Continuing a steady 12-month trend, Western New York’s housing market posted solid growth again in October, as sales rose strongly from the prior year and sellers saw gains in prices that are raising the bar on local housing values.
The number of completed home sales rose 9.5 percent in October, to 1,039, hitting the fourth-highest level of any month since mid-2010 and the highest peak for October in at least five years, according to the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.
And the pace showed no signs of slowing, as pending sales in October – where a contract’s been signed but it’s not final – rose 5.5 percent to 831. That’s the highest level for October in at least five years and indicates a strong feed for the next two months.
More broadly, for the first 10 months of the year, closed sales rose 10.2 percent to 8,772, while pending sales were up 7.2 percent to 9,390. Both were the highest tally in at least two years.
“It’s very strong. We’ve probably had our best year in five years, since the recession started,” said Philip L. Aquila Jr., general manager of residential real estate at M.J. Peterson Corp. “The economy has gotten appreciably better and more stable, so people feel good about buying and selling again.”
On the other side of the supply-and-demand equation, meanwhile, homeowners put 1,313 homes onto the market in October, a 3.5 percent increase from the total new listings a year earlier.
Even so, the higher pace of sales activity is overtaking the existing inventory, as the number of homes for sale fell 13.9 percent to 5,099. That’s the lowest level for the month of October in four years – since the depths of the recession. Only the five months of last winter, from December 2012 through April 2013, were lower for any month since June 2010.
In fact, buyers didn’t let available homes linger for long. Houses spent only 56 days on the market in October, down 15.2 percent, to the third-lowest level of any month since July 2010. And at that pace, the inventory would last 5.8 months, down 19.4 percent from a year earlier. That’s the second-lowest level of any month in the past two years, and only the troughs of 2009 and 2010 were lower.
“It’s great to see that our local market experienced such great activity this past year,” said Robyn Cannata, a broker at Hunt Real Estate Corp. “But if we experience another boom in buyers and another shortage in inventory that doesn’t match up to the demand, it will be another year of frustration for anyone thinking of buying.”
As a result, buyer demand continued to drive up prices in October. The median sales price – half are higher and half are lower – rose 3.3 percent to $124,000, while the average rose 3.5 percent to $145,304. Those are lower than the summertime peaks of the housing market in the last two years, but are still higher than historic levels from all prior years.
Similarly, for the year to date, the median rose 4.2 percent to $125,000, while the average rose 4 percent to $148,759.
Nationally, home prices rose 11 percent in October from a year earlier, not including “distressed” sales such as short sales or sales of foreclosed properties, according to national research firm CoreLogic. In New York, prices rose 12.4 percent – the fifth-highest year-over-year gains of any state in October.