Homebuyer tax credit helps drive sales spike in Capital Region housing market

The Capital Region housing market improved in March, as the number of listings, purchase contracts a

The Capital Region housing market improved in March, as the number of listings, purchase contracts and closed sales all increased, the Greater Capital Association of Realtors said Thursday.

For existing single family homes, there were 506 closed sales in March, up 17 percent from March 2009. The median value was $167,800, down 1 percent from March 2009.

For new construction as well as resales, the median value in March was $174,800, down 3 percent from a year ago. Closed sales grew 12 percent, to 548 from 489. Contracts of sale, when the buyer and seller agree on price, increased 21 percent, to 834 from 689.

The number of residential listings also saw a boost, jumping 25 percent, to 1,780 from 1,425.

The totals include a handful of sales outside the six counties GCAR counts as the Capital Region.

GCAR President Laurene Curtin said home buyers in the Capital Region returned to the market in the first quarter as a result of both the federal homebuyer tax credits and an overall improvement in the economy. To date, the number of closed sales for 2010 is up 13 percent compared with 2009.

“We aren’t able to quantify the impact of the tax credits as only IRS has those figures but our membership tells us that it has certainly been significant,” Curtin said in a statement. “With the tax credit ending in a few days — April 30 — the next months will give us a clearer look at whether or not the market can continue to grow even without that added incentive.”

The IRS said earlier this month that as of April 8, more than 60,000 New Yorkers had taken advantage of the tax credit, collecting more than $409 million.

GCAR CEO Jim Ader said in the short term, sales will slow down over the next few months, due to the number of homebuyers who worked hard to put together a purchase contract before the April 30 deadline.

“Many of these are buyers who would in the normal course of business have gone to contract in May, perhaps even June so the sales those months might well be down,” Ader said. “But we think that the market has started to rebound to the point that we will see an improving atmosphere for and activity among buyers as we move into the summer and fall.”

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