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Fighting the Slump

Homeowners struggle with market, but local Realtors optimistic

March 28, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald
In July, Matt and Rachel Woods of Johnstown put their house up for sale with a definite sales plan in mind.

“Then the downhill slide started,” said Matt Woods, referring to the real-estate market.

Woods said almost as soon as they listed with a real- estate company, bad news about the economy and home sales began.

“We FOILed [Freedom of Information Law] the tax base for values in our area, so we knew the value of our house and priced it right — including a willingness to drop a thousand [dollars] or two,” he said.

Nine months after putting their house on the market, the Woodses are taking if off with the idea that waiting for an eventual upturn in the market may be wise. Despite five open houses, and what they felt was a good effort on the part of their Realtor, the couple never got an offer.

According to a recent news release from the New York State Association of Realtors, sales of existing single-family homes in the state decreased in January by more than 23 percent compared to December. The median sales price increased by more than 9 percent during the same time.

January sales decreased by 21.8 percent compared to the January 2007 sales total of 6,548.

Matt Woods said with a growing family, the couple were looking for a basic three-bedroom home with garage and a yard. He said they liked the neighborhood they were in, but needed more room.

Despite the state figures, local Realtors remain optimistic. Mike Teetz of Glove Cities Realty said home sellers need to be patient.

“Good houses always sell,” Teetz said Wednesday. “We went through the same kind of thing in the early ’90s, but without the federal government getting involved. I don’t see any increase in foreclosures around here. We don’t have those big swings here. That’s the beauty of this area.”

Teetz said the area is somewhat insulated from the boom and bust fluctuations seen in some areas of the country.

“Excluding lakefront areas, we don’t see any big booms or sharp curves,” he said. “We aren’t influenced by market trends in that way. We don’t see the busts either.”

Teetz said changes in home price and sales figures are modest in the area.

“Our inclined slope will flatten, not dip,” he said. “When we have a prolonged winter and spring hits, people are out looking for housing.”

Teetz added the area’s housing sales were far from being in a crunch.

“Housing is one of the basics,” he said. “Everybody needs to live somewhere.”

AREA — On Page 2D

Realtor Virginia Mackey agreed with Teetz.

“Our area is quite stable,” she said. “I don't know about lake front. People buying lake front tend to be from out of the area."

Mackey said buyers coming in the area tend to skew the statistics. Overall she said there had been some percentage gains in the past couple of years.

"I'm not the only one saying it," Mackey said. "It's not just this profession. There is money available at good rates."

Mackey said the area had good jobs available and the overall future picture looked bright.

"Some sub-prime lenders lost a few people, but most buyers now are in pretty good shape," she said. "I don't really look at percentages. With 45 years of experience in the local real estate market, I'm very positive about the area. We get inquiries from out of the area and they think it's fabulous."

Mackey touted the theater renovations at the Glove Theatre, new building front renovations at the Abdella Law Offices and the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry all showing a positive change for even the downtown area of Gloversville.

"I feel very positive," Mackey said.

Traci Easterly of Coldwell Banker Arlene M. Sitterly, Inc. agreed with Mackey.

Other realtors consulted just didn't see local trends following the national or even state-wide downturns.

"We just don't have the fluctuations here that are experienced elsewhere," Easterly said.

Shelley Yerdon is president of the Fulton County Board of Realtors. She said her office hadn't seen the kind of fluctuation reflected in state and antional reports.

"The median price of a single family home in the first quarter is $106,078 as compared to $90,000 for the same quarter in 2007," Yerdon said.

Yerdon said she hadn't noticed a downturn in sales locally.

According to the NYSAR Web site 27 counties in January 2008 reported gains in median selling price compared to January 2007, while 22 posted gains compared to December 2007.

“A combination of the traditionally slow winter housing market and tighter mortgage lending practices likely resulted in a January sales slowdown in New York,” said Duncan R. MacKenzie, NYSAR chief executive officer. “New York State like most of the nation is feeling the credit pinch caused by the fallout from the subprime market. Moving forward, we are optimistic that the market should be helped by the increase in FHA loan limits, which will expand access to stable mortgage products for all buyers.”

Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at

Article Photos

Richard Nilsen/The Leader-Herald

Above is the home of Matt and Rachel Woods in Johnstown. They say the slip in the housing market has made it difficult for them to sell the home.



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