Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties remain sellers' markets for residential real estate, with median prices up, days on the market down and inventories that are generally shrinking, according to new data.

“The mid-Hudson Valley is still a sellers' market, interest rates are still at historic lows, and there seems to be a pent-up demand, but the changes in the tax code still have people a little bit nervous about purchases,” said Joe Czajka, a senior vice president with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, a local research institute.

Czajka was referring to a provision in the recent federal tax overhaul that’s walloped New Yorkers by sharply limiting their deductions for state and local property taxes.

Nonetheless, the mid-Hudson's real estate market has remained robust. The local market's strength also has come despite softness in the nationwide residential real estate market.

Orange County’s sales total for single-family homes fell 6.7 percent to 1,613 in the first six months of 2019 compared with 1,728 last year, according to statistics from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

But local Realtors say that's because there are fewer homes to buy. The county's inventory fell to 1,834 unsold listed single-family homes through the end of June from 1,867 midway through 2018, down from 1,995 in 2017 and 2,375 in 2016.

All the while, Orange County’s median price for single-family homes has risen steadily, climbing 5.3 percent to $260,000 halfway through 2019 versus $247,000 a year ago. It was $232,000 in 2017 and $219,850 three years ago.

“The buyers are crawling all over each other as homes are hitting the market,” said Laurel Lustgarten, a Realtor with Better Home and Gardens/Rand Realty. “It truly has been a feeding frenzy because we have fewer houses and more buyers. Overall, it’s been a phenomenal time to be a seller.”

The average number of days on the market for Orange County's single-family homes decreased 8 percent to 101 through June 30 from 110 last year, down from 120 in 2017 and 138 in 2016.

Orange County's condos are especially hot, plummeting to just 71 days on the market in 2019 from 100 last year and as many as 120 days in 2016. The median sales price for condos rose to $182,000 from $159,115 last year. This year's price is up $43,000 just since 2016.

Washingtonville native and Beacon resident Vinny Zeoli, 30, a lab testing supervisor at Montefiore Saint Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh, has been struggling to buy a single-family house for a year.

Competition from house flippers has made it even tougher to find a reasonably priced Orange County home with a one- to two-acre lot, Zeoli said.

Real-estate speculators and other investors made up more than 11 percent of U.S. home purchasers in 2018, an all-time high, according to the latest data from market researcher CoreLogic Inc.

“It’s a tough market for a buyer right now,” said Zeoli, who spends $1,300 a month for his 500-square-foot, one-bedroom Beacon rental. “There’s very limited entry-level inventory (for single-family homes) — something that’s affordable for a young professional or a young family, something that’s not a $400,000 or $500,000 new build.”

In Sullivan County, the number of single-family homes sold fell 11 percent to 411 through the first half of 2019 from 462 in 2018, while the median sales price skyrocketed.

It climbed 19.1 percent to $140,000 midway through 2019 from $117,500 in 2018. As recently as 2016, that median sales price was $100,000.

“The market around the county is very vibrant, there’s a lot of optimism,” said William Rieber Jr., Thompson’s supervisor and co-owner of Rieber Realty in Monticello.

“You’ve got this resurgence, with low unemployment, and high employment, which is even more important because people are in the position to buy and qualify for a mortgage,” Rieber added.

Sullivan County’s inventory is actually up slightly, growing to 997 unsold single-family homes listed midway through 2019 from 962 in 2018 and 1,204 in 2017.

But that’s because sellers are continuing to list their homes, after years of waiting on the sidelines for Sullivan County’s market to improve, Reiber said.

The average Sullivan County single-family home's days on the market, meanwhile, fell nearly 26 percent to 158 in 2019 from 213 in 2018. That total was as high as 246 as recently as 2016.

As in Sullivan County, Ulster County’s single-family home sales tally fell, dipping 5 percent to 694 through the end of June, from 733 a year ago and 757 in 2017, according to the Ulster County Board of Realtors.

But that’s due to the hot market’s lack of inventory, said Harris Safier, associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties.

Indeed, Ulster County’s unsold listed single-family homes tally fell to 668 halfway through 2019,  down from 750 in 2018 and 822 in 2017 — pointing to a housing shortage.

Ulster County’s median single-family home price has just kept climbing, rising 5.3 percent to $231,750 at June’s end compared with last year. That’s up from $198,000 in 2017 and $195,000 in 2016.

“Right now, things are still so affordable here” in Ulster County, said Safier, who touted Kingston's value. “Prices have just been obscene over the last several years in Manhattan, Brooklyn and closer to New York City, and young people just can’t tolerate it.”

daxelrod@th-record.com