County land bank contracts with realtors‍‍‍

OSWEGO — County Land Bank officials hired two real estate agents Friday in an effort to better market properties as the organization continues to shift its focus from demolitions to rehabilitations.

Land bank officials approved contracts with two real estate agents — Karen Gage of Central New York Realty and Bill Galloway of Century 21 Galloway Realty — who will market properties owned by the organization and post them on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to reach more prospective buyers.

Formed in 2016, the Oswego County Land Bank Incorporated has taken possession of more than 20 properties, and focused largely on demolishing some of the county’s worst structures. The land bank has demolished or has scheduled demolitions on more than 10 properties, but officials are now planning to concentrate on rehabilitating properties and returning them to productive use and taxable status.

In order to make informed decisions on how and when to invest in restoring a property, land bank officials said working with real estate firms would allow for accurate appraisals of values and provide tips on making properties more marketable.

Chairman Shane Broadwell said without a realtor to guide decisions, the organization is “somewhat guessing about markets” and what type of returns an investment might bring.

“Right now we’re guessing that we can get ‘x’ amount of dollars, and the question is what we will actually get at the end,” Broadwell said, adding that bringing a realtor on board would help the organization make better decisions on whether or not to invest in a certain property.

Director Kim Park said without clearly defined sale prices up to this point, the land bank has run into obstacles selling properties, and realtors could help facilitate faster sales that bring in more money.‍‍‍

“That’s really been a stumbling block,” Park said of the land bank’s practice of seeking proposals without a defined price. “It’s very confusing for people, and if you don’t give them a selling price they’re going to low-ball you.”

In choosing the real estate firms, Park said the organization sent information to the Great Syracuse Association of Realtors, and a handful of local real estate agents expressed interest in working with the land bank.

The organization split the county into three geographic regions, and plans to hire a real estate firm to specialize in each of the three areas. Officials said realtors should be able to identify potential improvements to properties and sales tactics the organization might be overlooking that could make a property more marketable.

Park said Galloway would primarily handle properties in and around the city of Oswego, with Gage marketing properties “east of state Route 3,” including Sandy Creek, Pulaski and the surrounding areas.

The other area identified would include the city of Fulton, towns of Volney and Granby and other nearby areas.

Board member Paul Stewart said the organization should also work on identifying specific improvements that would make properties highly marketable.

“Where we are still lacking a little capacity is our ability to say ‘what can we do to improve this house’ like a real estate development company or flipper would so that it sells for the best price,” Stewart said.