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Home sales lose last year’s momentum through first half of 2013

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Home sales through the second quarter of 2013 in Jefferson County have lost momentum when compared with the first half of last year, according to data from the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

While sales in Jefferson County are still strong, they’ve dipped slightly through the first six months of the year after what Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the board, described as a “terrific year” for Realtors in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties in 2012.

Thirty-six fewer homes, or 8.9 percent, were sold in Jefferson County compared with the same period last year, a decrease from 405 to 369 units. Comparing the second quarter by itself — April through June — 37 fewer homes, or 15.5 percent, were sold compared with last year, a decrease from 239 to 202 homes. The median price of homes climbed by $14,000, or 9.9 percent, from last year, from $142,500 to $156,500.

Realtors in Lewis County sold 64 homes through the second quarter, the same number as last year. Four fewer homes, or 10.5 percent, were sold from April through June this year, a decrease from 38 to 34 homes. The median price of homes increased by $8,000, or 7.4 percent, from last year through the second quarter, from $108,000 to $116,000.

In St. Lawrence County, six fewer homes, or 2.6 percent, were sold this year, a decrease from 234 to 228. From April through June, 13 fewer homes, or 9.2 percent, were sold, a drop from 141 to 128 homes. The median price of homes through the second quarter decreased by $1,300, or 1.7 percent, from $76,300 to $75,000.

The makeup of the housing market in the region outside Fort Drum has changed this year, Mr. Evans said, because of the handful of large apartment complexes built to serve the military population. An increasing number of military families could be deciding to rent units, rather than buy houses. But while the 369 Jefferson County home sales through six months are down from last year, that figure still tops 2011’s mark of 339 houses.

“I don’t expect sales to be as great as last year at the moment, but it’s going to be a good year,” Mr. Evans said. “You now have the brand new apartment properties coming up for families, and some people may decide to rent rather than buy. In some cases, soldiers may come back from overseas and rent units because they’re going to be here only a year and don’t want to plant roots.”

Sales in St. Lawrence County, which aren’t affected as much by trends at Fort Drum, have stayed in the same range over the past five years, Mr. Evans said.

“They’ve been down for the past couple of years, but only slightly,” he said. “One of the blessings that St. Lawrence County has is that sales don’t drop as much as they can in Jefferson County, but they also don’t reap as much benefit when the economy jumps.”

Deployments at Fort Drum may be another factor in housing sales this year. Of the 17,852 soldiers assigned to Fort Drum, 5,152 are overseas, according to a report published July 15 by the Army’s Installation Management Command. Of the post’s soldiers, 11,194 have families, and 7,331 of them live off post.

The report also gauges the number of rental units within 20 miles of Fort Drum. Some 2,700 rental units have been added to the market since 2006, data show, and there are about 1,100 rental units under construction. Only 40 units were added to the market in 2012. Based on seven major housing projects under construction, 600 units are projected to open this year, 300 in 2014 and 200 in 2015.

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