Buffalo ranks as 4th strongest housing market

Buffalo ranks fourth among the 25 strongest housing markets in the nation, according to a Forbes magazine report.

It’s an honor area home owners and real estate agents can take some comfort in, although reflects the region’s lack of a run-up in values.

The region’s housing strength is a result of Buffalo not being a “boomtown.” It’s the same story with the other urban areas at the top of the list, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, which conducted the research for Forbes.

“None participated in the housing boom,” Zandi said, refering to his rankings which put McAllen, Texas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and El Paso, Texas, as the top five markets on the list.

The Forbes piece explains housing markets in upstate New York never had the ups and downs of some hot market in the rest of the country. Zandi predicts home prices in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany should remain steady in the coming year. For Buffalo, he forecasts no more than a 1 percent decline in values.

Moody’s is predicting an average 15 percent decline across the U.S. housing market as a whole.

Local residential sales data collected by the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors bear out the Forbes/Moody’s research. In November, the most recent month for which BNAR data is available, the number of residential sales in Erie and Niagara Counties dropped a whopping 21 percent, but among the 714 units that sold, the average sale price climbed 23 percent from the prior year.

But from January through November, the region’s home sales were down just 7 percent from the same period a year ago. That drop was not been as precipitous as in some metro areas that enjoyed more robust gains when the housing market was booming.