Suburban NYC Home Sales Continue Historic Run
John Jordan | July 15, 2021
WHITE PLAINS—Home sales activity in the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ region continued to be historically robust in the second quarter of this year, fueled by strong demand and a continued economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
All key data metrics throughout the region were significantly higher in the second quarter, with the exception of one—for sale inventory, which was down sharply in all markets with the exception of the Bronx. This lack of inventory has been a major contributing factor in the steep increase in home sales value and will likely have a hand in slowing sales activity down when rising prices and available product put downward pressure on sales volume.
“The Second Quarter 2021 Residential Real Estate Sales Report for Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and Bronx Counties” released recently by OneKeyMLS showed strong sales gains in all counties in the suburban markets of New York City. All counties posted double-digit sales gains as compared to 2019 second quarter sales, with Sullivan County leading the way with an astounding 56.83% increase; followed by Rockland County, which posted a 33.86% increase; Putnam County sales in the second quarter were 27.27% higher; Bronx County posted a 21.75% gain; Westchester registered a 16.25% spike and Orange County enjoyed a 13.70% rise in second sales volume as compared to two years ago.
While second quarter 2021 sales volume was significantly higher than the 2020 second quarter, OneKey MLS officials noted that last year sales activity was suppressed due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the OneKey MLS report, median sales price increased in every area and continues to exceed the “bubble” prices of the 2008-2009 market. The median sale price for a single-family residential unit in Orange County rose 20.8% to $360,000 (from $298,000 one year ago), exceeded by an increase of 31.4% in Sullivan County to $229,900 from $175,000 one year ago.
The median price for single-family houses in Westchester County, increased 17.6% to $835,000 from $710,000 last year. The median sale price for a single-family residence in Putnam County shot up by 23.3% to $442,000 (from $358,400) and Rockland County’s single-family median price rose by 15.8% to $550,000 (from $475,000) and Bronx County saw a 7.2% increase to $565,000 (from $527,000) as compared to the second quarter of 2020.
Sales of condominium units increased in in all counties with the exception of Sullivan) and co-op sales in Westchester and the Bronx counties continued to improve.
The median sale price for a condominium in Westchester rose 3.8% to $405,000 as compared to 2020. The median condo price in Putnam rose 28.6% to $283,000; condo prices in Rockland shot up 24% to $310,000; and Orange County condo prices increased 15.8% to $220,000. The condo median sale price in the Bronx fell 6.3% to $300,000 in the second quarter of this year.
The median sale price of a co-op in Westchester was flat at $190,000 in the second quarter of 2021 as compared to 12 months earlier, while the Bronx co-op median rose 10.8% in the second quarter of 2021 to $230,000.
Reaction to the latest sales and price data from the region was mostly positive, with most predicting continued heady sales activity, at least in the short term.
Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors President Crystal Hawkins Syska said market conditions throughout the region continue to show a seller’s market, however, she noted that second quarter sales statistics really reflect activity generated earlier in the year.
“Right now, for the first time since we had this crazy market, I am seeing more price reductions starting to show up in different pockets and I am still seeing a major slowdown in co-op sales,” she said.
Syska, who is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams NY Realty of White Plains, added that the slowdown in co-ops is particularly prevalent in one-bedroom and studio units.
Noting that the median price of a single-family home in Westchester has shot up to $835,000, the sweet spot for the market appears to be in the $500,000 to $600,000, where the competition is heavy for those available homes, she noted.
Syska said that inventory is still low, but is hopeful that once homeowners read about market conditions and feel more confident about COVID vaccines and the ongoing economic recovery, they may begin to put their properties on the market in August and September.
She said she is concerned that the current escalation in home values will be a roadblock to some families to purchase homes in the region. In fact, she said that she already knows of some entry-level prospective buyers who have given up on the market at the moment.
According to Houlihan Lawrence’s second quarter residential report, the brokerage firm notes that the exodus of buyers looking to leave New York City to less congested communities, which had dominated sales activity in 2020, has lessened. However, the pent-up-demand still outweighs the supply. Listings declined in the 30%-40% range year-over-year in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties and pending sales increased anywhere from 25%-52%.
“While the current market is one of the best environments to list a home, buyers remain value conscious. Even in these circumstances, if a list price is perceived to be inflated, it will linger on the market until the price is perceived actionable,” said Liz Nunan, president of Houlihan Lawrence.
Nunan added that while the lower and middle range priced homes have traditionally had higher demand, that is not always the case with the luxury segment. “In fact, there was an oversupply in luxury inventory in some areas for the past few years. Currently, most of our luxury markets have seen the most significant percentage increase in pending and closed sales, some in triple digits, and demand remains strong across the board,” she said.
Houlihan Lawrence also reported that in every area north of New York City, the number of luxury sales was higher in the first half of 2021 versus the same period in 2019, indicating the COVID effect is still impacting the luxury markets.
The absorption rate of homes for sale north of New York City is strong, according to Houlihan Lawrence. Buyers are motivated and decisive due to limited supply, and competitive bidding is not uncommon. Approximately 30% of luxury sales closed over asking price in Westchester County since the beginning of 2021.
“Some luxury homes are still sitting on the market. Sellers who want to capture the momentum are reducing their price to be more attractive to price-sensitive buyers,” said Anthony P. Cutugno, senior vice president, director of private brokerage at Houlihan Lawrence. “The duality of the market—competitive bidding alongside price-sensitive buyers—appears contradictory. However, price is always a primary consideration in real estate decision making. Value has to be displayed even when supply is tight, and often, multiple offers signal to a potential buyer that strong demand now may be a precursor to future strong demand as well.”