2016 FIRST QUARTER REAL ESTATE SALES REPORT
Real Estate In-Depth | April 2016
Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, New York
Editor’s Note: The following is the full text version of the 2016 First 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 – Realtors operating in the four-county lower Hudson region served by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors reported 3,391 closed residential transactions during the first three months of 2016, an increase of 530 sales or 18.5% from the same period in 2015. The burst of closings largely resulted from market activity that took place during the winter months of 2015 and the first few weeks of 2016. The chart below shows that first quarter closings are not only increasing but are accelerating with year-to-year increases of 10.8% from 2013 to 2014, and 12.1% from 2014 to 2015. The sales activity in 2016 was accompanied by relatively flat average prices.
Westchester County, typically accounting for 50-60% of the region’s real estate sales, posted a 14.0% first quarter gain over 2015. Setting aside its relatively small multi-family sector, cooperatives were the best performing sector with a 17.5% increase over last year. Condominiums followed at 15.7% and single family houses at 11.2%. Altogether there were 1,847 sales, an increase of 227 units over last year’s first quarter total.
Orange County continued its high volume sales activity of the past several years with a remarkable 33.0% increase this past quarter: 822 units in 2016 versus 618 in 2015.
The backbone of the Orange County market is its concentration of single family houses in the range of $200,000 to $230,000, a pricing level that is the most affordable in the region.
Lightly populated Putnam County posted 255 sales, a 30.1% gain over last year. Rockland posted the lowest overall increase among the four counties, 9.4%, although its single family house sector stood out with a respectable 16.6% increase over last year.
The overall end-of-quarter supply of properties for sale in the region hardly budged from 9,662 units in 2005 to 9,703 units in 2016 although there were differences among the counties. Westchester, having the most housing stock, also posted the highest percentage of increase, 3.2%, among the counties. Rockland’s inventory also increased, by 1.5%. Putnam and Orange Counties, on the other hand, experienced decreases of 6.6% and 2.8% respectively. As observed in prior reports, the region’s supply of for-sale housing seems sufficient to support increasingly high volumes of sales without undue upward pressure on prices. In fact, median* and mean* sale prices actually decreased year to year in most cases.
Median Price Single Family Homes
Westchester was one of those with a decrease. The median sale price of a single family house was $569,950 – down 5.0% from last year’s $600,000 (and 2014 as well). Rockland experienced a slight decrease, less than a percentage point, to $399,000 from $400,000 in 2015 for a single family house.
Orange County, whose median sale price has bumped along a $210,000-225,000 track for the past several years, saw an increase this quarter of 2.1%, from $210,500 to $215,000. Putnam County posted a very high increase – 10.5% to $300,000 – but this was against a small base of sales where a dozen or so sales can yield large percentage changes.
The lower Hudson Valley real estate market is running smoothly and at high speed. The supply of housing seems adequate to support the high volume of sales. Price increases are not outpacing inflation and are falling back a little in some areas and among some property types. That easing of prices probably is one of the major factors driving prospective purchasers to enter a local real estate market where buyers’ and sellers’ expectations are in accord.
The environment that has enabled this performance has been relatively stable for the past several years. High unemployment, which makes consumers fearful for their own jobs and thus dampens their enthusiasm for acting on their own real estate needs, has steadily dropped to 4.5% or lower in all four HGAR counties. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows. The recent action of the Federal Reserve to raise its base rate to 25 basis points is not perceived to have any meaningful impact on the real estate market. Volatility in the equity markets could put a damper on enthusiasm for real estate in the short term. So could chaotic post-election government in Washington. But for the time being there is every reason to expect that our local real estate market will do well for at least the next two quarters of 2016.
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.
* 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.