The Capital District's real estate market is hot, especially in Saratoga. And several key factors are likely to keep it that way.
The region's economy is growing. A two percent rise in 2015 beat all other metro areas in New York state. And the Capital Region- which includes Saratoga County along with Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Warren, Washington, Columbia and Greene counties- was ranked the third best place in America to look for a tech job, behind San Jose and San Francisco.
People- and money- naturally go where the jobs are. But the ne plus ultra is the intangible allure of Saratoga.
"The Capital Region has a truly unique set of offerings," says Sharon Byrne, a real estate agent for Realty USA who sold more than $40 million worth of properties last year. And the broader region's job growth, coupled with Saratoga's lifestyle, makes Saratoga a focal point of the round or real estate growth.
"We have an amazing job market with GE, Global Foundries, Nanotech. But there's so much more," says Byrne, ticking off some highlights that focus on Saratoga. "It's the horse-racing season, it's SPAC, the fantastic state parks; it's the amazing universities, like Skidmore and RPI; Albany being the seat of state government, the museums. And the food and bar scene here is fantastic for people of all ages!"
This mixture of economic growth, culture and recreation is unique and is driving prices and sales. "2016 was the best year we have seen in the real estate market, possibly ever, and certainly in at least a decade," said Byrne.
To get some perspective on the market's rise, Saratoga Living tapped a handful of seasoned realtors to give us a glimpse into some of the choicest homes on the market in Saratoga Springs and beyond.
From a 10,000-square-foot, estate-style manse in Loudonville ($1.595 million) to a Mediterranean-style Tuscan villa on 41 acres in Brunswick ($2.6 million) or an ultra-luxe condo overlooking Congress Park in downtown Saratoga Springs ($1.49 million), there are hot properties for everyone to long for.
Saratoga Springs: The Hottest High-End Real Estate Market in Upstate New York?
There's good news and bad news about the market for luxury homes in Saratoga.
The good news is, if you want to build a sprawling, luxuriously appointed dream home- even one with views of Saratoga Lake or as the anchor of a horse farm- and have a budget of $1 million plus, your ambitious vision can be realized.
Several renowned builders, most notably Bonacio Construction, Witt Construction, Belmonte Builders, and Bella Home Builders, are creating stunning homes in coveted locations throughout Saratoga.
The bad news is, if you want to move into a lovely, already existing home in the $1-$2 million range, you may be out of luck. According to the online real estate marketplace Trulia, median home sales have increased by $46,500 (15 percent) over the past year, and average price per square foot for the same period spiked to $215 from $199, both of which are indications of a tight market.
Bidding wars are becoming increasingly frequent, explains Gerry Magoolaghan from Select by Sotheby's Realty, with many homes downtown in the seven-digit range disappearing after spending just hours on the market.
The exception to that rule is condos. A handful of spacious, judiciously appointed condominiums are springing up in downtown Saratoga Springs to satisfy the buyers seeking downtown walkability, without the pressure of upkeep that comes with some of the more prestigious older mansions.
"Downtown is definitely the hottest market," says Magoolaghan, who sold more than $20 million worth of properties last year. "I realized it was coming back in 2012 when I heard about a house on Spring Street that was going to be listed at a fairly high price and would require major renovation. We put in a bid before it hit the market for a client, only to find there were already multiple bids on the property.
"Since then, the housing and condo market has been going stronger than ever downtown, with empty nesters and people from other areas of the Capital District pouring in to take advantage of the incredible nightlife and cultural offerings of Saratoga," Magoolaghan says. "Right behind downtown in terms of desirability is the high-end developments with homes from established builders."
"Saratoga is unique," Byrne explains. "Even I'm amazed at the amount of activity in the market, but between condos, downtown properties, developments like Meadowbrook with big lots, homes that are up to 60,000 square feet and have estate-like privacy, a scattering of horse farms and homes on the lake, 50 properties sold for between $750,000 and $3.85 million last year."