While there has been a drop in the number of homes sold in the area in the past few years, the sale prices of homes are going up.
As their two sons have gotten older and their extended family has grown, Jim and Becky Boseck have lost elbow room in their three-bedroom Colonial.
The 1,800-square-foot home at 15 N. Pearl St. in Canandaigua has served the Bosecks well over the last dozen or so years since they bought it, but it’s time for bigger digs. Trying to get a jump on the springtime pickup in real estate activity, they put their home up for sale last month.
As the manager of a small Farmington business, Jim Boseck said he is well aware of the tough economic times. And he said he and Becky, a fifth-grade teacher in Canandaigua, can’t help but have heard grim report after grim report about the troubled housing market on the national news.
But they’re not worried.
“We’ve had a few showings, we’ve had some nice traffic going through,” said Jim Boseck of his home, listed for $152,000. “We’re pretty sure that our house will sell, and we’ll move on.”
When it comes to the real estate market around here, the numbers are mixed: Single-family home sales in Ontario County dropped about 9 percent from 2005 to 2007, from 1,148 homes to 1,046, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. While that would seem to indicate that the market has hit a downturn, real estate agents and assessors say the market is faring well, all things considered.
They point to another set of numbers from the state Association of Realtors: The median sale price for single-family homes in Ontario County has gone up about 11 percent, from $126,217 to $140,000, over the last three years.
Canandaigua City Assessor Mark Brown said since he conducted a revaluation last spring, single-family home sales have averaged about 6 percent over their assessed value. For properties now for sale in the city, he said the asking price is about 18 percent above the assessment.
“We are not seeing what has been reported in the national media,” Brown said. “I’ve never subscribed to the idea that there is a national housing market. When you talk about real estate, it’s all local.”
Indeed, when it comes to Ontario County, Robin Johnson isn’t concerned. She is the county’s real property tax director, a position hat has her closely watching real estate transactions.
“I think Ontario is in pretty good shape as far as what I’m seeing as far as real estate sales and values,” she said, noting that property values in Ontario County have risen about 3 to 4 percent every year for the last several years.
Up Route 21 in Palmyra, meanwhile, Town Assessor Elaine Herman has posted over a dozen photos of homes that have sold in her town in recent months. Along with the photos, she lists addresses and sale prices — all in a prime viewing spot for the steady line of property owners who have been coming to Town Hall in the past several days to contest their new assessments.
What Herman is seeing is consistent with what a few Palmyra real estate agents are reporting. Dave Banks, an agent with Nothnagle Realtors, said “2007 is the best year I ever had.”
His fellow Nothnagle broker, Cindy Surline, said, “I had a fantastic 2007.”
And, so far, it’s panning out to be a good 2008 for Surline. She said she has already sold 10 properties since January. “I don’t see that our market is hurting,” she said.
The decrease in single-family home sales is less in Wayne and Yates counties from 2005 to 2007 — about 3 and 6 percent, respectively, according to the state Association of Realtors. The median sale price has dropped a half of 1 percent in Wayne County, from $109,900 in 2005 to $109,340 in 2007. In Yates County it has risen dramatically — 26 percent — from $110,000 in 2005 to $139,000.
Real estate agents have different opinions about what is driving the paradox in Ontario and Yates counties — that is, the drop in sales and rise in sale price.
Canandaigua agent Bonney Powers of Powers Realtors Inc. believes fewer homes have sold in Ontario County because fewer homes have been on the market. She points to numbers from the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors: From Jan. 1 to March 1, 2005, there were 793 homes on the market, 792 homes were on the market in the same period in 2006, and there were 806 homes on the market in that period in 2007. Yet for the same period this year, there were 771 houses on the market.
“When you see fewer homes on the market,” Powers said, “generally you think prices will increase because of less inventory. It’s the law of supply and demand.”
And why are there fewer homes on the market? If you ask Powers, it has to do with the economy. “We’re seeing people be much more cautious all the way around,” she said.
Potential home-sellers are “sort of hibernating a bit,” Powers said.
The national news reports probably isn’t helping. But those stories of housing gloom and doom are mostly centered around parts of the country like Florida and California where there were periods of rapid growth and fast, largely speculative, sales.
“The bubble burst because there was too much inventory and not enough demand,” said John Antetomaso, president of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors.
At the same time, he added, banks were allowing customers to “borrow up to 100 percent.” “Most of the people just thought it was easier to give the bank back the keys and just walk away,” Antetomaso added. “We don’t have that here, it’s not a speculative market.”
Canandaigua real estate agent Richie Torres lived in California and saw the boom first-hand. In fact, he was part of it. He bought his home in 2000 for $82,000 and sold it five years later for $200,000.
“The market took it up to $240,000 at its peak,” Torres said. “Now it’s down to $180,000.”
This part of the state hasn’t seen the dramatic fluctuations, but there are market hot-spots.
For instance, Torres said he had a home near the Bristol Mountain Winter Resort “priced in the low $100,000s” that sold in a flash. “I wish I had six to 10 more of those homes,” he said. “The call volume was amazing. That’s a hot area.”
Victor is a another real estate hub. Antetomaso said it’s in part because of the town’s location — close to Rochester and the Finger Lakes, off the Thruway and Interstate 490 — as well as its well-regarded school district.
It’s attractive to what Antetomaso calls “relos” — relocators. “Buyers definitely want to be there,” he said.
He said he listed a Gillis Road home for $430,000 on a recent Thursday and had a sold it Sunday.
It wasn’t nearly as easy for the Locke family. They sold their stately 2,800-square-foot Victorian on Thrall Street in Naples recently — about two years after it first went on the market. After they had no takers in the first six months, they took down the for-sale sign and regrouped.
The Lockes lowered the asking price some and decided to give it another try about five months later. About nine months later, it sold, and the Lockes — empty-nesters — moved to a home about half the size in Penn Yan. Though they got a bit less than what they originally hoped, the home still sold for more than it was assessed, making their sale in line with the countywide trend.
The Lockes suspect that their longer-than-expected sale offering was because their former home is so unique — “kind of a specialty house,” as John Locke put it — and because of tough economic times.
“About five, maybe even 10 years ago, I would actually have people stop as I was mowing my lawn and say, ‘If you ever want to sell your house, we’d be interested in buying it,’” said John, an instructor at Keuka College. “But when it came time to actually sell our house, we didn’t see that at all. The market had adjusted itself, but we didn’t necessarily know that.”
Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at email@example.com.