During the last quarter of the year, any homebuyer prospect can tell you that it hasn’t been a sure thing that you can get the house you’ve set your cap on. In today’s market, if a house is priced right and is in good condition, it doesn’t last long on the market. Further, we’ve seen the return of multiple offers and bidding wars as buyers have returned to the game and inventory has remained tight.
According to a report released last Thursday by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR) which reports on real estate sales in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, home sales in this region continued to be rigorous in volume and moderate price changes through the third quarter, representing an increase of 15.2% in home sales over the third quarter results of last year.
Specifically in Westchester, the sales of single family homes increased during this period from 1,935 units to 2,065, or 6.7%. Sales of condos jumped significantly from 330 units to 403, an increase of 22.1% and co-ops jumped from 481 units to 546, an increase of 13.5%.
In Putnam, sales were more dramatic with single family homes increasing from 233 to 275 units or 18 %, and condos increasing from 27 to 41 or 51.9%;
The rapid pace of sales all year long and into the third quarter put some downward pressure on the supply of available properties posted with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). In our area, Westchester experienced a decrease in inventory of 4.3% and Putnam of 2.1%.
Leah Caro, President of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and President of Bronxville Real Estate in Bronxville, commented on the last quarter as “holding steady with the modest increase in sales in Westchester and with prices not becoming too overbearing for purchasers to stay in the marketplace.”
Of particular interest to Caro was the significant increase in sales of condominiums. “Condos and particularly co-ops took the hardest hit during the recession, in the double digits,” she said, “and the fact that they’ve rebounded now is indicative that there are first time purchasers moving out of rentals and jumping into ownership. At the same time, those condo sellers can be buying into a single family home.
“When we see that all segments of the marketplace showing an improvement, it means health in the real estate market,” she continued. “When one segment over performs or under performs another, it shows that something is out of balance.
“As in the last quarter, I talked about the ‘tale of two inventories.’ Homes that were priced well got multiple offers and sold well, while homes that were overly ambitious in their pricing did not sell and are coming off the market. Maybe those owners had the luxury of time to have the market catch up to the price they’re seeking. Because of that, we are seeing inventory levels that are pretty stable. I think the number of sales looks good.”
According to the HGAR report, although the region’s inventory has been trending downwards as a result of strong market activity, it has not shrunk so much or so rapidly as to put a crimp in the continuing market improvement. Further, there doesn’t appear to be so much of a decrease as to generate significant upward pressures on prices. In fact, there were price decreases in some market sectors
In Westchester for instance, the third quarter median sale price of a single family house was $676,500, representing a price decrease of $6,000 or nearly one percent from last year. In contrast, Putnam’s median price of $335,000 was $15,000 or 4.7% higher than last year
The closed real estate sales reported here largely reflect successful marketing and showing activity that took place during the spring and early summer months of 2015. At that time there were favorable conditions for a healthy market, including stable mortgage interest rates in a tight range around an average 4.0% for a 30-year conventional loan, and even lower rates from other mortgage products.
Also in that period, acting as a confidence-building factor for prospective homebuyers, unemployment rates were decreasing and new jobs were generally increasing. HGAR’s overall assessment of the report was that “our local regional real estate market has had a good run and remains poised for more as conditions permit.”
Leah Caro projects that there may be sustained momentum through the fourth quarter and advises sellers that anyone coming out to view homes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s “are not folks who have nothing to do. I would advise sellers to keep their homes on the market during the fourth quarter,” she said, “because they’ll be inconvenienced less in that there are fewer buyers out there, but those folks who come out tend to be real buyers rather than lookers.”
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.