GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Numbers Count

Richard Haggerty | August 2018

Please excuse the bad pun, but numbers truly matter, especially numbers related to real estate market statistics. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc, released second quarter sales statistics last month, and for the most part the numbers were a continuation of the trends that we have seen for the last several quarters—moderate price increases, somewhat softer sales numbers and continued market pressure from chronic low inventory. As we indicated in the analysis for the second quarter statistics, the market appeared to be following a pattern of déjà vu in terms of price appreciation and constricting inventory.

Given the stable sales reported by HGAR in the second quarter, I was surprised when I saw several headlines and corresponding stories in other press publications that reported a distressed Westchester housing market with a steep decline in sales and panicked sellers. As John Jordan reports in the lead article for this month’s issue of Real Estate In-Depth, multiple trade press outlets cited a non-MLS report that indicated homes sales in Westchester fell 18% in the second quarter. Where did that number come from? I’m not completely sure of the source but I can say that it’s not even close to the 4.8% decline that HGAR reported in the second quarter. These other press outlets attributed the “steep” sales declines to the recently enacted tax reform law which capped SALT deductions at $10,000.

It’s no secret that the National Association of Realtors aggressively opposed specific portions of the tax reform law that in their view could have a negative impact on home prices and home ownership, and the cap on the SALT deductions was certainly one of them. However, the jury is out on when the impact of the tax reform law will be felt in our market. My best guess, and it’s only a guess, is we will see some impact when housing inventory improves substantially, and interest rates start to rise. I do not think the sales numbers reported in the second quarter suggest a significant impact now. It reminds one of the famous Mark Twain quote where he said, after hearing a rumor that he had died, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

So, what can you do when confronted with negative headlines that don’t seem to be rooted in reality? Educate the consumer. Be the source of accurate data. Feel free to e-mail and post to social media the HGAR quarterly sales reports. Remember that all data is local, and you should mine the HGMLS sales data for accurate numbers for the towns and municipalities that you serve. Utilize the Fast Stats and Info Sparks tools in HGMLS to provide even more robust data analysis. You need to be the expert!

We know that markets go up and down. We know that negative headlines are a fact of life. We also know that at the end of the day consumers look to you to be their trusted adviser—providing them with not just accurate data they can count on but also expert analysis of that data.

If you have any ideas on how we can make our quarterly statistics more valuable to our members, feel free to reach out to me at Richard.haggerty@hgar.com or our HGAR Director of Marketing, Cathleen Stack, at Cathleen.stack@hgar.com. We’d truly value your feedback.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO