Home sales growth persists throughout region

August home sales figures indicate the Capital Region is continuing its climb toward a healthy housi

August home sales figures indicate the Capital Region is continuing its climb toward a healthy housing market, a trend that mirrors two reports out Wednesday that show sales, prices and confidence are also on the rise nationwide.

Schenectady County experienced the region’s largest increase in August home sales compared to last year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. Closed sales were up 45 percent, from 104 in August 2011 to 151 in August 2012, causing some real estate agents to speculate whether a citywide open house initiative is finally resulting in closed sales.

Albany and Saratoga counties also experienced year-over-year increases in finalized sales last month.

“It is safe to say that our regional housing market is performing better and better as we move forward and that we expect this to continue on into 2013,” said local Realtors group President Nina Amadon in a news release.

Closed sales for an 11-county region that includes the Capital District increased 13 percent in August from the same time last year. Pending sales increased at the same rate, and median sale price also rose 4 percent in the same period.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a jump in sales of previously occupied homes and further gains in home construction suggest the U.S. housing market is also gaining momentum. Sales of previously occupied homes rose 7.8 percent from July to August, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million — the highest level since May 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The association also reported that builders broke ground on 2.3 percent more homes and apartments from July to August, and that homes aren’t sitting on the market as long. The median amount of time a home spent on the market one year ago was 92 days. In August, the timeframe had shrunk to 70 days.

The 45 percent jump in closed sales in Schenectady County can be attributed to a number of possible factors, including the regular open houses held in Schenectady as part of the Key to the City program that was launched in September 2011. No one affiliated with the program would say it directly contributed to the countywide increase, since it’s executed solely in the city, but two KeyBank officials said the program is experiencing success.

At each open house, local officials greet potential buyers to talk up the city’s selling points. That, combined with new buyer incentives, has helped real estate agents walk away with offers.

“I don’t have exact figures, but I know that the percentages are definitely higher because of this program and because of the exposure of Schenectady and the marketing going on there,” said Mary D’Alessandro-Gilmore, an associate broker with Prudential Manor Homes.

Saratoga County had the next highest year-over-year increase in closed sales, with a 12 percent increase, from 234 to 261 sales.

Albany County closed sales increased 6 percent, from 215 homes sold in August 2011 to 227 sold last month.

Closed sales in Schoharie and Montgomery counties both decreased over the same period, but pending sales were up, along with the rest of the Capital Region, by 30 percent and 92 percent, respectively.

“We also are seeing an increase in sales prices,” said Amadon. “The median sales price [for the region] this August is 4 percent higher than a year ago.”

Area Realtors group CEO James Ader said local numbers from the first eight months of the year are showing overall improvement, as well.

“We feel we can say that the housing market has turned the corner after several poor performance years,” he said in the release.

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