By Maureen Werther
Anyone who has ever worked in real estate knows the adage, “All real estate is local,” which means that what is happening in other parts of the country is not necessarily indicative of what is currently happening, or what is likely to happen over time in this market.
Take the economic downturn of 10 years ago, for example. While in other parts of the country real estate markets took a nosedive that lasted for a long period of time, the local market did not feel the recession as badly and it recovered more quickly.
Karen Charbonneau of the Saratoga Home Team group agrees with the adage. She has been in real estate for 24 years. Originally from Massachusetts, she has been working with buyers and sellers in this region for the last eight years.
“In Saratoga County, we didn’t have as much of a dip as the rest of the country did 10 years ago. Certainly, sales were lower, but it was not even as close to as much on the nationwide average,” she said.
However, Charbonneau said that for the last two weeks of August and the first week of September tis year, she has seen a slight slowdown.
“The fall market typically starts the second week in September, after people have gotten their kids back in school,” she said. “New contracts for the first 20 days of September have declined from last year. There were 182 pending sales in first 20 days of September 2017 and, so far, there have only been 128,” she said.
Charbonneau said fallout from the recent hurricane may have had an effect on the local market. She said there are a lot of people locally who have second homes in the parts of the country that were badly affected by the storm.
“We were pretty even in the first eight months of the year with 2017 and, for single family homes in Saratoga County, the numbers are astoundingly equal in 2018 to what they were in 2017,” said Charbonneau.
According to statistics put out by GCAR, Greater Capital Association of Realtors, Inc., 3,466 homes went on the market in first eight months of 2017 and 2,038 sold, with an average sale price of $314,559 and average number of days on the market of 55.
“If you compare that with the first eight months in 2018, we listed 3,453 houses, with 2,040 sold and an average sale price of $330,500 and average number of days on the market of 52.”
Barry Potoker, marketing director for Roohan Realty said inventories in the region are still on the low side, although it is beginning to pick up.
“Properties are for the most part selling pretty quickly, if they’re in the ‘sweet spot,’” said Potoker, referring to pricing. “In terms of Saratoga, homes in the mid to high $300,000s and the lower $400,000s will move pretty well. Even in the $500,000s and $600,000s. But, once you’re past that, it’s a little bit harder. That’s the wheelhouse of stuff that’s moving.”
Potoker said the local market is seeing new construction taking off in the last year and he believes it is a trend that will continue. He cited a few reasons for the uptick in new construction.
“People are downsizing. If you can’t find a re-sale in or around Saratoga, you can build a home for what it would cost—or even less—and you have your own custom home. And, pricing is reasonable because there are so many options. Four or five years ago, new construction was struggling,” said Potoker.
Charbonneau said there are a lot of baby boomers looking for homes with first-floor master bedrooms and suites. “They’re looking for their last house and they are OK with doing the work involved in new construction.”
The areas surrounding the city of Saratoga are also seeing a lot of new construction, mainly because there is no land to build on in Saratoga and resales have been limited. Area like Gansevoort, Wilton, Greenfield, and Malta are seeing a big increase in the number of new homes going up, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Julie Bonacio, of Julie & Co. Realty said the continued popularity of living in downtown Saratoga Springs has not abated and she has had multiple clients willing to buy older homes on lots in the city, replacing them with new construction.
She and her agents are seeing a lot more qualified leads. “People who are buying are focused and know what they want.”
She pointed to the 2018 Showcase of Homes.
“We had over 1,000 people come through our new condos on Union Avenue, and some of the other builders have had the same good numbers. People have been coming out in droves,” she said.
Another segment of the market—apartments—are “a whole other phenomenon,” said Potoker. “People are building a lot of rental developments and they are filling right up.”
Millennials and others can’t afford to purchase first homes, so rentals are booming. “They just keep building them and they fill up,” he said.
The apartment surge in this region is largely attributable to the higher-than-average cost of homes in Saratoga County, as compared to other counties in the region, as well as nationwide.
The real estate professionals agreed that they do not see the local and regional market remaining low for long and Saratoga County in particular continues to thrive and attract more people to the area.