Strong buyer demand in late summer drove home sales in Western New York up by nearly 25 percent in October, easily outpacing sellers' desire to list homes for sale and leaving the market with a big drop in available properties.
Closed deals soared 23.4 percent to 919 from 745 in October 2011 and 741 in October 2010, according to new figures from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors. They were also up 16.3 percent from 790 in September, though well below the two-year peak of 1,110 in August.
Pending sales, in which a contract has been signed but not sealed, rose a healthy 14.2 percent to 788 from 690, and even more from 668 in October 2010. Still, that's the lowest since February.
For the year to date, closed deals rose 8.5 percent to 7,897 from 7,281, as the number of transactions has risen from a year earlier in 10 of the past 12 months. Pending sales through October were up 12 percent to 8,828 from 7,882.
The association reports arms-length sales handled by members of the trade group in Western New York's eight counties, plus some in Monroe and Livingston counties.
"It's been a giant year for the housing market," the group said. "Most markets shed listings, resulting from strong sales and sluggish seller activity."
But the market's inventory of homes fell. New listings rose 8.9 percent to 1,272 from 1,168 in October but have been down 1.8 percent since the start of the year, to 14,838 from 15,114.
So the number of homes for sale fell 17.4 percent to 5,473 – the lowest level since March – and homes are spending just 66 days on the market, down 15.4 percent from 78 days in October 2011. That equates to just 6.6 months of supply, down 26.7 percent from 9 months a year ago.
As a result of the strong demand, prices rose. The median price – meaning half sold for more and half for less – rose 3.9 percent to $120,000 from $115,500, while the average price rose 7.2 percent to $141,474 from $131.924. Prices have increased almost every month since March, and sellers received 95 percent of what they were seeking.
"The economy is growing but at a glacial pace, and economic growth in 2013 is expected to outpace 2012," the association said in its report. "Mortgage rates are expected to remain near historic lows through 2015, rents are expected to rise due to low vacancy, and financial situations in Europe, China and elsewhere, believe it or not, have an effect on your local housing market."