Housing fulfills a basic community need and is a key segment of the local economy. In this section, we evaluate trends related to homeownership, renting and indicators of the area real estate market. In all cases, comparisons to the state reflect the state excluding New York City.
In summary, Cayuga and Seneca have:
- Affordable housing and homeownership rates above the state and nation
- Rising median home sales prices compared to 2000, even after adjusting for inflation
- Affordable rent well below state and national levels
In 2006-10, the homeownership rate was 72% in Cayuga and 77% in Seneca, compared to 71% at the state level and 67% nationally. Rates have remained fairly stable since 2000, fluctuating by a point or two, with the exception of the rate in Seneca, which increased nearly 4%. In Cayuga, homeownership rates were highest in Fleming, Owasco and Throop, all with rates of 95% or higher, while the lowest rate was in Auburn (49%). In Seneca, the highest rate was in Fayette (90%) while the lowest was in Seneca Falls (65%).
The ratio of median home value to median household income provides an indication of how affordable housing is in an area. A ratio of less than 2 or 3 is considered affordable. In 2006-2010, the housing affordability ratio was about 1.7 for Cayuga and Seneca, compared to a state ratio of 3.4 and a national ratio of 2.9. Since 2000, the ratio increased 10% in Cayuga and 8% in Seneca, far less than the increases of 56% in the state and 37% in the nation.
Median home sales prices have continued to rise, even as the number of sales has declined in recent years in the counties. In 2010, the median single-family home sale price was $106,750 in Cayuga and $98,000 in Seneca, up 28% in Cayuga and 3% in Seneca since 2000. That compares to an increase of 23% at the state level.
From 2009 to 2010, the number of single-family homes sold in both counties declined 12%, a larger drop than the 5% decline in the state. In Cayuga, home sales had been increasing through 2005, then began to decline each year though the county had a 4% increase in 2009. In Seneca, home sales fluctuated a bit more, declining in 3 of the 8 years for which data were available. The declines mirror a slowing of the state real estate market, which took the biggest hit in 2008 when sales fell 14%.
Rents in the counties were well below state and national levels and considered quite affordable. In 2006-10, the median rent was about $630 in Cayuga and $660 in Seneca, compared to a state median of $970 and national median of $840. Considered as a proportion of median income of renters, rent consumed 28% of income in Cayuga and 29% in Seneca, below the state level of 34% and the national level of 32%. Thirty percent is considered the threshold for affordability. Since 2000, the proportion of income going to rent in Cayuga and Seneca increased a percentage point or two, while state and national figures increased 6 points.