2005-03-17 / Business & Finance

N.Y. Housing Market Set Some Records Last Year, Say Realtors

Fueled by a strong fourth quarter and low mortgage interest rates, sales of existing single-family homes in New York surpassed 103,000 to set a new annual record in 2004, according to the preliminary single family sales data accumulated by the New York State Association of REALTOR(r).

The 2004 statewide annual sales total of 103,526 represents an 8.4-percent increase from the 2003 market total of 95,534 and marks the first time the sales total has surpassed the 100,000-mark sine NYSAR began tracking data in the 1980’s. The previous record was set in 2002, when 97,522 existing single-family homes were sold.

The statewide median sales price of $232,000 represents a 16.9 percent increase from the 2003 statewide me-dian price of $198,500. It also represents the first time the annual median has surpassed the $200,000 mark since NYSAR began tracking data.

Of the counties for which data was available, 40 reported sales gains compared to 2003, led by Montgomery County with a 72.4 percent increase. Suffolk County had the greatest number of homes sold during the year with 12,642 transactions.

Median sales price increases compared to 2003 were reported in 48 coun-ties with the greatest percentage increase being reported in Lewis (32.8) and Columbia (30.3) counties. Westchester County led the state with a median sales price of $640,000.

“Once again the New York housing market is a shining beacon in the state’s economic picture as evidenced by the record-setting market in 2004,” said Charles M. Staro, NYSAR chief executive office. “The continuance of favorable mortgage rates helped to mi-tigate the increases in sales prices, keeping many buyers in the market. However, as we look forward to 2005, government and the private sector must work together to ensure that the ‘Ame-rican Dream’ of homeownership remains within the grasp of all New Yorkers. Ensuring that there is affordable housing in our state and that ever-rising property taxes do not turn the dream into a nightmare for our state’s homeowners must be a priority.”

According to HSH Associates, conventional rates began this year at 5.83 percent at the end of the year.

One-year adjustable mortgages were at 4.23 percent in December. Conven-tional rates began the year at 5.88 percent, according to HSH, then rose to a high of 6.42 percent in June before decreasing for the balance of the year.

The strong December finish helped the fourth quarter sales total finish almost 4 percent above the 2003 fourth quarter. New York’s REALTORS(r) sold 26,685 homes in the fourth quarter of 2004, a 3.9-percent increase com-pared to the fourth quarter of 2003, when 25,682 homes were sold.

The US Census Bureau reported that the national homeownership rate reached 69.2 percent in the 2004 fourth quarter, which was higher than the 2003 fourth quarter rate of 68.6 percent.

The homeownership rate in the North-east United States remained at a high level of 65.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

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