HGAR Region Posts Continued Strong Home Sales in Third Quarter

John Jordan | October 21, 2021

WHITE PLAINS—It may seem like a broken record, but once again home sales in the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors market area continued to be strong in the third quarter, with most counties posting impressive sales gains over last year. Analysts indicate that both nationally and locally, that tune will likely be playing well into 2022.

Overall home sales were up sharply in all but one county in the HGAR region. The Bronx posted a remarkable 84.5% increase in sales in the third quarter as compared to last year, while Westchester notched a 22.1% gain in sales volume, followed by Rockland County at 13.7%, Putnam at 7.4% and Orange at a very respectable 5.2% sales increase. The outlier was Sullivan County, which suffered a 23.4% decrease in sales from last year’s third quarter when it benefitted from a large influx of New York City buyers who were looking to relocate out of the city during the height of the COVID pandemic.

A deeper dive into the numbers released recently in the “OneKey MLS’s “2021 Third Quarter Residential Real Estate Sales Report— Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Bronx Counties, New York” shows that the single-family home sales market posted strong gains. Westchester County saw a 9.0% increase in single-family home sales in the third quarter of 2021 as compared to the same period in 2020 and a 5.6% increase in the median-sale price to $855,000. Putnam County enjoyed a 3.4% rise in sales and a 13.3% increase in the single-family median home price to $466,500. Rockland County’s single-family sector posted a 5.6% increase in sales in the third quarter and a 13.5% rise in the median-home price to $579,000.

Orange County’s single-family home market saw sales fall 1.3%, but the median home price rose 16.7% as compared to last year to close out the third quarter of 2021 at $385,000. Since the third quarter of 2018, the median home price for a single-family home in Orange County has risen by $110,000. Sullivan County suffered a 24% decrease in single-family home sales in the third quarter of this year, but registered a 25.8% increase in its median single-family home price to $250,250. The Bronx saw single-family home sales rise 42.9% in the third quarter of 2021 and its median home price increase by 13.8% to $597,500.

The condominium and cooperative markets in Westchester saw strong sales gains and double-digit percentage increases in their respective median sale prices. Condominium sales in Westchester rose 44.4%, while cooperative deals spiked by 67.4% in the third quarter as compared to the same period 12 months earlier. The median condominium price at the end of the third quarter of this year in Westchester was $470,000, an 11.2% increase from last year, while the median price for a cooperative unit rose 11.1% to $200,000.

Nationally, the National Association of Realtors and other trade groups point to a continued bullish home sales market for the remainder of this year and into 2022 while all warn of the continued low level of for-sale inventory across the nation.

Fannie Mae in its recently released Economic & Housing Outlook revised downward its Gross Domestic Product projections for 2021 and 2022 due to supply constraints and rising inflation, but revised upward its forecasts for the housing market.

“As measured by the FHFA Purchase-Only Index, we now expect 2021 annual house price appreciation to be 16.6%, up from 14.8%, while our forecast of 2022 home price growth was upgraded by 2.3 percentage points to 7.4%. Revisions to the 2022 home sales forecast were modest; however, leading indicators point to near-term existing home sales surprising to the upside. We have therefore revised upward our expectations for 2021 total home sales growth to 4.7% from 3.3%,” the Fannie Mae report stated.

HGAR President Crystal Hawkins-Syska told the Journal News that she expects the sales market in the Hudson Valley to be “robust” despite the low levels of for-sale inventory.

She added that the market remains very competitive. “For buyers, it’s still very competitive—down payments make a difference, so buyers who have a lower down payment, they have to be patient,” Hawkins-Syska said. They will be competing at times with people prepared to put more money down.

Gail Fattizzi, Regional Manager for ERA Insite Realty, said that the third quarter sales market, while still strong, was not as frenzied as the 2021 spring market. She added that may have something to do with the New York City residential market, noting that apartment sales in Manhattan hit the highest point in the last 30 years in the third quarter. “After a pandemic lockdown and watching many residents head for the suburbs and beyond, the city is coming back in true New York fashion, a trend that seems certain to continue,” she said.

Former HGAR President Fattizzi, while noting that low inventory continues to be a drag on the market, addressed another potential problem going forward. “There are still some forecasts alluding to properties in pandemic-induced forbearance becoming foreclosures. There currently is no data to support that happening,” she said. “The strong majority of forbearances are back on track. With home appreciation over the past several years, most homeowners have enough equity in their homes that they can easily sell if they need to, and even short sales are unlikely. So, there may be some inventory generated down the road, but not at distressed prices.”

Liz Nunan, president and CEO of Houlihan Lawrence, also addressed New York City’s impact on the suburban markets. “While New York City is offering attractive pricing and experiencing increased buyer activity, helping to fuel its recovery, many buyers desire more square footage, outdoor space, and the respite that our counties offer. It is yet to be determined what percentage of the workforce will continue to work from home, be it full-time or part-time, but the ability to do so comfortably remains top of mind for today’s buyers.”

Joseph Rand, chief creative officer for Howard Hanna | Rand Realty, said the suburban NYC regional residential market entered a “new normal” in the third quarter with all-time highs in sales and prices.

“But, we saw signs of the market stabilizing after a torrid year, with listings and pending deals falling from the highs reached last summer,” he noted.

While activity may be down from the feverish pace of the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Rand does not see any evidence of a correction on the horizon.

“Yes, pendings and listings are down compared to the third quarter of 2020, but remember that the third quarter of 2020 was one of the strongest quarters in the history of this market, right in the middle of that tidal wave. That’s not a fair comparison—the market was never going to stay on the Post-Lockdown pace,” Rand said.

Rand in the firm’s recent released report listed seven takeaways from the third quarter market. 1) Sales surged again, hitting all-time highs; 2) Prices continue to appreciate dramatically, reaching all-time highs; 3) Pending sales are down from last year’s pace, but were still strong; 4) Listings were down again, with inventory reaching all-time lows; 5) Homes are now consistently selling for higher than the asking price; 6) Homes are selling more quickly than ever before and 7) Even with prices rising, low rates are keeping monthly payments near historic lows.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth