Home sales and median price rise in north country last quarter

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS
36114 County Route 46,Theresa, NY 13691 is a cabin on the Indian River.

By MARCUS WOLF
MWOLF@WDT.NET

Waterfront property and multi-acre camp and farm purchases helped increase sales numbers and median prices in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties last quarter.

The fourth-quarter median price for homes increased from last year in Jefferson County by $12,550, or 9.1 percent, from $137,450 in 2015 to $150,000, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

The median price increased in Lewis County over the same period by $15,097, or 15 percent, from $103,500 to $118,597.

In St. Lawrence County, the median price increased from the fourth quarter in 2015 by $15,050, or 17.7 percent, from $85,000 to $100,050, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The number of units sold also increased from the fourth quarter last year by 40 units, or 24.5 percent, from 163 to 203.

Lance M. Evans, executive officer of both the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence county boards, said the number of foreclosures sold this quarter dropped, allowing sales of higher-priced waterfront homes to raise the median price.

Mr. Evans said real estate agents sold several farmland properties this quarter, adding that many homebuyers were interested in owning several acres of land for recreational farming or horse riding. Debra J. Gilson, president of the St. Lawrence Board of Realtors and a broker for County Seat Realty, said President Donald J. Trump’s initial proposal to lock interest rates on mortgages raised interest from prospective home buyers last quarter.

Brokers also sold a number of island properties, including Steamboat Island in Alexandria Bay, a 4,902-square-foot property, and riverfront properties along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

“I know I sold three waterfront properties in the last four months,” said Vickie L. Staie, who became president of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors on Jan. 1.

In addition to fewer foreclosure sales in Lewis County, Mr. Evans said the number of seasonal cottage sales with several acres in Lyonsdale and Martinsburg brought the median price up in the fourth quarter.

“Location, location, location,” he said.

The number of houses sold in Jefferson County increased by 44 units, or 17.7 percent, from 248 to 292. Lewis County home sales also increased by 6 units, or 10 percent, from 60 to 66 over the same period.

Ms. Staie said an influx of military consumers in Jefferson County and out-of-state residents in Lewis County raised both the median price and the number of units sold this quarter in both counties.

“This last quarter has just been amazing,” she said.

Compared to 2015, home sales for 2016 increased in Jefferson County by 143 units, or 16.6 percent, to 897, and in Lewis County by nine units, or 4.4 percent, from 203 to 212 units.

Mrs. Staie said several clients of her agency, Staie On the Seaway Real Estate Services LLC, were interested in purchasing larger homes in both Jefferson and Lewis counties throughout the year. She also said the Kraft-Heinz cream cheese plant expansion in Lowville, which is expected to bring 100 to 150 jobs, brought more home buyers to Lewis County this year.

“People are just rearranging to what their needs are now,” she said.

In 2016, compared to 2015, Jefferson County’s median home price dropped by $8,000, or 5.3 percent, from $150,000 to $142,000. The median price also fell in Lewis County over the same period by $7,000, or 6.3 percent, from $117,000 to $110,000.

The number of foreclosures and second-quarter home sales brought down the overall median price for homes in 2016, Mr. Evans said. Mrs. Staie said many sellers lowered their prices after keeping their houses on the market for too long.

“People were ready to sell, so they asked for less,” she said.

The number of units sold and the median price for 2016 increased from 2015 in St. Lawrence County.

The median price rose by $3,000, or 3.4 percent, from $87,000 in 2015 to $90,000. The number of units increased by 68 units, or 10.8 percent, from 629 in 2015 to 697.

Mrs. Gilson said St. Lawrence Health System Inc.’s Canton-Potsdam Hospital expansion brought more employees to the area, meaning more home purchases. The increased demand compared with the lack of inventory in Canton and Potsdam encouraged sellers to raise their prices, bringing up the median price this year.

“Supply and demand,” Mrs. Gilson said.

The north country has many properties that are both located near urban areas with job opportunities and have either several acres of land or waterfront access, Mr. Evans said, boosting sales both this quarter and the entire year.

“We are a good area for being able to combine work and play,” he said.

The Jefferson-Lewis board has 323 members and the St. Lawrence board has 164 members, Mr. Evans said.