First Quarter Home Sales in HGAR Region Were Simply ‘Staggering’

Real Estate In-Depth | April 7, 2021

WHITE PLAINS—Officials with OneKey MLS and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors described first quarter 2021 residential sales in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Bronx counties as “staggering” and “unprecedented” with sales in certain markets as much as 62% higher than a year earlier.

Editor’s Note: The following is the full text of the OneKey MLS residential sales report for the first quarter of 2021.

Residential home sales in the lower Hudson Valley for the first quarter of 2021 were staggering, even to anyone regularly monitoring sales activity. The residential market is normally cyclical with seasonal low sales in the first quarter as sellers begin to prepare their homes for the traditional “spring selling season.” Covid-19 has served to create a marketplace that defies that predictability. While first quarter sales in 2020 were relatively strong, a reflection of activity that occurred in late 2019, the true effects of the pandemic were seen in the second and third quarters of 2020 when sales, not unexpectedly, took a strong hit. During that time, however, a migration from city to suburbs began taking hold as people felt the need to escape the close confines of city living and working from home created a need for larger living spaces.

Residential sales for the first quarter were unprecedented for the period and likely not sustainable over the long term. In terms of units sold, sales in Westchester were up 35.3% or 2,462 units as compared to 1,819 units in 2020. Orange County experienced a 54.2% increase in sales going from 896 units in 2020 to 1,382 units in 2021 first quarter. Putnam and Sullivan counties were each up over 62%, Putnam with 427 sales compared to 263 in 2020 and Sullivan County with 362 units sold from 223 units in 2020. In Rockland County sales increased 36.5% to 823 units from 603 in 2020. While not considered a suburb, sales in Bronx County increased 31.6% at 567 units sold compared to 431 units in the first quarter of 2020.

Median sales price (the point that indicates the exact middle of the market) also increased in every area and has now exceeded the “bubble” prices of the 2008-2009 market. The median sale price for a single-family residential unit in Orange County rose 22.5% to $340,000 (from $277,450 one year ago) exceeded by an increase of 36.2% in Sullivan County to $221,00 from $162,250 one year ago.

The median price in Westchester County, which has the highest price points, rose 10.8% to $708,995 from $640,000 last year. The median sale price for a single- family residence rose in Putnam County by 16.4% to $390,000 (from $335,000), in Rockland County by 14.4% to $525,000 (from $459,000), in Sullivan County by 36.2% to $221,000 (from $162,250) and in Bronx County to $541,000 (from $520,000) as compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Sales of condominium units increased in in all counties (except Sullivan) but a more interesting number may be the increase in co-op sales in Westchester and Bronx counties. Co-op sales have been lagging in both counties for the past year but rebounded in the first quarter of 2021. It is likely that this rebound can be attributed to the dearth of choices in other housing types as well as the fact that co-ops remain an affordable alternative, at a median sale price of $192,750 in Westchester County and $244,000 in Bronx County, for first-time buyers and other potential purchasers unable to afford rising single-family home prices.

While the overall economy has been struggling during the pandemic, the suburban real estate market has been an anomaly characterized by increasing sales, rising prices and increased demand. This raises questions about the sustainability of the current market. At what point will prices become too high, at what point will a lack of inventory (choice) discourage some buyers and while interest rates remain at historic lows, ameliorating some of the effects of rising prices, there have been recent upticks in mortgage rates which will affect affordability for some buyers. This being said, current properties in contract remain high indicating that the market will remain strong in the near term.

Data provided by OneKey MLS, one of the largest Realtor subscriber-based MLS’s in the country, dedicated to servicing more than 41,000 real estate professionals that serve Manhattan, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. OneKey MLS was formed in 2018, following the merger of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. For more information on OneKey MLS visit onekeymlsny.com.