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Low inventory, higher prices marked 2021 real estate market – Albany Times Union

The Hudson Valley home-buying frenzy, sparked in 2020 by families relocating at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, didn’t cool down in 2021. In many places this year, the residential real estate market only got hotter.

The latest New York State Association of Realtors report, reflecting November numbers, shows that nationwide the residential real estate market remains strong heading into the winter, a period that typically slows. Inventory across the state shrank 26.9 percent from 2020 to 2021, while the number of days homes stayed on market decreased from 62 days to 51 days — 17.7 percent — in the same time period. 

We spoke to four real estate agents from around the region to understand what the real estate sector looked like by county. Some trendlines emerged: walkable communities continued to see interest, in addition to neighborhoods in close proximity to commuter highways and train stations. And inventory was squeezed further as the number of buyers and average home sale prices kept rising.

Home buying in Ulster County

“It’s a frothy, vibrant market right now,” said Tim Sweeney, President of Ulster County Board of Realtors and agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty.

More than 1,700 homes sold in Ulster County this year, up from around 1,600 in 2020. The majority of buyers in Ulster County in 2021 were those looking for a second home or to relocate to the area, similar to 2020, Sweeney said.

In Ulster County, prices were up while inventory was low. The average single-family home sale price surged 41 percent in two years, rising from $301,000 in 2019, to $388,000 in 2020, to $425,000 in 2021.

“We did see some buyer fatigue after September a little bit,” said Sweeney. “These are people constantly putting in bids for houses and losing. They got fed up and said, ‘I’m going away from the market.’” Often these frustrated buyers are those intending to purchase a home with a mortgage and are going up unsuccessfully against cash buyers, Sweeney said.

What inventory there was moved quickly. Single-family home listings in Ulster County stayed on the market for an average of just 55 days in 2021, down from 79 days in 2020 and 102 days in 2019.

Sweeney said the City of Kingston has been a top performer, accounting for 13 percent of the county’s total sales despite low inventory. The average sale price for a home in Kingston jumped by almost $100,000 in a single year, from $216,000 in 2020 to $312,000 in 2021. Towns like Marbletown, Stone Ridge, Woodstock, Gardiner and New Paltz were also hot spots for buyers in 2021.

“Prior to the pandemic, people wanted a home with privacy,” said Sweeney. “Now, buyers are interested in something that is walkable and doesn’t need to have a ton of land to it.”

Another sign of a hot market with low housing inventory is the number of land parcels transferred. In 2019, 193 vacant parcels were sold for an average price of $117,000, and 199 were sold in 2020. But this year, 244 land parcels were sold, with an average price of $145,000.

“People are saying, ‘I can’t find what I want so I’m going to build,’” said Sweeney.

Home buying in Dutchess County

“The buyers of 2020 tended to be more driven by fear when the pandemic really first hit,” said Sandi Park, an agent with Hudson Valley Nest/Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. “What I’ve found in 2021 is a shift. I’ve found buyers that had the time to re-evaluate their lifestyles.”

Park said Dutchess County has continued to see an inventory pinch. The only homes left on the market for a long period of time are those that are priced too high or do not have effective marketing strategies, in her assessment.

In November, the year-to-date median listing price was $407,500, according to the mid-Hudson Multiple Listing Service, up from $380,000 in 2020.

Hot towns in Dutchess County included Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and the Town of Washington, which includes the Village of Millbrook, where there was a 71 percent jump in sold listings from 2020 to 2021.

In Rhinebeck, more higher-priced homes have sold in the past year as well. In 2019, Rhinebeck had a total of seven single-family home sales above $1 million, compared to 24 in 2020, and 43 homes so far in 2021 that have sold above a million. 

Home buying in Putnam County

Similar to other Hudson Valley counties, the pace of home-buying demand in Putnam increased in 2021.

“There was so much activity when the pandemic began that you couldn’t keep up with the surge of buyers,” said Angela Briante of Briante Realty Group, which covers the entire county. “We thought that it would have died down in 2021 because things are getting back to as normal as can be. We still see lack of inventory, an enormous number of buyers still out there, and a large amount of offers.”

Throughout the county, Briante found that the hamlet of Carmel has seen the most buyer interest, one reason being the school district, which saw its football team win the state championships this year. Runner-ups for hot towns include Kent, Mahopac, Patterson and Brewster.

“There is a desperation to find a home, because it’s not an easy task for someone to purchase a home right now,” said Briante. “They’re usually up against multiple offers and a lot of cash offers.”

The average price of a home in Putnam County increased from $438,000 in 2020 to $516,000 in 2021. The volume of home sales increased by 32 percent in 2021, while the days on the market fell 37 percent since 2020.

Briante said she also saw an increase in commercial properties being sold this year. Why? It could possibly be because businesses are following where the people are going, she said, or that new Hudson Valley residents are bringing their businesses here. 

Home buying in Orange County 

“2021 was very busy for real estate in Orange County,” said Ron Garafalo, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Regional Director for Orange County and agent for John J. Lease Realtors. “Prices continued to go up pretty significantly throughout the year.”

In November, the median sale price of a single-family house increased from $317,976 in 2020 to $371,758 in 2021, with the average price per square foot jumped from $173 last year at this time to $207 today.

Meanwhile, looking just at quarter three, inventory in Orange County is down 19 percent this year from 2020 levels.

“There are not as many homes listed that are needed,” said Garafalo. “There is an increased buyer pool and interest rates are low. The combination leads to increased pricing and homes selling in a quick manner.”

In Orange County, he’s found that communities close to major highways have seen more interest, including places like Goshen and Monroe. Additionally, interested buyers have expressed a need for bigger homes than before.

“They’re spending more time in their home because of COVID,” said Garafalo. “Maybe they’re not in the office every day, so they want a space in their home that is dedicated to an office. That is a common want.”

Garafalo said he has continued to see multiple offers and upwards of 30 showings for homes that are priced appropriately.

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