Brokers decry lack of inventory in resurgent housing market - BlueStone Press
May 29, 2020
Our Towns

Brokers decry lack of inventory in resurgent housing market


Homes in and around Marbletown, Rochester and Rosendale have been selling at such a rapid clip that local real estate brokers’ most common complaint is that their cupboards are nearly bare.

Scarcity of inventory, at all price ranges, is looming as the housing market story of the summer in northern Ulster County, as it is throughout much of the country, real estate professionals say.

It’s no surprise to those who pay attention to the number of for-sale signs in their neighborhoods. Generally, they are seeing fewer of them.

At the end of May, the total number of homes for sale through Ulster County real estate’s shared listing service was down more than 20 percent from a year earlier, from 1,523 to 1,209, according to the latest statistics available as of this writing.

One local broker was planning last Saturday to show houses in the City of Kingston to a buyer who was looking in the $300,000 to $450,000 range.

“I have two homes to show them,” Laurel Sweeney, an associate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty in High Falls, said in a phone interview. “Last year I would have had 12,” she said.

“It is turning more into a sellers’ market,” which means sellers are gaining the upper hand in negotiations, said Laurie Willow, a broker based in New Paltz. “There are more buyers than sellers; it’s basic supply and demand.”

Brokers say in some cases they are steering buyers to Orange, Greene, Sullivan and Dutchess counties to find suitable properties.

It’s not just a local issue. The National Association of Realtors has blamed a nationwide decline in existing home sales in April and May on low inventory and high asking prices. The number of available properties throughout the country fell 6.1 percent year-over-year, to 1.85 million, which was the lowest May number ever recorded by that trade group. Sales in Ulster County dipped slightly in May to 146 from 150 in May 2017, a 2.7 percent decline.

Giant mortgage investor Freddie Mac said in a forecast issued last month that U.S. existing home sales have slowed because of “stubbornly low supply” and that home price growth nationwide is “expected to moderate.”

The average home price for sales tracked by the Ulster County listing service, which are primarily sales in Ulster County, was $272,891, with 659 homes sold in the first five months of this year. During that period in 2017, 652 homes sold at an average price of $259,361.

Local real estate brokers seeking to boost their inventories are advising prospective sellers to strike while the iron is hot.

Borrowing costs could rise and throw a wet blanket on buyer demand.

The rate on the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been around 4.5 percent in recent weeks, up from the high “3s” a year ago, according to data from Freddie Mac.

Meanwhile, Ulster County realty data showed that those houses that are on the market are not there for very long.

In the first five months of this year, the average time on the market has declined to 127 days from 138 during the comparable period a year earlier, an 8 percent drop.

Sellers in Ulster County have been getting 96 percent of their asking price this year, on average, a slight improvement from last year.

“It’s the perfect time to sell,” Sweeney said.

The resurgent real estate business has even started to attract more sales people after a mass exodus in the wake of the crash a decade ago.

Ulster County Board of Realtors’ membership declined from about 1,200 to fewer than 850 after the crash, but in the past year has added “about 35” members, bringing the total to 877, said Allison Organtini, the board’s acting chief executive officer.





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