ROCKLAND: 2015 Was a Banner Year for Rockland’s Housing Market

Russ Woolley | November 25, 2015

Russ Woolley
Russ Woolley

There is this really talented and cool guy with the patience of a saint. His name is John Jordan. He is affable, smart and really talented when it comes to his job as being editor of Real Estate In Depth…He is a great conversationalist, as one can imagine a “newspaperman” would be. There is only one problem with John Jordan—I try to avoid him like the plague. You see, as part of his job he needs to find content for “our HGAR paper” so of course he calls upon the people in the four-county area to write articles. While this is an honor, it also causes some angst come deadline time—or just “post deadline time.” I was once told by Leslie Dachs, my 10th grade English teacher at Clarkstown North, that I write as though I am having a conversation with the reader—so let’s sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about the Rockland real estate market—where it is and where it is going, from this guy’s point of view as Broker-Owner, and as an active working real estate agent.

2015 was a banner year for many in the Rockland County real estate market. Sales were up, inventory was down, the mean prices in most sectors rose and many of our post 2008 wounds and scars were healing. There are some interesting buyer observations I have which are really important to keep in mind when pricing properties.

Median Sale PriceRockland Single Family Houses2009-2015
Median Sale Price
Rockland Single Family Houses

Buyers do NOT want to do any work on homes. They want the homes “done.” They will pay top dollar for quality vs. quantity. If a home was renovated in 2010, that is not a current renovation, no matter what the homeowner thinks. Garish granite might as well not have installed at all. A home with eight-foot ceilings on the first floor can never compete with new construction where ceilings are higher. Cheap oak floors will always be cheap oak floors—buyers want upgrades and will pay for them. Buyers are not interested in buying homes and then renovating them later on—the stress is just too much, and frankly home equity loans to tap the home’s equity for the funding of projects are practically impossible to get. Even older, impressively designed and architecturally significant homes are not as attractive to buyers unless they have at least new bathrooms and a new kitchen.

Rockland 3rd Quarters 2012 - 2015
Rockland 3rd Quarters 2012 – 2015

Now, as for the home search and purchase process, it is important to remember that the post shell-shock environment for owners of real estate also created a new approach for post bubble buyers of real estate. Post bubble buyers are very different than their predecessors, and for good reason. In 2005 buyers were in the unenviable position of having to act much too quickly if they wanted “that property.” They didn’t pay too much at the time, but there are many upside down owners who will tell us they did. I (a very experienced Realtor) bought a home upstate in 2005 and paid about $200,000 more than it was worth at the bottom of the market. But, you know what? I really wanted that house in 2005, so I needed to do what the rest of the market was doing, in order to get it.

Today, the buyers have been properly admonished by their predecessors to proceed with caution. “Take your time.” “Make sure that you have seen everything out there,” etc. So, when dealing with today’s buyers, patience is a virtue. Consultative selling is the way of the present and the future. This builds loyalty. I have seen many formerly top-producing agents become today’s dinosaurs because they have not been able to break away from their previous “Glen Garry-Glen Ross” selling selves. Transparency is key, informative, and as I said, consultative selling is what separates the successful Realtor from the unsuccessful ones.

I’m not going to wind up with a bunch of statistics—we all know what they are as we have the info right at our fingertips. I’m just going to wind up by saying please take to heart the concept of consultative and informative selling and guidance, keep your client’s interests above your own, and keep abreast and embrace and use technological changes in the industry and you should do well.

Russ Woolley is the 2015-2016 Rockland Regional Representative for HGAR, past President of HGMLS, and the President of Wright Bros. Real Estate in Nyack, NY.

Russ Woolley