Region’s home sales dip, prices remain steady

Homes sales nationwide snapped out of their long slide last month as sellers chopped their asking pr

Homes sales nationwide snapped out of their long slide last month as sellers chopped their asking prices, but in the greater Capital Region, where prices have barely budged, sales continued to decline.

Diverging from the U.S. housing market, the region posted 697 single-family home sales regionwide in September, down 13 percent from a year earlier. During the same period, the region’s median sale price declined 1 percent to $187,500, according to statistics released Friday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

For the first nine months of 2008, sales regionwide were down 15 percent at 6,276, compared with the same period of last year. For that period, the region’s median sale price was the same as a year earlier: $193,000.

GCAR’s monthly results ran contrary to those released Friday by the National Association of Realtors, which showed single-family home sales over the year increasing by 3,8 percent to 4.62 million. September’s U.S. results marked the first year-over-year sales increase since November 2005. Accompanying that uptick was an 8.6 percent year-over drop in the nation’s median sale price.

NAR officials attributed September’s sales gains to lower prices and interest rates, which started to pull more buyers into California markets several months ago. That trend spread to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island.

NAR President Richard Gaylord said the sales improvement “demonstrates that buyers who’ve been on the sidelines want to get into the market to make a long-term investment in their future.”

While NAR officials emphasized lower home values’ ability to grease sales, local Realtors highlighted local prices’ resilience to the economic downturn. GCAR President Marie Bettini said the Colonie trade organization is “happy to be able to report that equity remains consistent with the median price unchanged since 2007.” But GCAR Chief Executive Officer James Ader said “we would be very fortunate if local housing values continue to hold their own until a recovery in the economy.”

While home values last month gained ground in Albany and Schenectady counties, rising 6 percent and 7 percent respectively, pricing corrections swept through Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schoharie and Montgomery counties.

Saratoga County’s median sale price declined 7 percent to $247,600. A 37 percent decline hit Montgomery County, sending its median sale price to $86,850.

Housing statistics

A look at closed single-family home sales and median sale prices in the greater Capital Region for the first nine months of 2008 and 2007, respectively:

Regionwide: 6,276/7,412/-15%, $193,000/$193,000/0%

Albany County: 1,582/1,910/-17%, $205,000/$202,300/1%

Montgomery County: 159/185/-14%, $97,500/$100,400/-3%

Rensselaer County: 905/974/-7%, $174,000/$174,300/0%

Saratoga County: 1,663/1,957/-15%, $255,000/$257,000/-1%

Schenectady County: 980/1,194/-18%, $165,000/$162,750/1%

Schoharie County: 157/181/-13%, $137,000/$139,000/-1%

Source: Greater Capital Association of Realtors

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