Warmer Weather Fuels Significant Increase in Home Listings

John Jordan | May 2015

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WHITE PLAINS—As the industry had hoped, the warmer weather has prompted many homeowners to put their homes on the market for sale. In the HGAR region, for sale inventory has spiked considerably of late, according to figures compiled by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc.

Earlier this year, several Realtors interviewed by Real Estate In-Depth complained that inventory was tight and that buyers had few options, particularly when it came to quality, attractively priced homes in the region.

Since the beginning of the year, the HGAR region, which includes Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties, has seen a nearly 22% rise in home listings. Homeowners flocked to their local Realtor offices in the month of April as the market saw 1,598 units added to the HGMLS residential for sale listings in the region in that month span.

The HGMLS reported that home sale listings in its market area totaled 11,950 units as of Jan. 1, 2015. By Feb. 1 listings rose slightly to 12,192 and to 12,341 by March 1. According to HGMLS statistics, listings began to rise further to 12,922 in April and spiked considerably by its May 1 report, which showed a sharp increase in listings region-wide to 14,520. Indications are that listings have continued to increase since then, said Gary T.A. Connolly, director, Multiple Listing Service & Information Systems for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc. and the HGMLS.

From the start of the year, for sale listings have risen 21.5% in the HGAR region. The May 1, 2015 listing total of 14,520 was 17.2% higher than the residential for-sale inventory of 12,383 as of June 30, 2014. The second quarter 2014 listings total was 8.8% higher than those posted during the same period in 2013.

In terms of single-family homes, region-wide listings have increased 25% from 8,063 in January to 10,102 in early May. By county, Westchester has seen single-family home listings rise from 2,195 in January to 3,364 in May. Putnam single-family listings have risen from 635 to 756, Orange County from 2,305 to 2,581 and Rockland County from 990 to 1,203 during that same period.

Realtors interviewed by Real Estate In-Depth recently said they were aware that listings have risen, as is the case with normal spring markets. Whether this sharp increase in listings will lead to a stronger sales market in the months ahead is still unclear, they noted.

Mark Boyland, partner and associate broker of Keller Williams NY Realty, said he has noticed an increase in inventory this spring, but stressed that comparisons to last year are somewhat misleading due to the extremely harsh winter the region experienced in 2014, which kept buyers on the sidelines and homeowners from putting a “For Sale” sign on their front lawn.

“2014 was a really tough winter. It was very extensive,” Boyland said. “It really pushed the spring market into June and July.”

He said that buyer demand will continue to increase due to the improving residential real estate market and a growing number of Baby Boomers who will be looking to either downsize and remain in the area or relocate out of state.

Another factor Boyland noted is the distressed housing market. “The distressed market for our market area (Westchester County) is ramping up,” he said. “You had a huge increase in filings in 2013, a huge increase in judgments in 2014 and now those judgments are coming to bear. People are getting sale date notices and they are saying ‘let me short sale the house before it forecloses.’”

“The challenge is you have a lot of over-priced inventory on the market right now.” —Mark Boyland, partner Keller Williams NY Realty

Boyland said that the distressed home sale market died down last year and he shared that he and his team were contemplating getting out of that niche side of the business. However, he said beginning in January, his team has been swamped with leads for people who are possibly looking to engage in a short sale on their home in Westchester.

While the fact that rising inventory is good news for the market, Boyland related that from what he is hearing, the quality of the listings may be in question. He noted that in talking to his sales team, a majority of the new listings are overpriced and “buyers are not getting excited by them.”

“Every so often, one or two out of 10 that comes on are priced relatively well, and in those cases people are jumping all over it,” he said. “The challenge is you have a lot of over-priced inventory on the market right now.”

Russ Woolley, president of Wright Bros. Real Estate Inc. of Nyack, said that the increase in inventory in Rockland County is attributable to the improving conditions of the residential real estate market. “People are taking advantage of higher prices and multiple offers that they hear their friends and neighbors are getting,” Woolley said. He added that there are many homeowners who have been waiting for years for the market to improve to list their homes.

Woolley and Katheryn DeClerck, associate broker with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Warwick, agreed that the listings increase in the region will not necessarily mean significantly strong sales volume going forward.

DeClerck for example said that there is a tremendous oversupply of houses in the $500,000 and higher range in Orange County, which at present have seen limited buyer demand.

Another issue for Orange County continues to be the distressed home market, which has continued to put downward pressure on home sale prices. Woolley on the other hand said that the distressed market in communities he serves in Rockland County has very little impact on the overall county marketplace.

Woolley and DeClerck said that their respective firms have numerous deals in contract and related that it will be interesting to see what impact current sale activity will have on the inventory numbers by the end of June.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth