Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home sales fall 23% in April

The Business Review (Albany,NY)

Richard A. D'Errico

Home sales in the Albany, N.Y., region continued their downward slide in April although there are signs buyers are being drawn back into the real estate market.
Closed sales of new and existing homes and condos tumbled 23 percent during the month and the median price fell 3 percent to $180,000, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to preliminary figures released by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

The biggest drop in closed sales happened in Saratoga County, which has the highest prices of the six counties where most of the activity occurs. Sales plummeted 30 percent compared to April 2008, down to 138 closings during the month.

Year-over-year sales in April fell 27 percent in Rensselaer County, 23 percent in Montgomery County, 17 percent in Albany County and 11 percent in Schenectady County. Sales increased 13 percent in Schoharie County.

The results on a month-over-month basis were better. Compared to March, sales in the region were up 13 percent in April and the median sale price was up 1.5 percent.

When new homes are excluded from the total, sales of single-family homes in the Albany region fell 22 percent in April and the median sale price fell 3 percent, to $170,000, compared to the same month in 2008.

Nationally, sales of existing homes fell 3.5 percent in April and the median sale price fell 15.4 percent, to $170,200, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.

On a month-to-month basis, sales of existing homes nationally increased 2.9 percent in April, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.68 million units.

Since it takes two to three months for a sales contract to proceed to a closing, the April numbers generally represent activity in January and February, when many buyers were on the sidelines, concerned about the economy.

Many real estate agents have said they noticed an uptick in calls and attendance at open houses in March and April as first-time buyers were drawn back into the market by the low prices and a new, $8,000 federal tax credit. The warmer spring weather can also be a tonic for the winter blues.

Whether that increased activity translates into closed sales remains to be seen. GCAR Chief Executive Officer James Ader said the sales report that’s compiled in July and released in August will provide a good reading on how the spring market fared.

Ader also noted that first-time buyers who want to take advantage of the federal tax credit must close on their purchase by Nov. 30, which means they need to sign a sales contract two to three months earlier.

The change in median prices in April for the six counties where most GCAR sales occur were as follows:

Albany County: $196,000, up 2 percent
Rensselaer County: $170,800, down 2 percent
Saratoga County: $225,800, down 5 percent
Schenectady County: $159,000, up 10 percent
Schoharie County: $150,000, down 9 percent
Montgomery County: $123,300, up 26 percent

Bloggers Note: This drop in the Capital Districts home sales could be due in large part to the fact that NY has the highest taxes of all U.S. states, and is driving many to relocate their homes and businesses to other states.

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