Quarter One Homes Sales Higher than Last

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS

By: Marcus Wolf

The median price and number of houses sold last quarter were up in Jefferson County compared to the first quarter sales in 2016, but the market remained relatively stable for both Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.  

    The first-quarter median price for homes increased from the same time last year in Jefferson County by $7,325, or 6.4 percent, from $114,500 in 2015 to $121,825, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

    The number of foreclosed properties sold has either decreased from the same time last year or prospective homebuyers are purchasing them at higher prices, said Lance M. Evans, executive officer of both the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence county boards.

    “(Lending institutions) are trying to speed things up in some way to get them to the market or keep track of them,” Mr. Evans said.

    Vickie L. Staie, president of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and also the owner of Staie on the Seaway Real Estate Service, said having many move-in ready houses on the market accompanied by demand has also brought up the median price. That demand also allows sellers to hold out longer for buyers who are willing to spend more.

    “I think we’re going to see a great year all around in the real estate world,” Ms. Staie said. 

    The number of houses sold last quarter in Jefferson County also increased from the same time last year by 50 units, or 35.2 percent, from 142 to 192.

    Mr. Evans said buyers in Jefferson County will find that purchasing a home is less expensive on average than paying rent, citing three studies from Smart Asset, ATTOM Data Solutions and Realtor.com. 

    SmartAsset ranked Jefferson County eighth in the state in a study comparing the average rent to home prices in counties nationwide. According to SmartAsset, Jefferson County has a break-even point of 1.4 years when the cost of rent becomes greater than the cost of purchasing a home.

    “I’m intrigued by the fact that three different studies…all came up with the fact that it’s less expensive to buy than rent in Jefferson County,” Mr. Evans said. 

    More active-duty military members and veterans purchased homes in the area that were $200,000 or more using loans from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Mr. Evans said.

    “I’m doing a lot of military appraisals,” Ms. Staie said. “That includes St. Lawrence County as well.”

    The median price increased slightly in Lewis County over the same period by $2,500, or 3.2 percent, from $77,500 to $80,000 said Britton A. Abbey, who owns Good Morning Realty, Lowville, with Roger L. Abbey.

    Mr. Abbey said the median price-per-square foot was down last quarter by 62 cents at $57.74 from $58.36 in the first quarter last year, but real estate agents sold larger homes.

    “It looks pretty stable value-wise,” he said. 

    The number of homes sold in Lewis County, however, slightly decreased by seven units, or 17.5 percent, from 40 to 33.

    Mr. Abbey said the decrease in the number units sold was too small to determine the reasons behind it, adding that a year-to-year comparison shows that the number of units sold in Lewis County remained relatively stable.

    “A decrease of seven isn’t extraordinary,” he said.

    In St. Lawrence County, the median price remained relatively flat compared to the first quarter in 2016, slightly increasing by $1,100, or 1.3 percent, from $84,800 to $85,900, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors.

    The number of units sold also stayed relatively flat in St. Lawrence County compared to the same time last year, increasing slightly by three units, or 2.4 percent, from 127 to 130.

    Mr. Evans said St. Lawrence Health System Inc.’s expansion project for the Canton-Potsdam Hospital brought more doctors and nurses to the county, meaning more prospective homebuyers. He also said Allegiant Air helped bolster the economy by offering flights out of the Ogdensburg International Airport, bringing more people from Canada into the area.

    “Real estate is a good thing to spend money on,” Mr. Evans said.

    Debra J. Gilson, president of the St. Lawrence Board of Realtors and a broker for County Seat Realty, could not be reached for comment.

    Statewide, quarterly home sales last quarter have increased from the first quarter in 2016 by 662 units, or 2.7 percent, from 24,704 units in 2016 to 25,366 units, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. The first-quarter statewide median sales price was also up last quarter by $15,000, or 6.5 percent, from $230,000 in 2016 to $245,000.

    The Jefferson-Lewis board has 333 members and the St. Lawrence board has 175 members, Mr. Evans said.