Saturday, May 5, 2018

Property costs soaring on the West Side

By Chris Baggs and Neseemah Coleman
Bengal News West Reporters
The sun sets on Elmwood Avenue on an early spring day, behind the budding trees bustling sidewalks. Many can be attracted to the city’s West Side, with its 19th century homes, vibrant neighborhoods and diverse shopping areas.
But for some like 31-year old Ryan Cox, who is looking for investment property on the West Side, buying property can be frustrating. Prices are increasing, and inventory is low.
“It’s not going well,” Cox said.
“I’ve been ushered away from the West Side. People are coming in with huge offers – big cash offers – raising the prices.”
The Elmwood Village and Allentown districts are in demand for homes right now and with the summer months fast approaching, the market will only get busier and make home buying difficult.
“What we’re finding right now is a lot of people want to be in the Elmwood Village. It’s an appealing area right now for buyers,” said William Abels, HUNT licensed real estate salesman.
Abels has been handling real estate with the West Side for five years now.
“There’s a lack of inventory and high demand. Prices are increasing on the West Side of Buffalo and people are starting to look for the next closest options. It’s like a train stop – Elmwood – Black Rock – Riverside,” Abels said.
The main problem for the West Side’s low home ownership, seems to be those lack of homes opening up on the market. According to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report , the Buffalo-Niagara region’s homeownership rate fell to its second-lowest total in 25 years in 2017.
As a result, prices are increasing for potential homeowners. The West Side is experiencing this as well, said Mark DiGiampaola, MJ Peterson licensed real estate agent.
“Prices are escalating into areas we never thought we would see.  It’s making it tough on first time buyers over there,” DiGiampaola said.

DiGiampaola, on homeownership:
Buffalo had a 39.6 percent decrease of overall home inventory since February of last year, according to Business InSider, which detailed the fall of home ownership rates elsewhere across the country.
With the city witnessing a growth in retail and restaurants, the West Side is more attractive to live. However, to live in the city’s West Side, will come at a cost to a potential homeowner’s pockets.
The high demand for property in the area is taking its toll on those people looking for places to rent, too.
Khalid Ahmed looking for an apartment

“Yes, honestly the places I’ve been looking at on the West Side aren’t worth the price,” said Khalid Ahmed, a potential renter, who has been living on the city’s West Side for over seven years. “I don’t think renters have a chance. It’s not just home buyers. Current tenants are smart and will extend their lease if it’s a decent home. Finding a place is difficult for renters too,” Ahmed said.
Even though price has been a stumbling block, there might be other factors deterring home owners away from the West Side. One of them is the fear of crime. Cox agrees.
“It’s a real thing. There’s gang activity. For me, I never truly felt unsafe. I maybe have been lucky never to have experienced the crime myself but I’m sure it’s happening to others,” Cox said.
The popular local Facebook page, “I am a Product of the West Side of Buffalo,” routinely has people voicing frustration over pricing for West Side homes and fear of crime.
Both Abels and DiGiampaola say that the current prices will likely be the norm from now on and that prices will be going up as long as the inventory remains low.
For potential home buyers, price and lack of available property is a real concern with the West Side.