UTICA, N.Y. - Local realtors, property owners, city representatives, and community members attended the Downtown Community Forum meeting Tuesday night to discuss Utica's housing market.
A few issues discussed were affordable housing, people having options to buy, and the condition of the houses in the area.
The co-chair for the Downtown Community Forum, Alyssa Spina, says this discussion is important and timely.
"The housing market needs to make sure that we have the inventory to meet the demand and we have the services to identify what the right housing is," Spina said.
One concern with the market in Utica is not having enough houses to purchase. People in the community say the area isn't accommodating as many residential homes as it is rental properties.
"Many of the new homes that are being introduced into the market are being introduced as rentals, and not necessarily as properties people can buy, which can lead to a lack of commitment to ensuring that Utica is the best that it can be," Spina said.
The manager for the Homeownership Center in Utica, Kristen Graves, says there are more rental properties than there are homes.
"The homeownership rate is about a little over 40 percent -- the rest being rentals," Graves said. "Right now we've got different generations going for the same house. So you've got millennials going to the starter home, where you've got your older generation whose families moved out who are also going for that started home because they're down sizing."
Another issues raised by the people at the meeting and the people in the community is finding affordable homes.
"Maybe some of the housing that is available is not necessarily affordable for the people who are seeking homes," Spina said.
Graves says affording a home is also about being comfortable with the cost.
"Affordable housing is not stretching yourself," Graves said. "Understanding that to be in affordable housing you're spending about 30 percent of your grossed median income."
There are also many challenges with buying older homes in the city.
"The housing stock is all significantly older, 80 percent is built pre-1978," Graves said. "So with that you’ve got asbestos, knob and tube, you’ve got lead issues within the home, and also the lead pipes within the home. So it’s a lot to keep up with, maintain, it weighs on health issues, so we’re seeing a lot of issues with that.”
Experts say the best thing to do is to educate yourself before buying a home.
"Doing your research and knowing what you're getting into especially in the Utica area," Graves said. "So it's just becoming educated and working with somebody and knowing the resources that are available."
Graves says the Homeownership Center is a resource available to help educate home buyers on what they can afford to buy, and what its going to cost in the long term to maintain the home.
The next Downtown Community Forum will be held May 7.
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