Home prices slide 9 percent over past year

After many months of bucking national trends, the recession and the mortgage crisis, Capital Region
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After many months of bucking national trends, the recession and the mortgage crisis, Capital Region home prices have begun to plunge, new sales data show.

The median sale price for a home in the Capital Region dropped 9 percent year-over-year in January, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, a Colonie-based trade organization.

The median sales price dropped from $192,500 in January 2008 to $175,500 last month. Not counting new home sales, the value of resold homes in the region also dropped in median price by 9 percent, from $181,000 in January 2008 to $165,000 last month.

The decline follows a long stretch in which the number of sales decreased in the Capital Region but the price held fairly steady, a marked contrast to national statistics, which showed both sales and prices declining.

“There is no question that the level of activity in our Capital Region market has been far below what we would characterize as busy,” GCAR President Sandra Nardoci said. “We note that for the first month of 2009 prices have dropped back by 2 percent average and 9 percent median. While this would appear to be bad news, it might just end up being the impetus to start the market moving again.”

Even with the decline, Capital Region prices still fared better than national median home prices. According to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors, the median home price in the United States in January dropped to $170,300, down 15 percent from a year earlier.

GCAR’s 2008 report showed area home values on an annual basis had dropped only 1 percent, to $191,000, but it was the first annual drop in 11 years. Now a greater price correction appears to be taking place.

Saratoga and Rensselaer counties, both down 12 percent, led the decline in median sales price while median prices in Montgomery County increased 9 percent and median prices in Schoharie County were up 14 percent. However, total home sales were also dramatically down in those two counties. Only nine homes were sold in Schoharie County in January, down 31 percent from last year, and only six were sold in Montgomery County, a 60 percent decrease.

Monthly total home sales for the Capital Region were also down, at 475, a 24 percent decline from 623 in January 2008. Saratoga County led the way with 50 fewer January home sales than last year, a 28 percent decrease. But Saratoga County still had the highest total home sales for the month, 126. Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties all experienced double-digit decreases in home sales.

Forbes magazine in January named the Albany area the nation’s 21st most stable housing market. The Forbes report, conducted by MoodysEconomy.com, projected local home values would be flat in 2009 and would hit bottom with a 3 percent drop in 2010.

That more rosy projection could still come true if the $8,000 redeemable tax credit for new home buyers included in President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package has the effect of increasing home sales.

“While the market is slow, and while prices have backed off a bit, these two circumstances added to the $8,000 tax credit available for first-time buyers creates an atmosphere of great opportunity,” GCAR CEO James Ader said. “And that first-time buyer gives a current homeowner the chance to sell their property and purchase their next home, creating activity on the housing ladder.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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