Local home sales continue free fall

Home buyers moved cautiously through November as businesses hemorrhaged jobs and the stock market ob
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Home buyers moved cautiously through November as businesses hemorrhaged jobs and the stock market obliterated wealth, contributing to a 32 percent drop in sales for the month in the greater Capital Region.

Closed single-family houses regionwide plunged in November to 539 from 788 a year earlier, continuing the local market’s free fall. During the same period, the region’s median sale price rose 3 percent to $192,000, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

November’s deeper-than-usual slump was starkest in the region’s rural areas, with Rensselaer and Schoharie counties both posting 41 percent declines in sales while Montgomery County sales fell 52 percent. Last month, only 12 homes sold in Montgomery County, and their median sale price was down 33 percent at $65,800.

Schenectady County eked through the month without sustaining substantial losses as sales slipped 9 percent to 107 and the median sale price held steady at $156,400. Home values also remained flat in Albany County at $200,000, though sales there fell 20 percent to 149.

GCAR President Marie Bettini cheered local home values’ resiliency in the face of declining sales, saying “The strength of our market is shown by the statistics indicating that the median price of a home … is unchanged from 2007.”

The slowdown in sales activity nationwide last month was less pronounced than the region’s, falling 8.8 percent to 4.02 million from a year earlier. But during that period, the U.S. median sale price dropped 12.8 percent to $180,800, according to statistics also released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

“The quickly deteriorating conditions in the job market, stock market and consumer confidence in October and November have knocked home sales to another level,” NAR Senior Economist Lawrence Yun said.

U.S. employers last month cut 533,000 million jobs in November — the largest monthly reduction since 1974. The Albany area’s labor force also failed to grow from October to November for the first time since 1992, as businesses trimmed staffs or closed facilities and retailers curbed holiday season hiring. Unemployment in the region is rose to a 16-year high for November at 5.2 percent.

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