, visit the festival website.
During Governor Cuomo’s daily briefing at Rochester Regional Health in Irondequoit on Monday May 11, he announced that the Finger Lakes region — which includes Monroe County — is among those that have met the necessary criteria to reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” order, which mandated that all non-essential businesses close their physical locations and all individuals only leave their homes for trips to the grocery store and other essential needs, goes through May 15. Any region that has met certain criteria can start to reopen after that date, while regions that have not met the criteria will see an extension of the stay-at-home orders through June 1.
There is no getting around it: COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on local businesses. A great deal of uncertainty surrounds the virus, leaving many questions unanswered. What does the future look like for essential and non-essential businesses? When will things return to “normal?” Is it possible to fully return to the normal we once knew?
Several businesses are taking action into their own hands, not sitting idly by or waiting around for answers. Here are just a few things businesses are doing in a stirring show of perseverance, strength, and solidarity during these uncertain times.
Just a few short months ago, Wegmans made headlines for its willingness to lead the charge ahead of the statewide plastic bag ban. While annual polyethylene production clocks in at around 80 million tons worldwide, the popular grocery store chain was willing to be the first to tell its customers they’d need to make the switch to reusable or paper bags instead.
But now, Rochester’s hometown supermarket is being subjected to even more pressure to our rapidly changing world. As COVID-19 continues to impact thousands of Flower City residents, Wegmans is evolving almost as quickly as new cases are confirmed.
There is no doubt about it… the world will forever be different after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted virtually everyone’s life in every part of the world. Families are shattered with grief, entire cities are shut down, and uncertainty and worry are sweeping the globe.
Across the U.S., hundreds of businesses have already filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation bankruptcy) and owners are doing everything they can to keep their businesses afloat — but they’re running out of options. Unfortunately, small businesses are suffering just as much due to the nationwide quarantine, and Rochester is no exception.
As of Monday, April 20, there are 1,035 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County alone. Sadly, these wild times have all of Rochester anxious, with the majority of people either out of work or working from home. Also, social distancing with PPE gear and self-quarantine are being encouraged all over Rochester, New York, and the entire country.
Though it’s important to spend time having fun with your family so you’re not all just constantly worrying, you still need to be careful about a few things. Here are a few things that you should watch out for during this year’s national quarantine:
With the rate of COVID-19 infections on the rise in Rochester, everyone is on high alert. Folks have been encouraged to practice social isolation in order to stem the risk of infection. Now that the first death from COVID-19 in Monroe County has been confirmed, it makes sense that people are feeling uneasy.
The rapidly spreading new coronavirus is already taking its toll on Americans — and residents of the Flower City are now being encouraged to wait out the worst from the comfort of their own homes. With major holiday events and public school courses both on the cancelation list, it’s an eerie feeling for a city that normally has no shortage of things to do.
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.