Capital Region

Capital Region housing sales ‘holding steady’

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CAPITAL REGION — Despite a big drop in sales this spring, nearly as many houses have been sold in the greater Capital Region so far in 2020 as in the same period of 2019.

The trade association for area real estate agents said closed sales were down just 3% in January through September 2020 as compared with 2019.

Sales have continued at an elevated rate in October, when they normally begin to slow down as winter approaches. September’s pending sales — transactions agreed upon but not completed — were 27% higher this year than last.

“Our numbers are still holding steady, our median sales prices are still going up,” Laura Burns, CEO of the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, said Monday. “I think it would be even more if there was some inventory there.”

That’s the one metric that is down significantly compared with last year: 12% fewer new listings so far in 2020.

The defining event this year, in residential real estate as in so much of the economy, has been the COVID-19 pandemic. First it caused a massive slowdown in sales. Then it changed the profile of who is buying.

The evidence is mostly anecdotal, Burns said, but enough Realtors are reporting that downstate residents are buying houses in the greater Capital Region that GCAR is planning to modify its statistical database so it can track the current ZIP code of homebuyers.

“I think it’s that people are still coming to this region from the south,” Burns said, describing a ripple effect pushing north from New York City as people with enough money and enough frustration or fear move out or buy second homes.

“Westchester is pretty expensive,” she said. “So you get into the Hudson Valley, which is more affordable. So those folks down there are selling and coming up here.”

In the larger picture, New York State Association of Realtors statistics show this geographic split: For the third quarter of 2020, the number of closed sales was down substantially in the four reporting counties of New York City (27% to 47%) and down less significantly in Long Island counties (11% and 13%).

New York City’s neighbors to the north, Rockland and Westchester counties, saw small increases in closed sales in the third quarter but there were larger increases in every other county in the Hudson Valley: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam and Ulster.

Delaware and Sullivan counties in the Catskill Mountain region both saw huge third-quarter jumps in number of closed sales and in median sale price. The Adirondack region — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer and Warren counties — saw increases in closed sales ranging from 7% to 130% and increases in median sales price ranging from 4% to 67%. The exception was St. Lawrence County, the farthest removed from New York City, which saw a 9% increase in median price but a 10% drop in closed sales.

GCAR draws its statistics from the organization’s Global Multiple Listing Service, which handles many but not all of the residential real estate listings in Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties, as well as some listings in surrounding counties.

It’s a seller’s market in the Capital Region — 3,930 houses were listed for sale in September 2020 vs. 6,212 in September 2019. Most homeowners won’t put their house on the market unless they are relocating or have somewhere in mind to move, and apparently a lot of homeowners here don’t have either option or inclination, Burns explained.

Some GCAR statistics for the first nine months of 2020 and the percentage change from the same period of 2019:

  • 13,978 new listings, -11.7%
  • 11,006 pending sales, +7.5%
  • 9,018 closed sales, -3.3%
  • 63 average days on market, +3.3%
  • $225,000 median sale price, +4.7%
  • 96% of original price received, +0.6 percentage points
  • 4,478 average houses for sale, -24.8%
  • $135,000 median pricetag for 297 houses sold in Schenectady vs. $396,000 median pricetag for 268 houses sold in Saratoga Springs, the least- and most-expensive housing markets reported individually by GCAR

Some factoids for July through September 2020:

  • By price range, the biggest jump in sales (+34.4%) was in houses priced higher than $400,000.
  • The biggest dip in sales (-11.5%) was for houses priced under $125,001.
  • New houses costing more than $400,000 also commanded the highest premium: 109% of original asking price.
  • Sales of newly constructed houses jumped 28.3% while resales of existing houses were up only 5.1%.
  • The category with the greatest increase in sales (+62.8%) was new townhome units.

The number of closed sales and the median price in Capital Region counties in the first nine months of 2020, with percentage change from 2019:

  • Albany County — 2,044 (-8%) $236,000 (+3%)
  • Fulton County — 412 (+19%) $133,148 (+9%)
  • Montgomery County — 206 (-8%) $132,000 (+15%)
  • Rensselaer County — 1,067 (-4%) $209,500 (+9%)
  • Saratoga County — 2,163 (-8%) $309,000 (+3%)
  • Schenectady County — 1,241 (-5%) $184,000 + (+5%)
  • Schoharie County — 215 (+3%) $150,000 (+20%)

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