Rochester Housing Market’s Growing Popularity Poses Potential Problem For Renters

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Real estate industry

Rochester’s real estate market is heating up. According to a recent report from Realtor.com, the housing market in Rochester is one of the top real estate markets in the country for homebuyers looking for affordable housing alternatives to pricey cities.

“The cities that we expect to do best in 2020 are not necessarily big, fancy, coastal cities, but secondary markets where the job market is still pretty good but housing is affordable,” said Danielle Hale, the chief economist of Realtor.com.

Criteria for the top cities on Realtor.com’s list included median home price, home price change, and sales change. The median price range for single-family homes in Monroe County is $147,000 and veterans can apply for G.I. Bill benefits online if financial assistance is needed.

Other key selling points for Rochester include the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, which are two of the city’s biggest employers. Rochester’s nightlife, restaurants, and music scene were also appreciated.

Popular suburbs could increase housing costs

Rochester’s median real estate prices are significantly below the national average of $200,000 and, what’s more, it goes a long way. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, a 1,050-square-foot ranch house with three bedrooms, a full bathroom, and a partially finished basement in Henrietta recently sold for $146,000.

The house, which closed on a deal this month, is well-maintained with hardwood floors, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. There are over 100 grades of stainless steel and the U.S. is the world’s number one importer.

“Condition is key,” said Jenalee Herb of Howard Hanna Real Estate, who represented the seller. “Homes in good condition are going very fast.”

Unfortunately, when homes go fast, prices tend to go up. Henrietta’s recent popularity for its low tax rate and convenient location close to downtown and local shops have hiked housing prices substantially in just the past year. The median asking price for a single-family home in Henrietta was $155,500 in 2018 and $169,400 in 2019.

Growing housing costs could drive up rent

According to a recent report by Salud America!, a UT Health San Antonio research organization, Latino homeownership has dropped in the last three years and a growing number of Latino families are becoming dependent on rentals. Approximately 50% of Latinos rent their homes.

When property values increase, landlords increase rent prices. This makes the Rochester housing market’s recent popularity a potential problem as Latinos’ annual incomes have remained virtually the same for the last decade.

The U.S. labor force was comprised of 162.07 million people in 2018 and the median household income was $53,482 a year. In Rochester, the median household income is $30,784. Nationally, the median household income for Latinos and Hispanics is $30,000.

Approximately 56% of Latinos feel burdened by high housing costs, spending over 30% of their income on housing-related costs. This makes it difficult to afford food, healthcare, childcare, and utilities. The average electric bill alone is $111.67 at 914 kWh per month.

High housing costs and tougher commutes

High housing costs often push Latinos further away from metro areas, which increases transportation challenges. According to the Salud America! report, one-third of Latinos use public transportation daily or weekly and often report the routes don’t go where they need them to. They also said the public transportation services were infrequent, unreliable, and unsafe.

In Canada, the Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative invested $2 billion in the country’s transportation infrastructure to make it more efficient and effective. But the U.S. is falling behind with its own public transportation system.

“There is a distinctly American idea to have infrequent trains from the suburb into the city,” said Jarrett Walker, a Canadian consultant in public transit network design.

According to Salud America!, Latino families who live in bike-friendly or walkable communities with reliable public transportation often face lower poverty rates and health problems. They’re also more likely to access employment.

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, the lead author of the Salud America! report, says cities like Rochester need to expand public transit routes to where the highest proportion of low-income families live. Latino-centered affordable housing programs would also create good opportunities for Latino Rochesterians to invest in Monroe Country’s housing market.

“These are the kinds of changes that form the foundation for healthy, active neighborhoods that allow further access to jobs, health, educational resources, and social networks, all of which play a role in improving health equity for Latinos and all people,” said Ramirez.