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Hot Buffalo Niagara real estate market continues

Temperatures may be dipping but home sales are still sizzling.

Closed sales rose again in October along with another surge in new contracts and new listings, as the Western New York housing market maintained its record-setting pace into the fall.

Completed deals increased 4.8 percent to 1,212 from 1,157, representing the highest level for October since at least 2001, and the fourth-highest level on record for any month in the last 15 years, according to new data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

For the first 10 months of the year, sales were up 7.9 percent to 9,450. At that pace, the market will set a record for total transactions for a full year, beating even the peak of 11,138 set in 2007.

Pending sales, in which a deal has been signed but not sealed, increased 10.5 percent to 944 from 854, also marking a high for the month for the last 15 years, despite being the lowest level of 2015 since February.

And so far this year, pending deals are up 13.6 percent, to 10,690 from 9,410. That’s already higher than the full-year totals for every year since 2000 except the banner year of 2007. And it was only 41 signed contracts away from beating that mark, with two months to go.

“The market is sizzling,” said John Leonardi, BNAR CEO. “There aren’t any real negatives, which is awesome for this time of year. Pending sales are off the charts and honestly, all of the indices are strong going into December.”

The hot and heavy sales activity also continues to lure homeowners to list their properties, as new listings rose 6.5 percent to 1,451 in October, the highest level for the month since 2005. For the first 10 months of the year, new listings are up 8.2 percent to 16,677. If that rate continues for the last two months of the year, more than 20,000 homes will have been added to the market since Jan. 1, easily setting a record.

Nevertheless, the availability of more homes for sale wasn’t enough to keep up with the pace of deal making, as the total inventory of homes for sale fell 10.7 percent to 5,129 – the lowest for October since 2004 – from 5,746. That’s about 5.2 months of sales at the current pace, below the ideal level of six months.

At Hunt Real Estate Corp., which closed out its fiscal year on Oct. 31, “the company overall had its best year ever,” and so did its Buffalo Niagara region, said Peter Scarcello, Hunt’s general manager for Western New York. He said pending sales in November were 28 percent ahead of the year before, while new listings were up 20 percent. And homes were turning over 20 percent faster than expected and a full month faster than last year. “The market is still very active.”

Prices were mixed in October. The median sales price – half sold for more, half for less – rose 1.2 percent to $127,000, while the average fell 2.2 percent to $151,758. If prices hold steady, the average and median for the full year will again set records.

BNAR tracks arms-length sales by its members in the eight-county region of Western New York, along with some transactions in Monroe and Livingston counties. The data is released one month after the period ends.