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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chautauqua County sees rise in housing figures

Housing sales numbers were up in August compared to July and have also gone up compared to August 2008, which is good news for Chautauqua county's housing market.
In August, 97 single-family homes were sold, an increase of 12 from July and an increase of 11 from last August.
Jan Murray, Chautauqua County Board of Realtors executive officer, said the market is continuing its strong pace of the past few months because of the $8,000 first-time home buyer credit and the state's tax incentive program that allows 20 percent of the annual mortgage interest on a home to be converted into a tax credit that can be deducted dollar-for-dollar from federal income tax.
Murray said with good press and realtors doing their job, the word is getting out about the benefits available for buying a home.
''Real estate offices are promoting (the benefits) in their advertising,'' she said. ''Each board and each office is doing what they can to get the word out. As long as people are aware of the program and able to buy, I think they will continue to take advantage of the program.''
The first-time buyer housing credit was part of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. The plan included the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers who purchase a home on or after Jan. 1 and before Dec. 1. Unlike previous tax credits for first-time buyers, this one doesn't have to be repaid. The $8,000 tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The National Association of Realtors said earlier this year that the new tax credit will boost first-time buyer home sales by an estimated 300,000 by the Nov. 30 deadline.
Duncan R. MacKenzie, New York State Association of Realtors, said first-time buyers who plan to take advantage of the existing tax credit should be under contract early in October to have the best chance for a closing by the Nov. 30 deadline.
''The growth New York's housing market has experienced since March is the best proof that our lawmakers in Washington should extend the tax credit, which is due to expire on Nov. 30,'' said MacKenzie. ''Congress has an opportunity to keep the housing and economic recovery going by making the tax credit available to more homebuyers. Housing has always been a primary driver of the Empire State's economy and this action would help ensure it is positioned to lead the recovery.''
Even though the county's housing sales numbers increased, the state's fell. The state housing market still posted a solid monthly sales total in August despite falling slightly below July's level, which ended five consecutive months of growth, according to preliminary existing single-family sales data accumulated by the New York State Association of Realtors.
''New York's housing market continues to maintain a strong sales pace, helped in part by the $8,000 federal first-time homebuyer credit, as evidenced by the August total,'' MacKenzie said.
''We believe the slight decrease in sales is not an indicator of any change in the overall health of the New York housing market, and we anticipate the market will remain active into the early fall.''
Murray said there is really no explanation for why the county's housing sales numbers increased in August while the state sales dropped.
''I think the stats are going to fluctuate,'' she said. ''Different markets have their own pockets.''

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