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Agents scramble to meet demand…in Rochester?

There’s a sustained, nationwide surge in housing demand, plus a crippling lack of inventory – and Rochester is hardly impervious to either of these historic trends. 
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Rochester, New York

On Saturday, high temperatures in Rochester, New York, will plummet to a frigid eight degrees Fahrenheit and the city has already seen over 18 inches of snow since the start of the year. 

That’s standard for Rochester, a city on the banks of Lake Ontario that quickly grew after the American Revolution and gave birth to Eastman Kodak and Xerox, but whose population has tumbled from around 350,000 in the mid-20th century to just over 200,000 today.

In November, Rochester’s median home sales price was $154,838, according to Redfin, less than half of the national median that month of $335,519.

Still, there’s a sustained, nationwide surge in housing demand, plus a crippling lack of inventory – and Rochester is hardly impervious to either of these historic trends. 

“The market last year was unprecedented,” said Mark Siwiec, a Keller Williams agent in Brighton, a town just southeast of Rochester. “It left us breathless. Until about mid-May of this past year the market was unlike anything we’d ever experienced. Then we downshifted from securing 20-25 offers and selling for $15,000 to $75,000 over asking to a market that was still a great seller’s market, but just not as insane, and that market lasted until about mid-September.”

That median sales price is up 3.8% year over year, per Redfin, and the November 2020 price was itself up 12.4% from 2019. In addition, the sale-to-list price ratio was 106.3% in November, per Redfin, suggesting listing agents perhaps underestimated continued market demand. 

“While we are finding some pockets of the market that are cooling off, others, like suburban Rochester, are even more competitive than they were a year ago,”  local Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Zambito agent Sichel Cignarale said. “The city of Rochester itself is still very competitive. People are using escalation clauses [a clause in an offer that automatically increases the purchase price by a certain amount over competing offers] and other strategies in their attempts to outbid the competition.”

Cignarale noted signs of cooling off, including some properties appraising for lower than expected and once desperate buyers no longer waiving home inspections. But the market remains elevated, especially for the winter season when things typically slow down in Rochester as illustrated in the number of homes on the market and percentage of homes selling for over list price.

Agents claim that buyers are leaving pricey, big cities for Rochester including “boomerang buyers” who grew up in Rochester but moved away. 

“We are seeing a decent amount of boomerang buyers, who, due to job changes or just being able to work remotely, are able to return home,” Mandy Friend Gigliotti, a local Keller Williams agent said. “Truthfully, Rochester is just a beautiful place and a great place to raise a family. There are so many amenities, there is not a lot of traffic and the culture is really strong here.”

Aside from Brooklyn, Siwiec and other local agents have helped buyers from Manhattan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco move to Rochester. 

“We are experiencing the phenomenon of people realizing that their job is portable, so they sell the Brownstone in Brooklyn for $1.5 million, pocket $750,000 in equity and use the remaining money to buy a house in Rochester that is three times the size of what they were living in, with the added benefits of a larger yard and less congestion,” Siwiec said.

Many agents also cited the area’s public school system and the many local highly-rated universities, including Rochester Institute of Technology and Eastman School of Music, as well as the city’s proximity to the picturesque Finger Lakes region. 

This increase in demand for housing has resulted in high levels of competition and multiple offer situations. 

“We are still seeing 15 to 20 offers on properties and that has been during the holiday time,” Tiffany Hilbert, a Rochester Keller Williams agent, said. “I think a lot of buyers want to try to buy a house and lock in before mortgage rates potentially go up, so people are still seriously looking to find a home.”

“Generally, you pretty much have to go in at or above ask, if you really want to be competitive on a house and you definitely want to use an escalation clause,” Hilbert said. “I think the big thing, if you are representing a buyer, is to have a strong and fierce conversation with them prior to even going out and looking because you’ve got to set that expectation the correct way for them and you have to gain their trust so they will listen to you when it comes time to put a competitive offer in.”

In addition to heightening the level of competition for properties, this influx of homebuyers has placed increased stress on the area’s already tight housing inventory.

“In the six county region, which Rochester is part of, six years ago or so there were typically around 7,500 homes on the market,” Siwiec said. “But for the past three or four years that number has not risen above 1,000 units and right now we have less than 560 homes on the market in this region.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the median number of days a home has sat on the market in Rochester has not risen above 12. Currently, it is less than 10 days on the market.

“Some new properties came on the market last Friday morning and they are not accepting offers until Monday,” Cignarale said. “So some of these homes, agents are only giving one weekend and then they are gone.”

Local agents do not see any hope on the horizon for the city’s low inventory issues, especially with starter homes suited to first time homebuyers.

“People are staying in their existing homes longer, so less inventory is hitting the market and there just aren’t enough starter homes being built, so we are struggling with that too” Siwiec said. “Of course, COVID plays into things as well. With all the uncertainty we have seen a lot of people decide to invest in their current home rather than find something new. Even with it being such a strong seller’s market people are thinking, ‘Well, I just dropped $125,000 in my property to make it what I want, why should I sell now?’”

Local agents expect things to continue escalating, but hopefully at a slower pace.

“We are forecasting the spring market will begin sometime in the middle to the third week of January, Siwiec said. “Once again we are anticipating that the first six months of this year are going to be reminiscent of last year with lots and lots of buyers and very few properties available. Values will more likely than not increase again, but due to inflation and rising interest rates, we are thinking that come Memorial Day, things will start to cool off significantly.”

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Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says

Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says
PR Newswire
NEW YORK, May 18, 2022

NEW YORK, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A number of macro variables have deteriorated since our most recent eco…



Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- A number of macro variables have deteriorated since our most recent economic growth forecast at the end of March, said S&P Global in its article "Global Macro Update: Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation." We've marked down our GDP forecasts due to weaker first-quarter numbers in many countries, higher energy and commodity prices, a longer-than-expected Russia-Ukraine conflict, faster monetary policy normalization, and slower Chinese growth.

The global economy continues to face an unusually large number of negative shocks. 

"We now expect U.S. growth to decline by 80 basis points to 2.4%, eurozone growth to drop by 60 basis points to 2.7%, and China's growth to fall by 70 basis points to 4.2%. Changes to 2023-2025 are relatively minor," said Global Chief Economist Paul Gruenwald. "The balance of risks to our baseline has deteriorated since our last forecast and remains firmly on the downside."

The global economy continues to face an unusually large number of negative shocks. At the beginning of 2022, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were in retreat in most geographies. As a result, we forecast a robust but uneven rebound, with above-trend growth in most countries and moderately high but transitory inflation. The main questions were when economies would regain their pre-COVID-19 path of output, and what changes brought about by the pandemic would be structural.

Two developments have altered the macro picture. One is Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February. This sent energy and commodities prices (even) higher for (even) longer and put a dent in confidence, which was at high levels. The second is inflation, which has turned out to be higher, broader based, and more persistent than thought just a few quarters ago.

This report does not constitute a rating action. 

Media Contact:

Orla O'Brien, New York (1) 857-407-8559

S&P Global Ratings is the world's leading provider of independent credit ratings. Our ratings are essential to driving growth, providing transparency and helping educate market participants so they can make decisions with confidence. We have more than 1 million credit ratings outstanding on government, corporate, financial sector and structured finance entities and securities. We offer an independent view of the market built on a unique combination of broad perspective and local insight. We provide our opinions and research about relative credit risk; market participants gain independent information to help support the growth of transparent, liquid debt markets worldwide.

S&P Global Ratings is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit



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New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities’ prosperity

New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities’ prosperity
PR Newswire
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022

The Digital Advancement Municipal Index uses 16 key indicators to profile U.S. cities’ prosperity in the…



New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities' prosperity

PR Newswire

  • The Digital Advancement Municipal Index uses 16 key indicators to profile U.S. cities' prosperity in the digital economy.
  • The index provides a resource for cities and states to uncover opportunities for targeted action as they prepare to respond to historic federal investments in broadband infrastructure and digital equity.
  • The index shows that while digital access and adoption are foundations for a vibrant city, they work jointly with other factors to improve quality of life.

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Centri Tech Foundation launched the Digital Advancement Municipal Index (Muni Index), which uses 16 indicators from four categories – technology, socioeconomics, education, and housing – to capture and compare a city's overall prosperity and digital equity metrics across 308 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 people.

Digital Advancement Municipal Index tool shows the impact of digital infrastructure on U.S. cities' overall prosperity

The interactive digital tool offers city leaders seeking to achieve digital advancement a clearer perspective on the greatest opportunities to drive impact in their communities.

"The Digital Advancement Municipal Index is an excellent resource for cities across the country," said Juliet Fink-Yates, the digital inclusion manager for the City of Philadelphia's Office of Innovation and Technology. "Philadelphia has made great strides to increase digital equity, and we're building on that progress with a 5-year plan to expand digital access across every neighborhood in the city. This index is a great tool to help us get there."

To measure technological advancement in each city, the Muni Index employs four metrics: average download speeds for households in a zip code or county, share of households with a desktop/laptop computer, share of households with broadband subscriptions, and percent of households with only a cellular plan and no other subscription. But access to technology alone does not automatically have a positive impact on a city's score; the extent to which digital inequities persist also matters. For example, the share of households with "cell only" access has a much greater negative impact on a city's score than greater speeds have a positive impact.

"Cities bring different assets to the table in fostering people's capacity to use digital tools to improve their lives. This index shines a light on cities' relative strengths and weaknesses as they embark on improving constituents' digital readiness. Users will not only understand levels of tech adoption, but also how they interact with other social challenges, such as housing affordability and a history of residential segregation," said Dr. John B. Horrigan, senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and designer of the index.

The Muni Index is based on the premise that expansion in the availability, affordability, adoption, and quality of digital tools is essential to building a strong foundation for a vibrant and growing city. Yet digital access alone will not lead to better outcomes. The Muni Index demonstrates that how cities invest in technology works jointly alongside other factors that influence quality of life. It is this leverage of technology toward prosperity that defines Digital Advancement.

"Digital advancement aims to promote a genuinely inclusive digital economy, of which the impacts can be measured well beyond technology metrics. Access affects all facets of life today, from healthcare to education," said Laura Mueller-Soppart, program director at Centri Tech Foundation and co-designer of the index.

The insights drawn from the Muni Index, which is based on publicly available data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Microsoft broadband usage data, invite users to explore the relationships between a range of factors. For example, ensuring children have health insurance has a strong impact on a city's index score. Furthermore, cities with lower rates of residential segregation and a higher share of foreign-born residents have significantly higher-than-average scores.

By design, all indicators chosen for the index impact a city's overall score and none of the indicators are weighted. The mission of the Muni Index is to offer decision-makers a tool that helps shape holistic strategies that can deliver the greatest positive impact for city residents and regional neighbors.

"As the historic federal investments in broadband infrastructure and digital equity begin to open up, we're pleased to introduce the Muni Index as a resource for strategic planning," said Marta Urquilla, president of Centri Tech Foundation. "Cities and local coalitions have been working to address digital access, many long before the pandemic, and require added investment to expand their efforts. States are eager to collect data and develop competitive plans to attract federal dollars. The index offers a tool to help leaders maximize this once-in-a-lifetime investment, recognizing that digital advancement is essential to our shared prosperity."

Centri Tech Foundation's aim for the Muni Index is to leverage actionable data in service of its mission to promote an inclusive digital economy and achieve a future where everyone can fulfill their aspirations and thrive. The index is intended to facilitate the convening of stakeholders in building this future and set a baseline by which to study and measure progress. All the data that powers the tool is available for download to encourage research exercises to inform digital equity strategies throughout the U.S..

The Digital Advancement Municipal Index is an ongoing effort that is updated annually, as data sources permit. For more information and to provide feedback, visit

Methodology (2016-2019):
The Digital Advancement Municipal Index was developed using data from the American Community Survey and other sources to capture characteristics of 308 of the largest U.S. cities. The index is made up of 16 indicators, 4 each from the following categories: Technology, Socioeconomics, Education, and Housing. The mean of each indicator is normalized to 100. The category scores are composed by taking the mean of the four indicators within each category. A city's total Digital Advancement score is composed by taking the mean of all four of its category scores.

For the full methodology, visit

About Centri Tech Foundation
Centri Tech Foundation (CTF), along with a network of community development partners, seeks to connect low-income people to high-quality connectivity in the home and to resources that improve economic, health and livelihood outcomes in the digital economy. We believe digital advancement is a civil right. To achieve a sustainable future, one where everyone can fulfill their aspirations and thrive, requires an inclusive digital economy. Learn more at and follow @centritechfdn on social media.

About John B. Horrigan:
John B. Horrigan, PhD, is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Dr. Horrigan has also been a senior advisor to the Urban Libraries Council and a senior fellow to the Technology Policy Institute. Additionally, he has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center, where he focused on libraries and their impact on communities, as well as technology adoption patterns and open government data. During the Obama Administration, Dr. Horrigan served on the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan.

Contact: Connie Jones, (850) 519-2912

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“Natural immunity” from omicron is weak and limited, study finds

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against…



SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against other variants, according to a new study by researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF), published today in the journal Nature.

Credit: Photo: Michael Short/Gladstone Institutes

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against other variants, according to a new study by researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF), published today in the journal Nature.

In experiments using mice and blood samples from donors who were infected with Omicron, the team found that the Omicron variant induces only a weak immune response. In vaccinated individuals, this response—while weak—helped strengthen overall protection against a variety of COVID-19 strains. In those without prior vaccination, however, the immune response failed to confer broad, robust protection against other strains.

“In the unvaccinated population, an infection with Omicron might be roughly equivalent to getting one shot of a vaccine,” says Melanie Ott, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and co-senior author of the new work. “It confers a little bit of protection against COVID-19, but it’s not very broad.”

“This research underscores the importance of staying current with your vaccinations, even if you have previously been infected with the Omicron variant, as you are still likely vulnerable to re-infection,” says co-senior author Jennifer Doudna, PhD, who is a senior investigator at Gladstone, a professor at UC Berkeley, founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

A Weaker Infection

As the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 spread around the globe in late 2021 and early 2022, anecdotal evidence quickly mounted that it was causing less severe symptoms than Delta and other variants of concern. However, scientists weren’t initially sure why that was, or how a weaker infection might impact long-term immunity against COVID-19.

“When the Omicron variant first emerged, a lot of people wondered whether it could essentially act as a vaccine for people who didn’t want to get vaccinated, eliciting a strong and broad-acting immune response,” says Irene Chen, co-first author of the new study and graduate student in Ott’s lab. Other first authors are Rahul Suryawanshi, PhD, a Gladstone staff research scientist, and Tongcui Ma, PhD, scientist in the Roan Lab at Gladstone.

To find the answer, the team of researchers first examined the effect of Omicron in mice. Compared to an ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Delta variant, Omicron led to far fewer symptoms in the mice. However, the virus was detected in airway cells, albeit at lower levels. Similarly, Omicron was able to infect isolated human cells but replicated less than other variants.

The team then characterized the immune response generated by Omicron infections. In mice infected with Omicron, despite the milder symptoms, the immune system still generated the T cells and antibodies typically seen in response to other viruses.

“We demonstrated in this study that the lower pathogenicity of Omicron is not because the virus cannot take hold,” says Nadia Roan, PhD, an associate investigator at Gladstone.

That leaves other reasons that might explain why Omicron differs from other variants in terms of symptoms and immunity, including the lower replication seen with Omicron or the types of antibodies that the immune system generates in response to the virus.

No Cross-Variant Protection

To gauge how the immune response against Omicron fared over time, the researchers collected blood samples from mice infected with the ancestral, Delta, or Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 and measured the ability of their immune cells and antibodies to recognize five different viral variants—ancestral (WA1), Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron.

Blood from uninfected animals was unable to neutralize any of the viruses—in other words, block the ability of any of the viruses to copy themselves. Samples from WA1-infected animals could neutralize Alpha and, to a lesser degree, the Beta and Delta virus—but not Omicron. Samples from Delta-infected mice could neutralize Delta, Alpha and, to a lesser degree, the Omicron and Beta virus.

However, blood from Omicron-infected mice could only neutralize the Omicron variant.

The team confirmed these results using blood from ten unvaccinated people who had been infected with Omicron—their blood was not able to neutralize other variants. When they tested blood from 11 unvaccinated people who had been infected with Delta, the samples could neutralize Delta and, as had been seen in mice, the other variants to a lesser extent.

When they repeated the experiments with blood from vaccinated people, the results were different: vaccinated individuals with confirmed Omicron or Delta breakthrough infections all showed the ability to neutralize all the tested variants, conferring higher protection.

“When it comes to other variants that might evolve in the future, we can’t predict exactly what would happen, but based on these results, I’d suspect that unvaccinated people who were infected with Omicron will have very little protection,” says Ott. “But on the contrary, vaccinated individuals are likely to be more broadly protected against future variants, especially if they had a breakthrough infection.”

“Our results may be useful not only to inform individuals’ decisions on vaccination, but also for the design of future COVID-19 vaccines that confer broad protection against many variants,” says Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, a professor of infectious diseases at UCSF and a co-senior author of the work.


About the Research Project

The paper “Limited Cross-Variant Immunity after Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Without Vaccination” was published in the journal Nature on May 18, 2022.

Other authors are Abdullah Syed, Camille Simoneau, Alison Ciling, Mir Khalid, Bharath Sreekumar, Pei-Yi Chen, Renuka Kumar, Mauricio Montano, Ronne Gascon, Frank Soveg, Ashley George, and Warner Greene of Gladstone; Noah Brazer, Prachi Saldhi, Miguel Garcia-Knight, Alicia Sotomayor-Gonzalez, Venice Servillita, Amelia Gliwa, Jenny Nguyen, Xiaohui Fang, Mazharul Maishan, Michael Matthay, and Raul Andino of UCSF; and Ines Silva, Bilal Milbes, Noah Kojima, Victoria Hess, Maria Shacreaw, Lauren Lopez, Matthew Brobeck, Fred Turner, and Lee Spraggon of Curative, Inc.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants F31 AI164671-01, U54HL147127 and R21AI59666), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (PDF-533021-2019), the Roddenberry Foundation, Pamela and Edward Taft, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Van Auken Private Foundation, David Henke, Emergent Ventures at the Mercatus Center (Fast Grants #2164 and #2208), George Mason University, the Innovative Genomics Institute, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (75D30121C10991), Abbott Laboratories, and the Sandler Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research at UCSF.

About Gladstone Institutes

To ensure our work does the greatest good, Gladstone Institutes focuses on conditions with profound medical, economic, and social impact—unsolved diseases. Gladstone is an independent, nonprofit life science research organization that uses visionary science and technology to overcome disease. It has an academic affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco.

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