Grim statistics continue to dog the Capital Region housing market, as year-to-date single family home sales released on Thursday continued to plummet in August.
The Greater Capital Association of Realtors reported a 28 percent tumble in total sales from the figures recorded last year. Average and median sales prices in the six-county area remained stagnant at around $194,900.
Laurene Curtin, the association’s president, blamed much of the decrease on the positive effect that the homebuyer’s tax credit from the spring had on the market. The credit expired in April and has since had a cooling effect on the robust sales seen during the summer.
“But we would have expected to see more activity in the market,” she said. “Interest rates are very low, housing costs have steadied and are showing signs of appreciation to come, but buyers are not moving into the market as strongly as we would have anticipated.”
There was some optimism in the association’s third-quarter figures. Though the year-to-date sales in 2010 were still down by about 10 percent, the number of closings was up 4 percent.
Jim Ader, the association’s chief executive officer, said the increase could be a sign the market is on the rebound. Anecdotally, he said, many of the association’s 2,900 members are busier now than over the summer.
“We have that feeling that the market is recovering,” he said.
Home sales in Schenectady County dipped precipitously, with total residential sales dropping by about 34 percent when compared to August 2009, according to the association’s figures. The number of sales closing in August dropped by 45 percent throughout the county, though the average sale price increased slightly.
Schenectady County home sales are down by 13 percent so far this year. However, the median sales price of $157,000 represented a 3 percent increase.
But despite the woes of the Capital Region market as a whole, Saratoga County showed signs of vitality. Closed sales are up 11 percent so far in 2010, with the average residential sale price increasing by 5 percent and the median residential sales price increasing by 4 percent.
In contrast, Montgomery County’s median and average sales prices tumbled by 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively, this year. The county also saw a 57 percent drop in August sales when compared to the figures recorded in 2009.
Despite the figures, the association is urging prospective homebuyers to take another look at the real estate market, considering the attractiveness of short-term interest rates. Curtin said the time to purchase a home is now, since the Capital Region is experiencing the “best market buyers have seen in many years.”
“We think they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the home-buying power of their dollars in the Capital Region,” she said.