Sale prices, number of sales decline in region’s housing market

Sale prices as well as the number of closed sales in the Capital Region each declined by 6 percent i

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Sale prices as well as the number of closed sales in the Capital Region each declined by 6 percent in June compared with last year, even as more houses were listed and more people entered into contracts of sale, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

The number of closed residential sales dropped from 829 in June 2008 to 783 in June 2009 and median sale value went from $193,000 to $181,100.

Closed sales for the first six months of 2009 are down 21 percent compared with a year earlier.

But Realtors say there are signs the market is improving.

The reasons for optimism include a 2 percent increase in residential listings from 1,704 in June 2008 to 1,730 in June 2009 and the 8 percent uptick in contracts of sale, from 872 to 941.

“If we look at contracts of sale during June, the number of times buyers and sellers have agreed on a sale, and compare that to June of last year we see that number has increased by 8 percent,” said James Ader, GCAR’s chief executive officer. “And while we certainly can’t assume all these contracts will make their way to a closing we do see this as another sign of an improving market. We hope to see this trend continue.”

But the housing statistics for the region show prices are being cut to stimulate demand from buyers — and though that helped June’s closed sales improve, year-to-date closed sales are still negative compared with last year.

Within the region’s various counties, there was some variation.

In Saratoga County, June closed sales were up 9 percent, but median sale price was down 8 percent compared with last year, from $265,000 to $245,000. In Schenectady County, closed sales were up 15 percent, but median price was down 10 percent, from $161,500 to $146,000. In Schoharie County, closed sales increased 5 percent, but median price dropped 10 percent, from $143,800 to $130,000. In Montgomery County, closed sales were down 30 percent but the median price rose 1 percent from $120,000 to $121,300.

Some Realtors say slashing prices is part of the explanation — sellers may be willing to transfer ownership for lower values due to the economy woes.

“It’s a two-way street,” said Catherine Dobies, executive officer for the Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie Association of Realtors. “[The market] is on the rise. It’s going to rebound in the next couple of months.”

“With half of 2009 behind us we recognize that our market has been slower than it has been in a number of years. But my recent personal experience, and experiences that are shared by other agents, have shown that the market is improving; that first-time home buyers are active; and that in most instances well-priced properties are being shown,” said Sandra Nardoci, GCAR president. “We are pretty much all optimistic that these are signals of a return to a healthier, more active residential market as we move through 2009.”

Statewide, the median sale price of homes sold in June 2009 declined 10.8 percent compared with last year, from $213,000 to $189,900, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. The median price was a 2.8 percent increase from May’s $184,700.

The number of homes sold in New York state during June also saw a decrease of 6.5 percent, from 7,921 to 7,404, but an uptick of 30 percent from May.

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