Howard Hanna’s top WNY exec sees a housing market on an upward trend

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Fred Corsi, new Western New York regional president for Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, as of February 2020. (Courtesy of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services)

Business is booming if you’re a Buffalo real estate broker these days, and Fred Corsi wants to make sure his own people can benefit as they work with their clients.

Corsi, a licensed attorney for over 30 years, is the new president of the Western New York Region for industry powerhouse Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. The Canandaigua Lake resident oversees offices and agents in both the Buffalo and Rochester markets for the nation’s No. 3 real estate brokerage, and the largest in upstate New York.

He recently shared his views on the local housing market.

Q: How is the market doing locally?

A: Right now, we think that the market is on an upward trend. Our numbers for the last 90 days have trended upward compared year over year, in listings and in sales, so that we think that bodes well for the market as a whole in 2020.

There’s no sign that there’s going to be any upward tick in interest rates at all, so that we anticipate a positive market for 2020.

It being a presidential election year, that tends to bode well for real estate on a national basis, going back five or six presidential elections. The real estate market has fared very well in a presidential election year.

This year, the economy is trending in a positive direction. The employment numbers are very good. These are all factors that indicate a positive trend.

Q: Is the lack of inventory still an issue?

A: It still is somewhat of a problem. Not quite the problem that it’s been for the last several years, but we can always use more listings.

Given the tools available to us and some of the tools we’ll be introducing in the first six months of this year, we think we’ll give sellers more incentive and comfort in putting their house on the market with us.

I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag early, but it’s a lot of technology stuff that will really impress buyers and sellers and motivate sellers to jump into the marketplace. I can’t say anything more or I’ll get yelled at by all these agents who want to know.

It’ll help sellers sell their houses much faster and it’ll help buyers find the home of their dreams much faster.

Q: How does the industry confront the reluctance of sellers to list their homes?

A: What the sellers are looking for is, “Can I sell the home fast, can I get the price that I want, and can I find something else to move into?” They want to sell their home quickly at the price they want. And they want to be able to know they can find something they want to move into. You have to have tools that give them the comfort to be able to move quickly, things that we already have now.

The “Buy Before You Sell” program gives a seller the ability to buy a new home before they close on their existing home. They’re already helping sellers overcome many objections. You pull the equity out of the house now and use it to close.

If you can’t give people confidence, you have to give people the security to do it at a minimal risk. That’s what the industry has to do, to remove the objection of being able to buy a house before your old house is sold. It gives the sellers the ability to move.

Q: What could derail the market?

A: Our No. 1 concern is our lack of inventory. As far as prices, prices are remaining stable.

What caused us problems back in 2008 was the bubble we had. We don’t see that today. We think appreciation has been at regular paces, so that we don’t see anything that’s crazy or out of whack.

If all other things were equal, if we had more houses to sell, that would answer a significant portion of the challenges we have with the housing market. Interest rates are low, unemployment is low, and people have more money to spend, so the inventory piece is the one piece of the puzzle that we need to work through, and it would change the dynamic of the market rapidly.

Q: Would it help if builders added more new homes?

A: It always helps with new construction. A lot of builders are starting to come back into the market. We have good numbers in Western New York.

But again, that’s one aspect of the inventory puzzle that can be solved. But I can appreciate where builders are coming from that they don’t want to be spending all this money to build speculative houses, because they don’t know what people want.

But yes, that would help. It’s never a bad thing to have new construction to sell.

Q: Any acquisitions in Hanna’s plans to grow locally?

A: We’re always looking at growing, and always looking at coming together with great companies, so we would never say that’s something we’re not interested in. But there’s nothing I can comment on right now.

Published by The Buffalo News

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