Fulton County

Johnstown school budget may affect housing market

Realtor says some may not want to live in school district
Real Estate agent Bradley Yerdon stands next to a home for sale at 236 County Route 107 in Johnstown.
Real Estate agent Bradley Yerdon stands next to a home for sale at 236 County Route 107 in Johnstown.

JOHNSTOWN — Local schools are one of the things people often consider when buying a house. So there’s a new set of considerations in Johnstown.

Local Realtor Bradley Yerdon of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services has a pretty good perspective on the issue, as a fifth-generation resident whose entire real estate career has been focused on the Johnstown-Gloversville area. 

He’s also a product of the Greater Johnstown School District, and his son now attends Johnstown High, where he plays lacrosse and soccer.

So Yerdon’s business prospects, taxes and family all will be impacted by how the budget situation plays out in Johnstown.

He thinks big program cuts and big tax hikes can’t help but have some impact on homebuyers and sellers, and the price of houses.

“It’s kind of early to tell but the scuttlebutt here among my colleagues in the office is … a lot of kids play sports. We feel that if this truly happens, it’s definitely going to impact the market. Will it be huge? That’s to be determined.”

Yerdon added: “I already know, I won’t say who, a family that’s lived here their whole life, they put their house up. They’re moving to another school district.”

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According to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, the 12095 ZIP code — which contains the city of Johnstown but also a swath of the surrounding towns — had a median single-family house sale price of $120,694 so far this year, down from $126,070 in all of 2018. This compares with a median price of $105,000 in all of Fulton County so far in 2019, and $87,000 for 2018.

Fulton County contains multiple real estate markets, however. The two neighboring Glove Cities have very different housing prices, Gloversville much lower than Johnstown. Rural towns with lakes have two classes of houses — lakefront and everything else.

Yerdon said Gloversville has the reputation for higher crime, taxes and blight than Johnstown, and these things may be driving down sale prices in Gloversville. Still, a good house there can be a good investment.

“Gloversville houses still sell,” he said. “Your money will go further in Gloversville.”

Due to ethical constraints, Yerdon actually isn’t able to tell clients how good or bad a school district is, or talk about budget cuts — he can only say a house is in the Johnstown or the Broadalbin-Perth school district. For example, ethics forbid Yerdon from characterizing school districts in “Johnstown at a crossroads” or Broadalbin-Perth as “high-achieving.”

What worries him about the Johnstown school budget situation is its potential impact on the psyche of residents.

“The one thing I can say about Johnstown, living here my whole life: There’s a lot of pride here that runs generations deep. Pride and tradition, I guess is the key word.”

So, one wonders, how did Yerdon vote on the proposed 2019-2020 Johnstown school budget, with its 35 percent tax levy hike that would have affected him at home and his clients at the office?

“I voted ‘yes.’ Was I thrilled about it? No. But I work here, I live here. My son goes to school here.”

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