"Home Sales Increasing in the Capital District"
It’s a buyer’s market, local realtors say, and statistics seem to back them up. But 2012 has started off on a markedly more active note for sales than this time last year.
Capital District single-family home sales was 10 percent higher in January 2012 than in January 2011, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.
The number of actual sales was highest in Saratoga County — 152 compared to 129. The number of new listings was highest as well, 350 compared to 315 the prior January.
In Saratoga County, total sales jumped 18 percent — new construction and resale — while actual closings shot up 29 percent, with the median sale price increasing 8 percent from $229,900 to $248,000, in the month-to-month comparison.
The neighboring county increases were 20 percent in Rensselaer, 30 percent in Schenectady, 32 percent in Albany and 10 percent in Montgomery.
“People are jumping back in the game,” said Thomas Roohan, owner of Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs. “The stock market went over 13,000 points this week. You still see continued record-low interest rates. You can borrow money for a 10-year term, fixed, at 3.25 percent. Unemployment is at its lowest point in a long time and retail spending is up. People are just more comfortable about buying.
“We’re very bullish on 2012.”
The realtors’ association is a trade organization representing 2,700 real estate professionals in the capital region. Many are seeing activity pick up nearly two months ahead of schedule.
“People have been on the sidelines a long time,” Roohan said. “Things are going to change.”
Roohan said the greatest spurt he’s seen is in the sale of upper-end homes.
“We just closed on a house Thursday with people who moved here from the Carolinas to be closer to family,” he said. “It had been someone’s second home and they weren’t using it as much as they had planned on.”
The 29 percent increase in Saratoga County closings (115 vs. 89) is a dramatic change from the 21 percent downturn from January 2010 to January 2011 (113 vs. 89).
In the past year, residential listings grew 11 percent in Saratoga County, from 315 to 350.
“As we look at results from January we are encouraged in what we see,” said Nina Amadon, president of the GCAR in a released statement. “But we also must remember this is just a one-month sample of the market. If this is a trend, perhaps after another two months of similar reports, then we will have a real cause for optimism.”
Amadon said the number reflects closed sales from 2011, which resulted from contracts of sales late in 2011.
“The real number which we like to see is the 26 percent increase in the number of properties which went under contract during January,” she said. “These ‘pending’ sales are a mark of the market during January and a 26 percent increase from last January is very encouraging.”
“That 26 percent under contract in January alone is huge,” said Karen Westman, manager of Prudential Manor Homes in North Greenbush. “The average sale price right now in Rensselaer County on single family homes is $181,777 compared to $168,539 last year this time.”
However, findings showed that the average capital region sale price of a single-family home this January was $201,197, a 2 percent decrease from January 2011 when the price was $204,968.
In Saratoga Springs, there were two more closings this January compared to last, but the median sale price dipped slightly from $310,000 to $305,000 and there were 16 fewer new listings (42 vs. 58 in 2011).
In Clifton Park, however, the median sale price rose 19.3 percent from $251,500 to $298,908.
The report said there were 434 residential closings in the capital region this January, compared to 393 in 2011 — a 10 percent increase.
Homes are also on the market fewer days now before they’re sold. For example, in 2011, a home was listed for about 123 days before it would sell and in 2012 that number decreased to 119 days.
In Rensselaer County, the average selling price of homes on the market is $178,880 and they are listed for an average of 111 days.
“From what I’m seeing, things are definitely on the upswing,” Westman said. “We’re still not seeing too much activity with high-end homes, but homes with an average selling price of $150,000 to $250,000 are getting multiple offers. We had three this week in this office.”
Multiple offers on homes were the norm at the height of the market four years ago, but not something realtors have seen too often in the recent past.
Pricing, location and school districts are still the primary factors driving the real estate market in Albany County, said Licensed Sales Associate Christopher Culihan of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties in Loudonville.
“This year’s sales are off to a great start despite a negative political climate and soaring gas prices,” he said. “I think the weather has helped out a lot. Buyers are starting the spring market a little sooner and the retail numbers from the holiday really helped.”
December and January historically tend to be slow months for sales in the real estate market, but this year has been different, Culihan noted.
“We met our sales goal for February in this office with 30 sales. We have 25 agents and activity has been a lot busier here than normal,” he said.
Culihan said he has a handful of clients he’s currently working with who are gearing up to put their homes on the market in the spring.
Homes in Albany County are selling fastest in communities with the most sought-after school districts, including North Colonie, Bethlehem, Guilderland and Voorheesville.
“I think it’s going to be a good year for our industry,” said Culihan.