By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY - The number of closed home sales, median sales price and pending sales in New York increased in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2012, according to the state Association of Realtors.
The inventory of homes for sale reached its lowest point since January 2006, the group said Monday.
"It's simple economics at work in the statewide housing market," Duncan MacKenzie, the group's CEO, said in a statement. "As buyer demand increased and the housing supply decreased in the 2013 first quarter, the result was a nearly four-percent growth in the statewide median sales price compared to the 2012 first quarter."
First quarter closed sales were 2 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2012, up to 18,251, and the number of homes for sale dropped 20 percent. Pending sales were up 11.5 percent between January through March, to a total of 24,843, while new listings fell 11 percent.
"We continue to project a strong spring market as buyers try to avoid further price increases, while taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates," said MacKenzie.
The 2013 first quarter median sales price was $218,000, up 3.8 percent. In March alone, the median price was $220,000, up 5.8 percent compared to March 2012.
In the Rochester area, home sales dropped 7.2 percent in the first quarter, according to a report this month by the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Inc. The median sale price in the region increased 3.4 percent, to $120,000.
Across the state, counties reported fewer listings and higher median sales price.
Home prices were up in the Southern Tier between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013. In Broome County, prices increased 9.4 percent to a median of $106,366; they were up 2.5 percent to $101,500 in Chemung County. In Tompkins, the median sale price increased 5.8 percent to $167,450.
The median sales price, though, fell 3.5 percent in Dutchess County -- to a median of $224,250. The prices were up in neighboring Ulster County, by 6.7 percent to $190,000.
And Chemung diverged from most counties, which had a decline in home sales. Homes for sale in Chemung was up 18 percent in the first quarter, from 323 to 380 homes.
The housing numbers for the lower Hudson Valley were not released Monday.