HGAR Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Real Estate In-Depth Newspaper

John Jordan | December 2015

Members approve the mergers creating the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors
Real Estate In-Depth Cover 1996 First Issue
Real Estate In-Depth Cover 1996 First Issue

WHITE PLAINS – In 2016,The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors celebrates the 20th anniversary of the launch of its flagship monthly newspaper Real Estate In-Depth and is also acknowledging the 90th consecutive year of publishing a membership newspaper/magazine, in addition of course to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Realtor association.

For those sticklers for accuracy, we are publishing the 20th anniversary commemorative section for the newspaper a month early in December because the January 2016 publication will be devoted to HGAR’s Annual Report.

In early 1995, based on the work of several Westchester County Board of Realtors’ committees, most notably the Communications and Long Range Planning Committees, then WCBR Executive Vice President (now retired) P. Gilbert Mercurio and the organization’s Board of Directors decided the Board needed to upgrade the editorial coverage of its then monthly newspaper Westchester Realtor. Along with newly hired Editor John Jordan and the newspaper’s longtime Graphic Design Consultant Bart D’Andrea of Meadow Art & Design and others, work began on formulating an editorial mission statement as well as renaming and redesigning the publication.

For just about a year, the publisher and newspaper staff discussed what news should be in the newspaper each month and how it should be presented. It was decided that due to the changing needs of its membership, the Board’s newspaper needed to expand from just covering Board-related news and announcements to a regional real estate publication that covered the major local, regional and national real estate and finance news of the day, as well as report on the activities of the Westchester County Board of Realtors and affiliated Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service, Inc.

After nearly 12 months of planning, Real Estate In-Depth was launched in January 1996. Its first edition chronicled the news of the day which included a report on fourth quarter home sales activity in Westchester County, an exclusive report on the appointment of then WCBR member Edwardina Lodes to the newly formed State Board of Real Estate and Governor Pataki pressing for the outright repeal of the much criticized “Cuomo Tax.”

Since then, the newspaper has reported on the major real estate news and trends of the day, even scooped the dailies and the real estate trades press on occasion, while still serving as WCBR’s and later the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors and now the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ flagship communications vehicle. The newspaper has grown from printing approximately 4,000 copies each month to a press run in 2006 of more than 8,000 each edition to now a print run that exceeds 10,000 subscribers. Thanks to a substantial increase in advertising support, the average size of an edition has grown from 20 pages in 1996 to 28 pages today.

WCBR’s Mercurio, in a Publisher’s Note in the first edition of Real Estate In-Depth explained the reasons behind the cessation of publication of Westchester Realtor in favor of Real Estate In-Depth. Twenty years later, his words still apply.

“WCBR felt that since the real estate industry is in the midst of a drastic change the Board’s monthly publication had to adapt to these tumultuous times… Our flagship communication vehicle has to mirror what is going on in the industry and inform membership of the latest news not only in Westchester, but the region, since many of our members do business outside the county,” Mercurio wrote in the January-February 1996 edition of Real Estate In-Depth.

“The sky is the limit with what we can do with this publication in the future,” Mercurio added. “WCBR asks its members and readership to patronize our advertisers who are supporting our effort to bring you the only real estate-oriented publication in the lower New York State region.”

Real Estate In-Depth Editor Jordan, who served as editor of Westchester Realtor in its last year of publication, said in a story published for the newspaper’s 10-year anniversary, “Real Estate In-Depth has grown from humble beginnings to a publication that is a must read for the WCBR membership and for other area real estate and finance industry officials alike. The tremendous surge in advertising support over the years is due in large part to the fact that the paper is so widely read by Realtors and other real estate and finance professionals. I would just like to thank and acknowledge the foresight of WCBR to realize that a newspaper of this type was possible and could be successful.

“For all who have lent a hand, written a column, sold an ad, purchased an ad, taken a picture, drawn a cartoon, worked on the paper’s design, written a letter to the editor or just offered a word of encouragement, my heartfelt thanks. This newspaper has been a labor of love for me and I look forward to the next 10 years,” Jordan said.

Those sentiments ring true today. In terms of my journalism career, the 20-year relationship with WCBR, later WPAR, and now HGAR is the longest by far and the most satisfying. I have been lucky and honored to work with a group of professionals (both staff and volunteer Directors and Officers) that believe in the mission of this publication and work hard to make sure each edition brings value and useful information to the membership and readership. We have flourished during the boom years and persevered during the recessions that dogged the real estate market here and across the country over the last two decades. We have tried to present an accurate and at times an “In-Depth” view of the major news and trends affecting real estate here.

I am excited to report that we have recently unveiled a new design for the print edition of the newspaper and introduced a radically different looking and much more interactive newspaper website at www.realestateindepth.com. Here’s to getting together for the 30th anniversary. I wonder what changes are in store for us in the next decade?

How Things Change—1996-2016

  1996 2006 2016
WCBR Membership 3,992 7,424 (as of Nov.2005) Aprox. 10,000 (12/7/2015)
       
Avg Price      
Single Family Home $260,000 $711,700 (3Q 2005) $676,500 (3Q 2015)
Condominium $150,000 $390,000 $373,000
Cooperative $59,000 $185,000 $162,500
       
County Office      
Availability (Vacancy) Rate White Plains Office 16.65% 13.3% 24.2%
Availability(Vacancy Rate Countywide Office 26.00% 14.1% 22.8%
Asking Rent (Class A) $21.50 $26.27 $25.40

Average home prices were based on fourth quarter 1995 and third quarter 2005and 2015 figures reported at the time by the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service Inc. and HGAR.
*Office availability and office rent figures for the start of 1996 were based on fourth quarter 1995 data released at the time by Edward S. Gordon. The 2006 office figures were based on the third quarter 2005 market report released by CB Richard Ellis. The 2015 (third quarter) office vacancy statistics were from a report released by brokerage firm JLL.

Some Major News Stories in Past 20 Years

1996
Pataki Presses for Repeal of Cuomo Tax
Flat Tax Proposal Proves Controversial
Donald Trump to Build Golf Courses in County But Backs Out of Davids Island Project
Westchester Realtors Richard Albert and Edwardina Lodes Named to Newly Formed State Board of Real Estate
Pataki Vows to Veto Westchester’s Property Revaluation Bill

1997
Office Developer Robert Martin Merges with Cali Corp.
WPMLS Signs Contract with Maestro
Westchester-Putnam Home Listings Go Online @ Realtor.com

1998
Texaco to Lease Out Part of HQ Building in Harrison
Collins Enterprises to Develop Yonkers Waterfront

1999
Hurricane Floyd Ravages Parts of County

2000
GM Plan in Sleepy Hollow Delayed Again
WCBR Introduces WCBR.Net (Members-only website)
WPMLS Approves Internet-based MLS System
Tishman Speyer Pulls Out of White Plains Project

2001
XMLSWeb Launched
Realtors Expect Slowdown to Take Hold After Terrorist Attacks

2002
XMLSWeb Goes Online
Home Sales Break $500,000 Price Barrier

2003
Galleria and Westchester Pavilion Malls Sold
Fortunoff Opens $93 Million Development in White Plains
Forest City Ratner Proposes $600 Million Project in Yonkers

2004
Realtors Score Quick KO of Property Transfer Tax Bill
RPW Buys Altria Complex in Rye Brook for $40 Million

2005
Supreme Court Ruling Sparks Cries for Changes in Eminent Domain Law
Realtors Outraged Over Federal Tax Reform Plan
Realtors Prepare for Soft Landing

2006
2005 Home Sales Sets New Record in Westchester County
Storms Cause Significant Damage To Homes, Businesses in Westchester
Classic Residence by Hyatt Shelves $350 Million Senior Development
$160 Million Trump Plaza Project (in New Rochelle) ‘Topped Off’
$100M Biomedical Project Planned At Landmark at Eastview Complex

2007
Westchester Home Sales Dropped 13% in 2006
Yonkers Desegregation Case Nears End
$1 Billion Office Project in White Plains Shelved
Legislature Passes Education Bill, Enacts Local Transfer Tax
Controversial $600M Ridge Hill Project Breaks Ground
New Castle Considers Scaled Down Plan For Redevelopment of Reader’s Digest

2008
GM Searches for New Developer for Lighthouse Landing
$1.5 Billon Yonkers Waterfront Plan Clears Hurdle
WCBR Moves to New Home in White Plains
Housing Correction Continues in Second Quarter
New Tappan Zee Bridge to Cost $16 Billion

2009
Fortunoff Store in White Plains to Close
Realtor Reaction Mixed to Obama Stimulus Plans
Westchester, Putnam Realtor Boards to Merge
Mayor Delfino Reflects on White Plains Renaissance
Realtors Believe Recession Hasn’t Run its Course
Reader’s Digest Looks to Move HQ to NYC
Westchester to Spend $50 Million To Settle Fair Housing Court Case

2010
Henry Fries Takes Over as 2010 NYSAR President
Westchester Releases Fair Housing Plan
Feds, Monitor Still Critical of County’s Fair Housing Plan
Realtors Conflicted on Direction of Home Sales Market

2011
Board Directors Approve Staff Transition Plan: Mercurio to Retire,
Haggerty to Succeed Him
Experts Predict a Slow-Motion Real Estate Recovery
County Executive Calls for End of Tappan Zee Bridge Study
Astorino: HUD Says Housing Settlement Cost Has No Ceiling
Pols, Business Leaders Press for Mass Transit to be Part of New Tappan Zee Bridge Plan
Three Boards Approve Merger to Create New Realtor Association

2012
In-Depth Goes Digital
Richard Haggerty Appointed CEO of Newly-Formed HGAR
County Executive Diana Proposes New $75-Million Government Center
Reports: Disney Publishing to Close White Plains Operations
HGAR Members Travel to D.C. To ‘Protect the American Dream’
Life Time Fitness Breaks Ground On $40M Project in Harrison
PepsiCo to Begin $240M Upgrade of Corporate Headquarters
Region Struggles to Recover From Hurricane Sandy

2013
New Tappan Zee to Cost About $4B to Build
Rep. Maloney Pledges Support for Mortgage Interest Deduction
Economic Development Takes Center Stage in Putnam
Investors Eying New Uses Along I-287
City (Yonkers) Scraps $3 Billion SFC Project

2014
GM Picks Developer for Former Sleepy Hollow Plant
HGAR’s Endres Installed as 2014 NYSAR President
Rockland County Working with Novartis to Find New User for Suffern Plant
First Quarter Home Sales Rise Nearly 11% in HGAR Region
Neuhaus Tackles Budget Deficit, Valley View, Casinos, Government Center at CID Session
President Obama Visits TZ Bridge Site; Warns of Transportation Funding Crisis
22 Players Pay $1 Million For Casino Rights in NYS
PSC Orders Utility to Stop Pursuit of Desalination Plant in Haverstraw

2015
PepsiCo to Vacate Somers Complex in 2016
Exclusive: Westchester Pavilion Mall to be Sold To Make Way for $275 Million Project
HGAR to Move Headquarters To The Source at White Plains
Annexation Votes Set Off Flurry of Lawsuits By Municipalities, Orange County, Kiryas Joel
Regular Contributors to Newspaper
Derek Alger, writer (deceased)
Mary Prenon, writer
John Jordan, writer, editor
Adrienne Cardona, circulation, mailing
Marianna Nichols, circulation
Gary Connolly, circulation
David Arnold, advertising
Harriet Lerner, writer, advertising sales
Mike Dardano, advertising
Maria Laidley, advertising
Myron Miller, editorial cartoonist
Julian Block, tax columnist
Edward I. Sumber, legal columnist
John Dolgetta, legal columnist
Linda Sands, technology columnist
John Vrooman, technology columnist
Donald Arace, mortgage columnist
Irene Amato, mortgage columnist
Jeff Strauss, mortgage columnist
Edna Haber, mortgage columnist
Jeff Pardes, mortgage columnist
P. Gilbert Mercurio, writer, columnist
Richard Haggerty, writer, columnist
Philip Weiden, legislative columnist
John Vecchiolla, photography
Teri Vitaliani, Membership, RPAC, Calendar (deceased)
Eileen Taus, Education
Bart D’Andrea, art director
Jennifer Maher, columnist
Roseanne Lionetti, RPAC, Calendar
Leah Warncke, advertising bill processing
Christopher McKniff, legislative columnist

WCBR/WPAR/HGAR Presidents 1996-20016
1996 – Arthur G. McCartney (deceased)
1997 – Ron Reid
1998 – Savo Fries
1999 – Savo Fries
2000 – Marilyn Pfaller (deceased)
2001 – Donna Tierney (deceased)
2002 – Carol Kope
2003 – Carol Kope
2004 – Carol Kope
2005 – J.P. Endres
2006 – J.P. Endres
2007 – Harding Mason
2008 – Harding Mason
2009 – Leah Caro
2010 – Leah Caro
2011 – Michael Graessle
2012 – Nancy Kennedy
2013 – Katheryn DeClerck
2014 – Diane Cummins
2015 – Drew Kessler
2016 – Marcene Hedayati (President-elect)

 

Slider photo: Tens of thousands of Realtors from across the country, including a large contingent from HGAR, traveled to Washington, DC in May 2012 for the “Rally to Protect the American Dream.”

Story photo: In late October and early November 2011 in separate votes, the Rockland County Board of Realtors, the Orange County Association of Realtors and the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors approved the merger of the three organizations into what would become the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth