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>Number of for-sale signs signals housing slump

BATAVIA -- There's a new and unusual crop springing up on front lawns throughout the city: for-sale signs -- for real estate agents, a buyers' market.

Lois Gerace, owner of Bob Harris Realty, the oldest and, with 14 on its staff, the largest of the city's half-dozen major real estate firms, confirms that the worsening housing slump has arrived in Batavia.

Gerace, who with her broker husband, Joseph R. Gerace, bought the agency 30 years ago, says Multiple Listing Service shows 130 houses for sale, about three times the usual number at this time of year. This does not include private sales by owners avoiding a broker's fee.

Of homes for sale with an average price of $85,000, all but 30 are single-family. Usually at this time, the Realtor said, there are only 10 two- and three-family homes on the market.

Lois Gerace says there are several reasons for the glut, ranging from uncertain mortgage interest rates to rising real property taxes. This year, the city imposed a 19.6 percent property tax increase on homeowners. In addition, sewer and water rates increased this year by more than one-third.


>Town Board delays issue of hiring police officer

FALCONER -- The Ellicott Town Board will hold off until next month on the hiring of a full-time police officer.

The matter was to be taken up at the board's recent meeting, but Supervisor Pat Tyler said that due to the last minute nature of the hiring, it was put off.
Tyler said the town clerk was on vacation and board members weren't informed about the item until the day of the vote. He said a couple of panel members had some questions they wanted answered first.

"They want to look at the budget. They want to look at the numbers. They want the chief to provide us some information as to the number of calls, why he needs to go back to the full staff of nine police officers," he added.

The hiring would bring the Ellicott Police Department back up to a full compliment of officers, which it hasn't had in some time.

Tyler said Chief Bill Ohnmeiss brought the matter to the board for it's consideration and said getting back to the full regiment would help in rotating shifts and scheduling.

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