March home sales continue to plummet in region

The housing slump in March continued to search for its bottom as sales in the greater Capital Region

The housing slump in March continued to search for its bottom as sales in the greater Capital Region fell by 26 percent, but home values kept moving against the sales current.

The region saw 564 closed single-family home sales last month, compared to 764 in March 2007, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. During the same period, the region’s median home value rose 3 percent to $185,000.

A combination of recession jitters, high energy costs and bad weather for months have impacted the area’s housing market. Sales for the first quarter were down 23 percent to 1,531, compared to the same period of 2007. The median home price for the first three months rose 3 percent to $190,000.

Although the region bucked the national trend of declining home prices, GCAR officials said buyers hold the cards when it comes to home transactions.

“Buyers currently hold a negotiating edge over sellers as fewer homes are transferring ownership and qualified buyers are a valuable commodity,” said GCAR President Marie Bettini.

Nationwide, March single-family home sales fell 18.4 percent to 4.35 million, compared to a year earlier. During that period, the nation’s single-family median sale price tumbled 8.3 percent to $198,200, according to statistics also released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun blamed March’s slowdown on tighter credit markets, which are preventing some homeowners from taking advantage of historically-low mortgage rates. The average going rate for a 30-year, fixed mortgage in March was 5.92 percent, compared to 6.16 percent a year earlier, according to the congressionally-chartered mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Despite sluggishness in March sales, Albany and Schenectady counties showed strong gains in prices, rising 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Although it consists of a small sales sample, Montgomery County posted a 32 percent monthly sales decline to 15. But it also saw a 50 percent price spike to $129,800.

The slump wrecked havoc in Rensselaer and Schoharie counties, which both saw monthly losses in sales and values. Only six houses sold in Schoharie county in March, down 67 percent from 18 a year ago. County home familes fell in March by 13 percen to $116,000.

Check back with for more on this story or reader Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Gazette.

Categories: Business, News

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