Fewer homes on the market, high interest rates and cold weather contribute to a tough end of year
By Mary Beth Roach
The real market in Central New York is being impacted by low inventory, bidding wars and, to some degree, high interest rates and the approaching Central New York winter.
While the inventory in some areas is increasing, real estate agents in Oswego and Onondaga counties aren’t seeing that.
John Adolfi of Adolfi Real Estate in Phoenix said that in the city of Oswego, as of mid-November, there were about 22 single-family properties for sale, when it’s usually 100 properties available. In Fulton, where there are usually 60 to 90 properties for sale, there were 12.
The numbers are more surprising when one looks at the larger area. According to rockethomes.com, the Onondaga County real estate market had 1,480 homes for sale in October, compared 1,698 homes in September — a 12.8% decrease in inventory. In Oswego County, those numbers were 401 in September and 351 in October, showing a 12.5% decrease in houses on the market.
Melissa White of the Hodgkins Homes Team at Hunt Real Estate in Onondaga County said that one reason for the low inventory is that no one wants to move. “They don’t want to get a mortgage with a higher interest rate, so right now, realtors are figuring out strategies to overcome that and help the buyers have more options,” she explained.
According to Freddie Mac, interest rates finished September at 7.31% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, an increase from 7.07% average in August. This is the highest level since the year 2000, the New York State Association of Realtors noted on its website.
But not all real estate salespeople are experiencing a lot of pushback from buyers regarding interest rates.
“If there is any negativity toward the interest rates, people don’t seem to be complaining too loudly,” Adolfi said. “I’m surprised, but they haven’t.”
The difference between what buyers can get at a 3% mortgage rate compared to a 7% rate, is “profound,” Adolfi added.
Higher interest rates are only slightly affecting the market and mainly impacting first-time homebuyers, according to Liverpool real estate agent Chatarina “Trine” Etoll, of eXp Realty. Etoll said that it is unlikely that the rates will go back to 3%. She suggested that some buyers may opt to consider a creative loan, like a 10-year adjustable-rate mortgage and refinance later.
Low inventory is driving up home prices. It’s a sellers’ market in both Oswego and Onondaga counties, with houses going for far more than the asking price.
Again, citing statistics from rockethomes.com, more than 64% of the homes sold in Onondaga County went for more than the asking price in October and when compared to October 2022, the median price per home was up 9.1%. In Oswego County, a little more than 52% of the homes were sold above the asking price and the median sold price in October was up 4.8% over the same month last year.
Some extreme examples: Etoll told of one buyer who put in an offer of $90,000 over asking price with no inspections and still lost out. White of Hodgkins Homes Team at Hunt Real Estate said that she had an offer declined that was more $104,000 over asking price.
White also said that with the bidding wars, there are more escalation offers being used. They have “become part of the culture,” she added.
With escalation clauses, potential buyers can raise their offer in increments to a certain amount if the seller gets a better offer. However, if the seller does not get a better offer, then the buyer’s original bid stands.
Many of White’s clients are investors and often they’re being outbid because it doesn’t make sense for them to pay so much money on an investment property.
While the days that houses are sitting on the market may be increasing slightly — from about 21 to 23 days as Etoll noted — most are selling in less than one month’s time. Rockethomes.com’s stats show that of the 395 homes sold in Onondaga County in October, 340 were sold in less than 30 days. In Oswego County 79% of the 101 homes sold in October went in less than 30 months.
And while many Central New Yorkers don’t like moving in the snow and cold of the winter, one area real estate company expects their business to pick up after the holidays. At the Salmon River Realty in Pulaski, Caroline Oeschger, a licensed salesperson there, said their company specializes in land, camps and farms, capitalizing on its location near Lake Ontario, the Salmon River and the Tug Hill Plateau and the opportunities in that area for outdoor recreational activities.