The following information was sent in by the HUDSON GATEWAY ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, INC.--
2014 SECOND QUARTER RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE SALES REPORT
Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, New York
Closed residential real estate transactions during the second quarter of 2014 slackened in relation to the same period last year. Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, serving Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, reported 3,195 closings in the four counties, a decrease of 9.2% from the 3,519 closings reported during the second quarter of last year. These grand totals comprised sales of single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives and 2-4 family dwellings.
The second quarter closings largely reflected listing and showing activity that took place during the early months of the year. Many data providers and analysts, including the National Association of Realtors, ascribe at least some of the slowdown in sales here and nationally to exceptionally difficult winter weather conditions that discouraged prospective purchasers from getting out and researching properties of interest. The lower Hudson region undoubtedly experienced some of that effect, but in our case there may also have been an equal or even larger effect from a simple market correction of the fast pace of sales in 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.
Westchester and Orange Counties experienced the largest percentage year to year falloffs in sales at 12.0% and 12.2% respectively. In Westchester the slowdown was concentrated in the single family house sector, 13.5%, followed by condominiums, 10.1%. Orange County’s single family house sales were down by 12.1%. Putnam County sales were down by just 2.9%. Rockland County stood out from its neighbors with an actual overall increase of 6.2%.
Overall inventory registered with the multiple listing service at the close of the quarter (June 30) amounted to 12,383 units, an increase of 8.8% from the same date a year ago. Westchester weighed in to that total with an increase of 3.0%, to 6,342 units; its single family house inventory increased by 5.7% to 3,913 units. Orange County, whose real estate market is only about one third of Westchester’s, closed the quarter with 3,023 single family houses listed, an increase 19.9% from last year. Orange County’s recovery from the recession has been hampered by the need to work through a supply of distressed properties as well as short sales that take longer than average to process, both factors that allow inventory to accumulate.
There was a mixed picture on prices in the Hudson Gateway region by the end of the quarter. Westchester posted a median1 sale price of $651,250 for single family houses, an increase of only $1,250 or 0.2% from last year, though still well above its medians for 2011 and 2012. Its condominium sector picked up, however, with a 5.5% increase to a $363,750 median.
Also gaining in price were Rockland County single family houses, with a 4.8% increase to a median of $408,750. Rockland also did well with condominiums, 3.5% to $222,500. Putnam and Orange counties posted decreases, however. Putnam’s single family house median decreased by 8.2% to $285,000, and Orange’s decreased by 3.0% to $232,500. Again, Orange County’s market is constrained by its relatively larger supply of problem properties compared to the other properties.
The pause in price gains and sales volumes in the Hudson Gateway region is not severe but it is a bit of a surprise in that there are no obvious external factors that drove it, other than bad winter weather, an assertion that is likely but cannot be proved. For example, mortgage interest rates have remained low, ranging from an average 4.6% on a conventional 30-year loan made during the winter months, to about 4.2% at the close of the second quarter. Admittedly, tougher lending criteria have made it harder for consumers to obtain a mortgage but that is a condition that has been in place for several years now.
Two other factors that are confidence builders for home buying decisions are the unemployment rate and the state of the equities markets. For the former, there has been at least a full percentage point decrease in each of the four counties in the past year. The most recently posted rates range from 4.7% (Putnam) to 5.7% (Orange), with 5.1% (Westchester) and 4.8% (Rockland) in between. As for the equity markets there has been a vigorous bull market leading up to, and surpassing, the 17,000 threshold for the DJIA.
The best bet, then, for figuring out what occurred with prices and volumes during the second quarter is to patiently wait for another quarter to see if there was no more than a technical correction or if some other trend is in play.
Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
The Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (HGMLS) is a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc. (HGAR). The MLS’s principal service territory consists of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. It also provides services to Realtors operating in Bronx, Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster Counties. The reported transactions do not include all real estate sales in the area or all sales assisted by the participating offices but they are fairly reflective of general market conditions. HGMLS does not provide data on sub-county geographic areas. Persons desiring sub-county data are invited to contact participating real estate offices in the desired areas. Any text or data from this report may be reprinted with attribution to Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc. as the source. Prior reports dating back to 1981 are available on the Realtor Association’s website, www.hgar.com; click on Market Statistics. A membership directory searchable by municipality is also available on that site.
1 The median sale price is the mid-point of all reported sales, i.e., half of the properties sold for more than the median price and half for less. The median is relatively unaffected by unusually low or high sale prices. The mean sale price is the arithmetic average, i.e., the sum of all sales prices divided by the number of sales. The mean does reflect the influence of sales at unusually low or high prices.
Changes to the Report
Starting with the first quarter 2014 report the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service has added new features to its quarterly market presentation and may add more as the year progresses. In 2012 and 2013 the MLS reports were compiled from two different databases, one serving Westchester and Putnam and one serving Rockland and Orange. In March of 2014, those databases were merged and are now supported by a new computer system serving all four counties uniformly. The new system and database have facilitated the following changes:
1) Condominiums and cooperatives are tracked as separate property types in all four core counties served by HGMLS. Westchester had always done this but Putnam, Rockland and Orange had compiled condominiums and cooperatives as one single property type, largely because there are so few co-ops in those counties. Counting co-ops separately may result in small numbers that sometimes generate large swings in percentage calculations, but that minor issue will be countered by improved accuracy in the important condominium sector in the region, and by uniformity of content across all four counties.
2) The Westchester section of the market report has long included 2-4 family houses, but the other three counties have not. Starting with this report, 2-4 family house sales and price data will be presented for all four counties retroactively to 2011. However, end-of-quarter inventory is not available retroactively to 2011 in Putnam, Rockland and Orange, thus this particular data series starts cold with the 2014 first quarter report.
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HUDSON GATEWAY ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, INC.
60 South Broadway, White Plains, New York 10601
914.681.0833 ▪ Fax 914.681.6044 ▪ www.HGAR.com
9 Coates Drive, Suite 1, Goshen, New York 10924 ▪ 845.294.7905
2 Medical Park Drive, Suite 17A, West Nyack, New York 10994 ▪ 845.735.0075