By JOHN CROPLEY
The Fulton County housing market surged in the first six months of 2021, with more houses selling in much less time for much more money than in any recent year.
The sale prices within the county are lower than in the Capital Region (Saratoga County’s median price is more than double Fulton County’s) but the sales boom is similar in other aspects.
Factors include low mortgage interest rates and the COVID pandemic: Having spent so much time at home in the past year and a half, many people with the means to do so have been improving their living spaces, trading up to better houses, or investing in vacation homes — such as those that dot the shorelines of Fulton County’s many lakes.
A significant percentage of local housing sales are made through the Global Multiple Listing Service. It shows a median sale price of $140,750 for January through June of 2021, a 33% increase from the same period in 2019. (Prices began to rise in 2020, amid the COVID shutdown.)
Virginia Mackey, a real estate agent for 52 years, said the dynamics of the market are unprecedented.
“COVID cramped us for a while last year,” she said. “Then all of a sudden everything boomed — I have never seen the market explode like it did.”
Some listings would receive multiple offers and sell within a day, Mackey said.
“You had to compete with three or four or five offers every time you submitted one. It had to be the highest and best you could do … people were paying $15,000 to $20,000 over asking price.”
The Fulton County market can be split into two segments, she said: Lakefront houses and everything else. There’s a huge price differential between the two segments, she said, and the lower end of the market is starting to be a victim of its own success at times.
“Now they’re listing their houses too high and the market has slowed a bit,” said Mackey, who works at Junell Realty in Gloversville.
Also, the recent jump in prices is not fully reflected in comparable sales, which can lead to a loan being denied unless the buyer increases the down payment or the seller cuts the selling price.
This happened Thursday with a prospective sale she was trying to broker: The appraisal came in $3,000 too low for the sale price.
Mackey said she has had clients lower their sights when their ideal house is out of their price range, and then buy a fixer-upper, but that potentially creates another problem: Many would-be buyers in that price range will need an FHA mortgage, which can be hard to secure on houses that need a lot of work.
She also has observed more people looking at houses in Fulton County after being priced out of the Capital Region, particularly Saratoga County.
“It is a very unusual market,” Mackey said.
One of the most unusual residences now on the Fulton County housing market is the former Elton Leather mill in Gloversville, which has been converted into a luxury home.
Coldwell Banker Realtor Frederick DeLucco is listing the 6,600-square-foot brick building at 49 Spring St. for $899,000, more than six times the median sale price.
It’s a very appealing property yet lacks mass-market appeal because of its price.
“It’s got to be a unique buyer for that property,” DeLucco said, “somebody that’s going to see it and — the place is just ‘Wow,’ it really is.”
He has heard interest and has shown it to prospective buyers, mostly out-of-town residents. But no sale yet, after two months on the market.
For more conventional properties, the demand is higher, DeLucco said.
“Real estate around this area is very busy right now,” he said, with some choice properties selling almost upon listing.
DeLucco said he had a listing in Dolgeville that went live Tuesday and had a buyer Friday.
He’s based in Ilion and is active as far west as Rome; across that wide area, the market is neither as strong nor as expensive as a metropolitan area, but it’s very active, he said.
The Global Multiple Listing Service maintained by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors provides details of many but not all housing sales in counties where GCAR member Realtors work.
Here are some Global MLS statistics for Fulton County for the first six months of 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021:
• New Listings: 383 — 397 — 318 — 360.
• Closed sales: 202 — 205 — 210 — 265.
• Median sale price: $105K — $107K — $118K — $141K.
• Percentage of original asking price received: 90.7% —89.2% — 89.2% — 94.5%.
• Average days on market until sale: 98 — 94 — 98 — 52.