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After slow start, Q2 home sales recover in Jefferson County

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Following a sharp first-quarter decline, home sales in Jefferson County recovered during the second quarter compared with a year ago.

Second-quarter home sales in Jefferson County edged up by 2 percent, or four units, from 204 to 208, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. Those figures are much improved from the first quarter, when sales dropped sharply by 27 percent, or 35 units, from 165 to 130 compared with the previous year.

St. Lawrence County home sales decreased by 4 percent, or five units, from 131 to 126, according to the county Board of Realtors. About 325 Realtors are members of the Jefferson-Lewis board, while the St. Lawrence board has about 170.

Lance M. Evans, executive director of the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County boards, said second-quarter sales in Jefferson County suggest the market has recovered after a slow first quarter. He said the prolonged winter had a negative impact on first-quarter sales.

“The market has recovered and come back to normal in Jefferson County,” Mr. Evans said. “Sales could increase through the rest of the year, but I don’t think they will be better than 2013. We were so far down in the first quarter — by 35 sales in Jefferson County — and a bunch of that was caused by the long winter.”

Sales through the first half of the year, from January through June, are still significantly down in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties due to unusually low first-quarter numbers. In Jefferson County, sales are down by 9 percent, or 31 units, from 371 to 340 over the six-month period; in St. Lawrence County, they are down by 13 percent, or 29 units, from 228 to 199. Lewis County has bucked that trend, however, as sales are up by 17 percent, or 11 units, from 65 to 76 over the same period.

Along with the unusually long winter, the influx of new rental housing complexes in the Watertown is another factor that has contributed to lower overall home sales this year in Jefferson County, Mr. Evans said. He said the uncertainty of potential troop cuts at Fort Drum has made it more practical, in some cases, for military families to rent apartments rather than buy homes.

“I think there is some uncertainty on the military side,” he said. If the Army “is going to drop (thousands) of soldiers, then I would want to rent if I were a soldier because there is more flexibility. If you own a home, you have to sell it when you leave.”

Second-quarter median home prices fell compared with those of a year ago in Jefferson and Lewis counties. The median was down by 11 percent, or $17,250, from $162,250 to $145,000 in Jefferson County. In Lewis County, the median fell by 12 percent, or $15,750, from $126,750 to $111,000.

The median increased in St. Lawrence County over the same period by $21,500, or 29 percent, from $74,000 to $95,500.

Statewide, home sales decreased during the second quarter compared with a year ago by 7.7 percent, or 2,081 units, from 26,890 to 24,809, according to the New York State Association of Realtors. The second-quarter statewide median sales price was $225,000, down 2.2 percent, or $5,000, from the 2013 second-quarter median of $220,000.

MEDIAN SALE PRICES

Median sale prices in the second quarter declined in Jefferson and Lewis counties from a year ago, while St. Lawrence County saw an increase.

Jefferson: $145,000 —11%

Lewis: $111,000 —12%

St. Lawrence: $95,500 +29%

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