Fourth Quarter News

Positive Trends for Rhode Island’s Housing Market in December

Warwick, RI, January 23, 2015…The year ended on an upswing in Rhode Island’s housing market, with December’s single family home sales increasing 18 percent from the previous year.  The statistics, reported today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, also showed a four percent uptick in median price from 12 months earlier.

Though the housing market fluctuated during 2014, general trends continued to show a recovering market.  Foreclosure and short sales fell from 20 percent of total sales in December, 2013 to 14 percent of all single family sales last month. Sales under contract, which foretell sales activity in the market in the months ahead, increased in December for the fifth consecutive month.

“Both sales activity and median price rose from the prior year for three out of the last four months of 2014. We seem to be heading in a positive direction as we enter the New Year,” said Bruce Lane, 2015 President of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. “Though sellers are gaining an advantage due to a slight shortage of homes for sale, the number of properties on the market will likely increase now that the holidays are over.”  There was a five-month supply of homes for sale in December.  A six-month supply indicates a market balanced between supply and demand.

Read the full article and see accompanying statistics on


Companies announce plans to expand, build in Woonsocket

10/31/2014 – The Valley Breeze

WOONSOCKET – In her second press conference in just one week on economic development in Woonsocket, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt announced an expected $9 million in investment with the potential for about 100 new jobs in the city in the next year.

Companies expected to invest in the city include Cumberland Farms, Dunkin Donuts, Dollar General, Textile Engineering and Manufacturing Inc. and real estate developer Ray Bourque.

The positive news comes on the heels of an announcement last week regarding four businesses planning to open up shop or relocate to Woonsocket and occupy some of the city’s long vacant real estate, including Ardent Displays, which will be housed on the property previously owned by Walmart on Diamond Hill Road.

Baldelli-Hunt’s second round of economic news focused on five new construction projects.

Textile Engineering, a company producing high tech goods that has been headquartered on Park East Drive since 2008, will soon begin a $1 million expansion expected to create 15 new jobs over the next five years.

Dollar General will be building a new 9,000 square foot location in front of the old Bonin Spinning Mill, creating another 15 jobs.

A new Cumberland Farms convenience store and service station is coming to the corner of Park East Drive and Mendon Road, by the entrance to Highland Corporate Parks. That $4.5 million project is expected to bring in yet another 15 jobs.

Bourque, meanwhile, has plans to build a 15,000 square foot medical and healthcare complex at 767 Social St.

The mayor also announced that Dunkin Donuts will be moving from its current location at 1431 Diamond Hill Road to the location that once held the restaurant Vermette’s.

Rents remain stable through turmoil

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 10/20/14

In a volatile economy and real estate market, Rhode Island rents have been a source of stability.

Unlike sales prices, rents in the Ocean State did not plunge after the housing bubble burst or, like in Boston or New York, soar during the recovery.

They’ve risen 1.7 percent statewide since 2008, according to survey data from Rhode Island Housing, and 8 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The state has gained roughly 10,000 renter households since the recession and lost about the same number of homeowners, according to Rhode Island Housing.

Those new renters have kept vacancy rates low, but landlords haven’t been able to leverage tight supply into higher rents because incomes rose a paltry 0.4 percent since 2006, a decline when adjusted for inflation.

The phenomenon of formerly separate households combining in a single space, prevalent nationally, has also helped prevent the decline in home ownership from translating into higher rents.

“The big-picture messages coming from the data are that rents have remained high,” said Amy Rainone, director of intergovernmental relations at Rhode Island Housing.

That inability to pass costs along to tenants is why many multifamily properties went into foreclosure in the recession, some of which lenders then abandoned instead of repossessing.

Carrying high debt-service costs from the bubble, owners were unable to sell or refinance when the sales market collapsed.

Combined with property-tax increases – Providence raised taxes to 175 percent of owner-occupant rates before scaling them back to 160 percent this year – it also helps explain why high vacancy rates have not created a surge in apartment construction as they have in other areas.

The state also appears to be still working off over-construction during the subprime mortgage years.

Between 2005 and last year, the state’s population declined by 16,405 people, according to American Community Survey estimates.

Over that same period, the number of total housing units in the state rose 3.1 percent, or 13,848 units.

Many of the new units had their origin in the boom years and since 2011 the state has actually lost 3,083 units with construction stalled and many vacant foreclosures officially removed from inventory.

Last year rents, including utility costs, declined 1.9 percent compared with 2012, while pure unadjusted rents rose 3.9 percent, according to Rhode Island Housing.

In the first six months of 2014, the average two-bedroom, utility-included rent rose 2 percent and pure rent rose 3.1 percent.

Formerly focused on passage of state affordable housing bonds, affordable housing advocacy group HousingWorks RI, now affiliated with Roger Williams University, this year began extending its interest further into market-rate housing.

“We still believe a public investment is necessary, but we know that more needs to be done to address housing affordability,” said HousingWorks Executive Director Nicole Lagace.

In its 2014 Fact Book, HousingWorks reported that the number of communities meeting state targets for affordable housing – five – had not changed from 2012.

Keith Fernandez, a board member of the Providence Apartment Association, which represents landlords, said at least in the city, the migration of some residents into renovated buildings downtown has had a moderating effect on rents elsewhere.

Some of the new downtown properties, which Fernandez noted are aided by tax treaties that the association opposes, are taking tenants who may have otherwise lived on the East Side.

East Side landlords feel they then have to keep rents below the downtown properties, with West Side landlords staying below the East Side, and so on down the line of neighborhood exclusivity, he said.

“Occupancy has stabilized citywide, but you hit that equilibrium rent and can’t go above that without maxing out what tenants can afford,” said Fernandez, who owns nine buildings with 30 units.


Information for Property Owners of Rental Housing, Child-Occupied Facilities

epa_leadsafecertfirmProperty owners who renovate, repair, or prepare surfaces for painting in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must, before beginning work, provide tenants with a copy of EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools. Owners of these rental properties must document compliance with this requirement – EPA’s sample pre-renovation disclosure form may be used for this purpose.

After April 22, 2010, property owners who perform these projects in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must be certified and follow the lead-safe work practices required by EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Remodeling rule. To become certified, property owners must submit an application for firm certification and fee payment to EPA. EPA will begin processing applications on October 22, 2009. The Agency has up to 90 days after receiving a complete request for certification to approve or disapprove the application.

Property owners who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs in rental property should also:

– Take training to learn how to perform lead-safe work practices.

– Learn the lead laws that apply to you regarding certification and lead-safe work practices beginning in April 2010.

– Keep records to demonstrate that you and your workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that you followed lead-safe work practices on the job. To make recordkeeping easier, you may use the ample record-keeping checklist that EPA has developed to help contractors comply with the renovation recordkeeping requirements that will take effect in April 2010.

Information for Homeowners Working at Home