Schenectady County sees improvement in housing market
CAPITAL REGION Sales of existing residential homes spiked in Schenectady County during September, when compared to the same month in 2012.
The increase outpaced the percentage change in all five other Capital Region counties.
Schenectady County saw 28 additional existing homes change ownership last month for a total bump of 32 percent over the 88 residential properties moved in September 2012, according to figures released by the Greater Capital Region Association of Realtors on Monday. The county’s total sales — including new home construction — were up 26 percent over those recorded during the same time last year.
Rensselaer County’s 15 percent jump in total residential sales was the only one close to the jump Schenectady County witnessed last month. The Capital Region’s six counties only saw a 6 percent change between September sales in 2012 and 2013.
Schenectady County has also seen a boost in new residential listings. The county’s 240 homes for sale were up 32 percent over the new listings put on the market in September 2012.
But the news for Schenectady County isn’t all good. Though the market is robust, the average and median sale price of homes in Schenectady County declined in September when compared to last year’s figures.
The average sale price of existing homes was flat at about $180,000, while the median sale price dropped $13,500 to $160,000 — an 8 percent decline. The median sales price for new and existing homes dropped from $179,000 in September 2012 to $162,200 last month, a drop of 9 percent.
Schenectady County’s total sales in 2013 are up 12 percent over last year at this time. But the average and median sale prices are down 3 percent and 2 percent respectively.
The figures released by the association seem to accurately reflect what area real estate agents are seeing. Doreen Ross of Doreen Ross Associates said September was a very busy month for her company, even if the homes being sold didn’t fetch higher prices.
“The prices are very flat,” she said. “In that same token, there have been more people out there looking and more sales.”
Ross said a motivating factor for buyers has been rumors that federal interest rates could be increased in the near future. She said many prospective buyers are trying to cash in on the near historic low interest rates before they start to increase.
“A lot of people who were on the fence are saying the prices are still low and the interest rates are still low, so we better make a move now before its too late,” she said.
And in Schenectady County, rising rents could be the last straw for some considering home ownership. Ross said rents around the county have been steadily increasing over the past 15 months, meaning home ownership is getting more and more attractive for some.
“I think they’ll continue to go up too,” she said.
Marcia Quick, a real estate broker at Veronica Lynch, said she’s also had customers that have entered the market because of the increased cost of renting in the county. With reasonable home prices and plenty of homes to choose from, she said, the local market is starting look attractive to buyers.
“The sellers are being more realistic with what they can get for their home and are pricing them appropriately,” she said.
Quick said her prospective home buyers are also expecting homes that are in decent shape as opposed to those that need work. She said the demand for homes that need work has diminished amid the buyer’s market.
“Buyers don’t want to do as much as they used to,” she said.
Jim Ader, the chief executive officer of the association, cautioned that Schenectady County’s performance in September likely won’t continue. In general, he said, the Capital Region housing market doesn’t typically vary greatly from county to county.
“It is really a regional market,” he said. “Over the course of the year, every county is going to come out pretty much the same.”
Ader said the Capital Region as a whole continues to have a robust market with prices that appear on track to outpace the consumer price index. He said this is a good sign for the area housing market.
“Our market is pretty good,” he said, “It’s a good market, it’s an active market, and there are buyers and sellers. My members are busy.”