Yates real estate: Sales, prices dip
TRI-COUNTY AREA--Yates County real estate sales are down 6.1 percent through nine months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.
For the same time period, the median home price has dropped slightly as well by 1.92 percent. This year the median price is $179,000 and last year the price was $182,500.
"In Yates (the real estate market) hasn't changed too much. (So far through 2019) there were 77 closed sales vs. 82 (for the same period) last year," said Mary-Ann Morehouse, president of the Elmira Corning Regional Association of Realtors.
In 2019, there have been 136 houses for sale in Yates, an increase from 127 last year, with 77 houses sold this year compared to 82 sold in 2018.
"There are more houses for sale but that number is still considered low inventory. And with a $179,000 median price, Yates is higher than the Elmira-Corning Board as a whole. The highest of the area," Morehouse said.
With a median home price of $179,000 through three quarters of 2019, Yates County has the highest regional median house value when compared to surrounding counties. Despite being down from $182,500 for the same period in 2018, Yates County still outpaces Schuyler County, which stands at $167,000, and Steuben County at $126,000.
"The national economy is strong and interest rates are low... and tourism is the reason why Yates is the highest in the area. People are buying lake houses to summer here and do the wineries. Also, the airbnb model is increasing, where investors have come in (and bought houses to rent online)," Morehouse said.
"Interest rates are so good right now I'm buying a house myself," said Austin Lapp, owner of Wine Trail Properties in Penn Yan.
Lapp added that recent commercial development in areas like Penn Yan have also helped make the area more desirable for tourism and residents living year round. Despite the strong market conditions, Lapp said he doubts the current strength of the market will last.
"I thought it would slow down about a year and a half ago and it didn't, so I am hesitant to say when it will again, but it doesn't seem stable to me. We're riding the wave as long as we can," Lapp said.
If and when that happens, Lapp said it won't result in a major crash of median home prices.
"I don't think there will be a major crash, maybe just a slight correction," Lapp said.
For her part, Morehouse said she does not anticipate a market slowdown any time soon.
"We don't see any major changes for next year, as you look at the stats, our area is quite stable with no huge highs and lows. I think it will continue on the same trend so long as interest rates and unemployment remain low, the market should remain strong," Morehouse said.
Part of the reason why Lapp said he expects a market correction comes from outside factors that cannot be controlled locally.
"Obviously we are at the mercy of things like milk prices and interest rates, but tourism never seems to slow down, that seems to keep increasing," Lapp said.
Over the course of his career Lapp said that he has noticed even during times of economic turmoil the local tourism industry maintains its strength and helps to keep local house prices relatively stable.
"I have noticed that even when the economy takes hits people still vacation, they just don't stay as long. But apparently the Finger Lakes is just too irresistible for people to stop coming," Lapp said.
According to statistics provided by Morehouse, home sales are down for the first nine months of 2019 in Schuyler County by 27.42 percent while the median home price has increased by 19.28 percent compared to the previous year.
"Prices have jumped as inventory has gone down, and that makes sense. You get more offers more demand and people are willing to pay more when there are less houses on the market," Morehouse said.
"The trend continues with low inventory and less sales than last year. But that has more to do with inventory (shortage) than less demand. It's a strong market and is still considered a sellers market," said Mary-Ann Morehouse, president of the Elmira Corning Regional Association of Realtors.
She added that any time the average selling time for houses in a market fall under six months, it constitutes a seller's market.
With 45 closed sales in through nine months in 2019 compared to 62 for the same time period in 2018, home sales are lower. However, the median home prices have increased from $140,000 to $167,000.
In general, the county lacks inventory, but especially in Watkins Glen, said Lori Bernagozzi, associate broker at the real estate firm Cabins to Castles in Watkins Glen.
"(In Watkins Glen) unless something is severely overpriced, it is going to sell with multiple offers," said Bernagozzi.
Bernagozzi said that the only time she actually gets excited for a new client in the village is when they are interested in selling their house.
"Because when I get a call about buying something (in Watkins Glen) chances are it isn't available," Bernagozzi.
Part of the driving force behind the interest in Watkins Glen comes from the local school district.
"More people call interested about the Watkins Glen School district than others. That doesn't mean I am saying it is better than other school districts," Bernagozzi said.
The reasons behind the strong market rely in part on a locally booming tourism economy, a strong national economy, and low interest rates.
"I think a lot of it is national, the mortgage rates are very very low and we still have a strong economy. So that's helping," Morehouse said.
On top of the national driving forces, the local tourism industry is also doing its part to drive the market.
"In Schuyler you have wineries, breweries, cheese, a growing organic food market, (strong racing and car culture) and more," said Morehouse.
Despite the recent growth, Morehouse said she doesn't see a housing market correction happening any time soon.
"We don't see any major changes for next year. And as you look at the stats our area is quite stable with no huge highs and lows. I think it will continue on the same trend so long as interest rates and unemployment remain low, meaning the market should remain strong," Morehouse said.
Locally the one thing that could hurt the market would be a sudden influx of homes going for sale in the same time period. However, Morehouse said there is no reason to think that would be the case.
In Hammondsport there was a slight decrease in the median house price from $166,000 in 2018 to $158,000 in 2019 while eight houses have sold this year compared to the 13 from last year. Morehouse noted that the numbers from Hammondsport only represent sales tracked through the Elmira Corning Board and is not a total representation of all sales.