The area housing market has remained stuck in neutral.
Statistics supplied by the New York State Association of Realtors show Fulton County had 233 sales of existing single-family homes in 2011, compared to 252 sales in 2010.
Meanwhile, the median sale price in the county dropped about 3.7 percent over the year, from $110,000 to $105,900.
Houses are shown for sale Friday on Bleecker Street in Gloversville at the intersection with Grand Street.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
According to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, Montgomery County saw the number of closed sales decline by 50 percent in January 2012 compared to January 2011.
Seven homes were sold in January 2012 in the county, while 14 were sold in January 2011. However, while the number of sales dropped in the two corresponding months, the median sales price jumped 23.4 percent, from $66,450 to $82,000.
Local real-estate agents say they're noticing an uptick in activity.
Tom McGroder, owner of Thomas J. Realty in Northville, said 2011 actually was one of his better years.
"We had a mixture of interest rates being down so low and investments being up a little bit," McGroder said. "I think people realize real estate is coming back around and sales are a little higher in the Capital Region."
Existing home sales are completed transactions that include single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops.
"I don't think it's changed significantly," said Michael Teetz, owner of Glove City Realty in Gloversville. "We are always having a slower market during the winter. Probably this year, our market was a little better than it may have been because of the milder winter."
Statewide, sales of existing single-family homes dropped by 3.9 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the state Association of Realtors.
However, sales of existing single-family homes in the fourth quarter of 2011 increased by 4.2 percent over sales in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Meanwhile, the median sales price of existing single-family homes dropped 0.7 percent in the state from 2010 to 2011, the association reported.
"The upward sales swing [in the fourth-quarter comparison] seems to contradict the low consumer confidence in the housing market as reported in the recent NYSAR/Siena Research Institute Consumer Real Estate Sentiment Survey," NYSAR chief executive officer Duncan MacKenzie said in a news release. "The statewide housing market continues to be unpredictable, punctuated by upswings that have yet to emerge as an ongoing trend."
According to figures released by the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales rose in January, although the number of houses for sale has declined. Sales rose by 4.3 percent in January from December. There was a 0.7 percent increase over January 2011. The national inventory of homes fell 0.4 percent to 2.31 million existing homes on the market.
"The upturn in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a news release.
Potential buyers are holding off for a number of reasons. High unemployment and weak job growth have deterred many potential buyers. Loans are harder to come by. Lenders are requiring bigger down payments and strong credit scores to qualify.
Even those with good credit and stable finances are hesitant to buy out of concern home prices will keep falling.
"We're cautiously optimistic that an uptrend will continue this year," NAR President Moe Veissi said in the release.
Teetz said many of his inquiries have been about primary residences and people living in two-family houses. He said there haven't been a lot of people looking to invest in property.
McGroder's base area covers the Great Sacandaga Lake region and he said his busy season normally starts around April, but he said with the lack of snow in the region, prior to Thursday's storm, more people have been in the area during January than normal.
"We're busier on the website because [potential buyers] don't have to worry about being snowed in," he said. "They're willing to take the Sunday trip and call up and find some information."
Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.