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April 20, 2009 - 5:10pm

Genesee County housing market poised for uptick, but not the bounce elsewhere in region

posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, real estate.

The regional real estate market may be picking up steam, but the impact is muffled in Genesee County, according to Howard Cohen, owner of FearyCohen Realty in Batavia.

Cohen said since the Batavia area is considered a bedroom community -- meaning a lot of folks commute elsewhere to work -- it doesn't get big ups or downs in the market that metro and resort areas do.

"We have a stable market," Cohen said. "Most people tend to stay in the area, even when they buy up."

The Democrat and Chronicle reported this weekend that a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers is heating up home sales.

"The tax credit is making homes go off the shelves," said Garry Britton, an agent at Nothnagle's Fairport office.

Homes priced below $150,000 in good condition are moving swiftly, followed by those under $200,000.

The tax credit is available for first-time buyers, and returning buyers who haven't owned a home for at least three years, who purchase a home by Dec. 31. It allows them to get a tax rebate of up to 10 percent of the selling price, up to $8,000.

Existing home sales for January through March were 1,648 compared to 2,112 in the first quarter of 2008. That's a drop of 22 percent, according to the report released Thursday by the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors. The median house price of a house was $105,000, with half higher and half lower in price, which represents a 3-percent decline.

The data spans a 12-county area from Seneca Lake to Genesee County and Lake Ontario to the Southern Tier.

The tax credit may help improve those numbers, but it probably won't have much impact locally, according to Cohen.

"We don't have a lot of first-time buyers here," Cohen explained. "We're still in a bit of a slump, but sales are a little stronger that in the last period of 2008."

The folks at Bob Harris Realty said they are optimistic that the tax credit will help boost sales, plus buying typically picks up in springtime.

Real estate advisers say to avoid low-ball offers in these categories and to expect a negotiating window no greater than 5 percent.

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