It’s felt like a quick 2014 here in Buffalo, but all in all it’s been the best year since I moved here. Momentum is gathering and in certain areas, house prices are rising fast (Overall, Buffalo prices rose 16 percent since May 31, 2006 – highest among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, according to research by Clear Capital) The biggest risers have all been the more upmarket city districts, like Allentown, Elmwood Village, and North Buffalo, but as expected this action has caused positive house price ripples all the way through the ‘West Side’ and Blackrock –two ‘investment’ level areas that are witnessing widespread gentrification as we speak. I rarely see empty homes any more (I’m always looking to snap them up!) and the blight that had affected many investment level areas in the past is steadily lifting.
As always, lets look at the underlying trends – what’s actually happening in Buffalo, and what does it mean for landlords and potential landlords in Buffalo?
Looking at the macros, while the population in the metro shrank by almost 1% since 2006, the number of people age 20-34, known as ‘millenials’ jumped by over 10%, one of the largest rise in the country. Thats great news for Buffalo and a great many positive reasons are given here, here and here.
MEDICAL CAMPUS, DOWNTOWN, HARBOR CENTRE & TAX FREE SITES
What are young, economically active people moving to Buffalo for? Or not leaving? This year a whole raft of new critical masses seem to have been achieved. The Medical Campus, and Downtown have been focus points of new construction and job creation. The medical campus continues to grow , while downtown and Harbourside has seen a number of new hotels opening this year together with hundreds of new apartments, re-invigorating the area as a 24 hour mixed use neighbourhood.
Elon Musks new state of the art Riverbend Solar Panel Factory is creating a lot more jobs than first expected. The plan for a medium size facility has been expanded and work has now begun on the largest solar panel factory in the western hemisphere.
STARTUPS and tax breaks
In the 2013 state budget, lawmakers approved a plan by Cuomo to get around the problem of New York taxes. StartUp NY would designate areas near state universities and colleges as tax-free zones, where companies could avoid all state taxes – including employee income taxes – for up to 10 years.
This year the program took off, with businesses clamouring to get in.
Thus far, zones exist at University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Fredonia, Jamestown Community College, Canisius College and D’Youville College. More than a dozen companies have announced plans to move into the sites.
Overall, 2014 has gone a long way to diversify the city economy and put Buffalo on a strong footing for broad, steady economic growth in coming years. The confidence for once is real, the long term economic benefits are real and long term. The cities finances are (unlike many US cities) in good order. The difference between Buffalo and other cities in similar situations, of course is that here we can still buy a 2000ft2 4 bedroom home for $30,000.
Happy New Year Everyone.