The federal home buyer tax credit pushed Capital Region housing sales to increase 14 percent in January over Janaury 2009, the Greater Capital Region Association of Realtors said this morning.
“There are a number of happenings which have affected the number of closings. One of these is the rush we saw last November to close as many deals as possible to allow first-time home buyers to take advantage of the then soon-to-end tax credit. So that affected closings for the next several months. Now that the tax credit has been extended until April 30, 2010 as deadline contract date and June 30, 2010 as a deadline closing date we may see the same affect mid-year,” said GCAR chief executive officer Jim Ader, in the announcement.
January 2010 Capital Region home sales and values
County; Sales; %Change from ’09; Price; %Change from ‘09
Albany, 138, +15%; $184,000, -8%
Fulton, 11, 0%; $95,700, -4.3%
Montgomery, 11, +84%; $133,000, +32%
Rensselaer, 72, -4%; $159,500, +3%
Saratoga, 147, +17%; $249,100, +11%
Schenectady, 88, +11%; $159,500, +6%
Schoharie, 16, +78%; $132,500, +6%
Source: Greater Capital Region Association of Realtors
Ader also said the tax credit, which includes 10 percent of the home purchase price for a maximum of $8,000, affected the average and median price of homes sold. Repeat buyers get a $6,500 tax break with the extended version of the credit that expires in a few months.
“As many, perhaps most, first-time buyers are looking at homes in the mid-to-lower price range that will cause sales prices to appear lower than otherwise. And our members report that the more expensive market is, and has been for some time, the slowest part of the market in the Capital Region.” Ader said.
Total new construction and resales for homes in the area rose to 541 in January from 475 a year ago. Home values also held steady over the year, staying relatively the same at $172,300. Last year, the median sales price was $173,000.
Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie and Montgomery counties all saw sales and home values rise in January. Fulton County’s home sales saw neither an increase or decrease over the year at 11 in January while home values fell 4.3 percent to $95,700.
In Albany County, residential sales were up 15 percent over the year, but the median value of a home fell 8 percent to 184,000. In Rensselaer County, home sales fell 4 percent but home values rose 3 percent to $159,500.
“The housing market has begun 2010 with similar results shown a year ago in January 2009. Closed sales are down by 2 percent from a year ago but the more positive news is that, for the seventh consecutive month, contracts of sale have increased from the previous year. This is important because it measures, in part, the mood of the home buying public and the willingness of home sellers to negotiate pricing,” GCAR president Laurene Curtin said. “The increase in pending sales should show up later on as these contracts move towards transfer of title.”
The Mortgage Bankers Association of Northeastern New York said home buyers now have less than 90 days to negotiate and sign a purchase contact by the April 30 to take advantage of the federal tax credit for home buyers.
Joseph Culver, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Northeastern New York said lending levels in the Capital Region for January and early February remained steady.
In a recent survey, Capital Region lenders said 15-year fixed conforming loans are holding in the 4.5 percent range for a zero-point loan and that 30-year fixed conforming loans were slightly higher in February at 5.5 percent.
“The low interest rates continue to spur refinance lending activity, which now average over 60 percent of lenders pipelines, while home purchase loans account for the remaining 30-plus percent,” Culver said.