Pandemic sends area home prices through the roof, tempered by inflation

Jamie Mazuryk estimates that about 90 percent of offers on homes she sold during the pandemic came in over the asking price.

“If it was priced right, it was going over,” said Mazuryk, a real-estate agent with C.M. Fox. The same held true for homes receiving multiple bids. “Pretty much every single house that was priced right” had more than one bid come in, she said. 

Home prices in Albany County have risen about 17.7 percent since the pandemic began, from $225,000 in March 2020 to $264,900 in October, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. The median price of an existing home sold in the United States in October was nearly $354,000, up about 13 percent from the same time last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In the seven municipalities of The Enterprise’s coverage area — Altamont, Berne, Guilderland, Knox, New Scotland, Rensselaerville, Voorheesville, and Westerlo — the jump in the the median property sale price was even more stark, over 33 percent, from $239,500 in March 2020 (based on 32 sales) to $320,200 in November (based on 43 sales), according to home-sale data from the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services SalesWeb site

While the pandemic has boosted local home prices hard and fast, taking the long view of trends, COVID-19 appears to have only slightly accelerated nearly decade-long steady increase in median home prices — if inflation is taken into account. 

For example, in 2012, the median price for a home sale in one of the seven municipalities The Enterprise covers was $231,700. But one dollar in 2012 (July of each year was used in the calculations), with inflation added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, equated to $1.19 in October 2021. So the $231,700 home in 2012 costs $275,723 this year. 




 The last year has been unprecedented, Mazuryk said. 

Most homes have seen multiple offers, there’s not enough inventory, and there’s been an influx of buyers.

One Schuster Road home in Guilderland listed by Mazuryk had seven offers. It initially had a price of $349,900 but sold for $380,000, about 8.6 percent above the asking price.

“I just priced it right and we got seven offers in a matter of a week,” she said. The Schuster Road home was listed for sale on May 13 and had a pending sale just four days later, according to one online realtor site

The seven-offer situations aren’t really happening anymore, Mazuryk said, but there continues to be multiple offers on homes, often in the two-to-three range. Mazuryk said she thinks the market will ramp up again because mortgage interest rates, which are often pegged to 10-Year Treasury bond yields, remain low.


During the pandemic, Mazuryk has seen a lot of first-time buyers. “In the past, it was mostly their first or second time,” she said. “Now it’s a lot more firsts; way more firsts in the last couple years.”

Mazuryk, who has a team of three Realtors and an assistant, said there’s been an influx of buyers — people in their late 20s and early 30s — who want their first home but the stock just isn’t there. There were 425 homes for sale in Albany County at the end of October, down 30 percent from a year earlier, which is two-and-a-half times the national average shortage

Most of her clients are millennials, Mazuryk said. 

“A lot of younger people are joining the buyer pool,” she said, which mirrors the national trend. Millennials, the group of people born between 1981 to 1996, were, as recently as two years ago, thought to be a generation of permanent renters. But millennials hit a housing milestone in early 2019; it was the first time the group accounted for over half of all new home loans, which it continues to do. As of 2019, the most recent data available, millennials accounted for 37 percent of home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Mazuryk said some buyers are eschewing big weddings, others have had their parents pull from 401Ks. Some buyers have received help from their parents in the form of straight cash.

“There’s a lot of cash deals; a ton of cash deals, which has totally been unheard of,” she said.

The two biggest benefits of a cash sale are that the person selling the home gets paid faster than with a normal mortgage and banks don’t get involved, Mazuryk said.

Pandemic-related federal stimulus checks, as well as forbearance on student loans payments, in addition to the red-hot stock market, are other cited reasons for the increase in younger buyers.

Mazuryk doesn’t foresee a 2008-like housing crash because “banks aren’t loaning money to people that don’t have it,” she said. “You either have it or you don’t have it.”

One of the root causes of the Great Recession was banks handing out loans to people who had no — or really poor — credit history, and when history inevitably repeated itself and those buyers were unable to pay back their massive mortgages the banks had blithely forked over, the housing-credit market collapsed. 

“It’s so strict nowadays; it’s so strict,” Mazuryk said of trying to get a mortgage loan. She thinks millennials don’t want to have a lot of debt.  “No one’s taking 30- or 15-year mortgages anymore; the really cool thing is to not have a mortgage,” she said. She sees more younger buyers with 10-year adjustable-rate mortgages

The right price

Pricing a home correctly is imperative, Mazuryk said. 

“There was no question,” she said that homes priced between $250,000 and $350,000 that were clean and staged properly were going to get multiple officers.

“Cleanliness is a big thing, [a] big factor,” she said.

A home could be outdated, she said, “no one really cares”; as long as it’s clean, a buyer can handle that. But if a home is “outdated and dirty and disgusting,” that will be reflected in the price, “and those houses are not going to go in multiple-offer situations.”

From the start of the pandemic, roughly mid-March 2020, to end of November, the state’s SalesWeb site lists about 1,210 residential sales — single-, two-, and multi-family homes, by no means a verifiable complete accounting of home sales in the area — in the seven municipalities of the Enterprise’s coverage area: 368 of those sales are between $250,000 and $350,000; another 477 are below $250,000; and the remaining 365 are above $350,000. 

Save for Guilderland and Voorheesville, the other municipalities The Enterprise reports on saw more homes sold in 2020 than they had in any of the previous eight years, and have the mortgage-recording tax to prove it. 



New York State, according to the Department of Taxation and Finance, “imposes a tax on the privilege of recording a mortgage on real property located within the state.”

In Albany County, residents pay a recording tax of $1.25 per $100 of mortgage. The local municipality receives 25 cents, as does the county, in addition to the Capital District Transportation Authority, and 50 cents is returned to the state, which in turn sends some of that money back to the county while keeping some to help fund the Mortgage Insurance Agency.

Mortgage taxes dispersed in June were collected for the six-month period between October 2020 and March 2021.

Guilderland, for example, received $713,717 on a mortgage count of 814. For the previous six-month period, the town received $820,688 from 724 mortgages, according to the county.

New Scotland received about $216,000 in mortgage taxes for the first six months of this year, which was revenue based on a mortgage count of 262. For the previous mortgage-tax dispersal from the county, from December 2020 and which covered April through September of that year, there 217 mortgages recorded in New Scotland for which the town received about $172,500





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