Hudson Valley Home Sales Reach Pre-Recession Levels
Real Estate In-Depth | January 2016
Editor’s Note: The following is the full text version of the 2015 Fourth Quarter Residential Real Estate Sales Report for Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, New York released today by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
WHITE PLAINS—The recovery of the real estate market in the lower Hudson region continued apace in 2015 as total sales in the region reached and exceeded the 15,000 sales level last attained in the pre-recession years of 2006 and 2007. Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service reported 15,324 closings of residential transactions (excluding multi-family units) in 2015, an increase of 1,769 units or 13% over 2014’s level.
The largest increase on a percentage basis occurred in Orange County where the 3,284 reported sales were 26% ahead of last year’s total. On a straight volume basis, Westchester, as the largest county in the region, posted 9,401 sales for an increase of 9% over last year.
By property type, the condominium sector performed exceptionally well in 2015 in some counties. Orange County’s 356 condo sales were 31% more than last year, and Westchester’s total of 1,315 sales was up by 20%.
The brisk pace of sales across the region and among most of the property types tracked by the MLS (single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, 2-4 family houses) continued all year long and into the last three months of 2015. There were 4,313 closings in the fourth quarter, an increase of 16% over the comparable period in 2014. Those closings largely followed from marketing activity during the late summer and early autumn months.
Although the 2015 real estate market activity was fairly competitive, it was not so overheated as to drive the region’s housing prices to the excesses that characterized the pre-recession era. Some average pricing actually decreased. For example, the 2015 median sale price of a Westchester single-family house—$628,875—was 1% below its 2014 level. Orange County’s median of $225,000 was down by nearly 3% and Putnam’s median remained unchanged at $310,000. Rockland, in contrast to the others, posted a median house price of $415,000 for a nearly 4% gain over 2014. The mean sales prices of properties very generally tracked the pattern of medians, indicating that the various submarkets remained in balance with each other.
Also exhibiting a pattern of balance and restraint, the inventory of properties for sale (all property types in all counties) was 8,913 units at the close of 2015, just 1.2% more than at the close of 2014. Westchester had the largest increase with 2.2% for a total of 4,009 units. That slight increase should boost sales a bit in 2016.
There are reasons to continue to be optimistic for the local real estate market in 2016. As noted, the inventory situation appears to have found its correct level with respect to high volumes of sales. Pricing has stabilized too. Mortgage interest rates remain very low, and the prevailing opinion is that the recent increase in the Fed overnight rate is not going to have an important negative effect, if any at all. The region’s economy is sound; unemployment among the counties is less than 5%, which is generally regarded by many analysts as full employment. The chaos in the equity markets (DJ et. al.) of recent months is the sole dark cloud, but the connection with the real estate market, if any, is not well known. The outlook for our local real estate market is bright.