Home sales in Western New York were down in May, and median prices were up.
Credit the laws of supply and demand. A tightening availability of homes for sale, coupled with growing buyer interest continues to push prices up.
“People are listing them at a good rate, but there’s an over-influx of buyers snapping them up,” said Phil L. Aquila Jr., general manager of residential real estate offices for M.J. Peterson Corp. “Put your house out there now, price it and let the bids begin. It’s auction-city.”
May sales actually show deals made up to two months earlier, in March and April, because of the time it takes to close. So the May numbers were also weighed down by the cold, wet weather, he said.
But the number of pending deals was up, indicating a surge in deal-signing in May and a possible harbinger of the summer months to come, according to statistics released by the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.
“The closed sales are down because this is the winter doldrums that we went through, and we’re just ending up. But the pending sales are starting to pick up because the weather got better,” Aquila said. “This is all weather-related, and now it’s one of the hottest markets in years.”
Completed deals fell 9 percent in May from a year earlier, to 801, and were down 5.8 percent for the year to date, to 3,208. Home sales typically take about 60 days to close in New York, so those contracts were likely signed as far back as March.
Meanwhile, pending sales – where a deal is signed but not done – rose 4.8 percent to 1,191, although they’re down for the first five months of the year by 1.1 percent, to 4,522. Still, May’s tally is the highest level for any month since April 2010, and the second-highest since at least 2001.
The pending deals were likely signed in either April or May, so the closings will occur over the following two months, and summer time is typically more active for home buying in the Buffalo Niagara region.
“It should be as strong or stronger in June. It’s going to stay hot in July, August and September,” Aquila predicted. “Houses are flying in a day or two, with multiple offers. I see positive things heading through the summer.”
But the number of new listings added to the market fell 3.1 percent to 1,949, and are down 6 percent for the year, to 7,180.
The total inventory of homes available for sale plunged 12.7 percent to 4,684 – the lowest level for May going into the summer months since 2004. At that rate, the supply would last only 5.4 months, down 15.6 percent from a year ago.
That has been a trend over the past two years that has puzzled real estate practitioners, and frustrated their clients who have struggled to find enough quality homes to bid on, and then frequently found themselves engaged in bidding wars and paying more than they wanted, or losing out on homes that went too fast.
Both the average and median prices have been steadily ticking up for the last decade, and while the average fell less than 1 percent to $143,729 in May, it’s still the second-highest level ever for May. Moreover, the median price rose 1.6 percent to $123,900, the highest level for May since at least 1999.
For the year to date, both prices rose, with the median up 0.4 percent to $119,000 since January and the average up 3.3 percent to $143,350.
The data, from the regional multiple listing service, includes arms-length transactions for single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums in the eight-county region of Western New York that were handled by members of BNAR. A small amount of data from two other counties is also included.