So much for the soft landing.
The housing slump and recession conspired last year to send home sales in the greater Capital Region to their lowest level in eight years. Closed single-family home sales tumbled 15 percent to 8,337 in 2008. And for the first time in 11 years, area home values gave ground an annual basis, with the median sale price last year slipping 1 percent to $191,000, according to statistics released Monday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.
Monday’s announcement caps a new low for the region’s housing market, but sales results for December suggest the worst is far from over and home values are losing their resiliency to downward pressures.
As banks clamped down on lending and unemployment locally shot up to 5.9 percent, the region experienced one of its most severe monthly pricing corrections. The area’s median sale price for December was $182,500, down 6 percent from a year earlier. During the same period, home sales fell 17 percent to 587.
Sales regionwide fell to their lowest level since 2000, when they totaled 8,243. The area also saw its first annual decline in its median sale price since 1997, when values slumped 1 percent to $110,600, according to GCAR statistics.
Looking for a bright spot in the annual results, GCAR President Marie Bettini said, “While the market is certainly less active than we would hope, it is still a very stable market during this time of economic uncertainty.” Supporting Bettini’s statement about stability, Forbes magazine earlier this month named the Albany area as the nation’s 21st most stable housing market. The Forbes report, conducted by MoodysEconomy.com, projected local home values to be flat in 2009, and they would bottom out in 2010 by dropping 3 percent.