Home sales, prices rise in Q1 data
By Ted Booker, NNY Business
The prospect of troop cuts at Fort Drum hasn’t slowed the housing market in Jefferson County.
The number of homes sold in the county during the first quarter of 2015 is up from the same period last year by 17 units, or 13 percent, from 134 to 151, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. The median home price, meanwhile, climbed over the same period by $16,600, or 13 percent, from $129,800 to $146,400.
“We still had a long winter this year and the snow stuck around, but we didn’t have it coming down every other day like last year, when sales were down,” said Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis board. “We’re selling more homes at better prices … And there is still a core group in the military who are going to be buying homes wherever they go, instead of renting.”
Of the 151 homes sold in the county during the first quarter, 45 units, or 30 percent, were purchased by military members who secured loans from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Mr. Evans said. During the first quarter of 2014, 49 homes, or 37 percent, were bought with VA loans. And of the 910 homes sold in 2014, 293 units, or 32 percent, were bought with VA loans.
Homes bought with VA loans “have been holding at around 30 percent,” Mr. Evans said. “Barring major troop cuts, I think it’s going to continue to be a steady portion of our sales.”
Mr. Evans added that while the county’s median home prices fell in 2014 from 2013, he believes that strong first-quarter numbers this year indicate homes will likely continue to be sold at higher prices than last year. In 2014, he said, real estate brokers sold houses at lower prices largely because of the greater availability of new rental housing countywide. But the majority of the units are now occupied at some new rental complexes in the Watertown area, he said, such as the Beaver Meadow Apartments complex on Towne Center Drive and the 394-unit Preserve at Autumn Ridge complex on County Route 202.
“A lot of people moved in when units were brand new, but that has changed,” he said.
Even so, more rental units are slated to be built soon in the Watertown area.
The developer of the Autumn Ridge complex, Morgan Management of Pittsford, plans to start building a 359-unit townhouse complex this year to the east of County Route 202. And the developer of the Beaver Meadows complex, COR Development of Fayetteville, will start construction this year on an apartment complex at the former Mercy Hospital site with 160 to 200 rental units, along with retail and office space. The project is expected to be finished in 2016.
In Lewis County, statistics from the Jefferson-Lewis board show the median home sale price during the first quarter climbed from the same period last year by $18,500, or 19 percent, from $98,500 to $117,000. The number of homes sold over the same period decreased by 13 units, or 36 percent, from 36 to 23.
During the first quarter in St. Lawrence County, the median home sale price increased from the same period last year by $7,500, or 11 percent, from $68,000 to $75,500, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The number of homes sold over the same period increased by 8 units, or 11 percent, from 73 to 81.
The Jefferson-Lewis board has 333 Realtor members and the St. Lawrence board has 185, Mr. Evans said.
Ted Booker is a Johnson Newspapers staff writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2371.