Report: County Real Estate Improves, Harrison Shows Promise

MLS stats show second quarter produced 13 percent increase in sales over the same period a year ago.

Statistics for residential real estate sales in Westchester County showed a 13 percent year-over-year increase for the second quarter of 2012, according to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.

Harrison's market, meanwhile, is lagging slightly behind, but showing signs of improvement moving into the second half of 2012, said Peggy Johnston, a real estate broker from Coldwell Banker in Rye.

Realtors participating in the Westchester-Putnam division of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service reported 1,788 closed residential sales in Westchester County, and 177 sales in Putnam County, during the second quarter of 2012.

The number of single-family homes in Westchester County led the improvement in sales with a 16.7 percent increase. Condo sales also jumped 12.8 percent across the region and co-op sales increased by 7 percent.

Those increases could be good news for people considering either buying or selling real estate this year.

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"The market is moving and it's better and it's more brisk and there's a lot more (homes) coming on the market, which gives people the feeling that they can sell now," Johnston said. "Because of the numbers being better than they've been, people are getting a better feeling about putting their homes on the market and buyers are getting a better feeling about buying."

There have also been improvements in Harrison, just not as rapid as in surrounding communities, said Johnston. But more properties have been listed in Harrison this year, which could mean a more significant turnaround on the local front is right around the corner.

"I think it's turning around, it's not so much a buyer's market as it was, but I think the market has to catch up to itself," said Johnston. "There are a lot more homes coming on the market, so that kind of tells you that people are ready to sell; and there's a whole lot of buyers out there just ready to pounce."

By the numbers:

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the second quarter sales in Westchester were equivalent to an annual sales rate of some 6,810 units, an increase of about 2 percent from the prior quarter.

Taking the first quarter of 2012 into consideration as well, the likely year-end total if this pace of sales persists will be in the range of 6,700 – 6,900 units in Westchester and 650-700 units in Putnam, making 2012 the strongest year since the real estate recession gripped our region in 2008.

Prices started to level out:

The second quarter median sale price of a Westchester single-family house was $619,000—a slight decrease of 0.6 percent from last year, according to a report out Monday from Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. The $156,250 cooperative median was also down by 0.6 percent and the condominium median of $338,000 was down by 3.0 percent from a year ago. Mean (average) sales prices were down by roughly the same percentages; for example, the mean sale price of a Westchester house was $852,636, a decrease of 0.5 percent from last year.

When all the averages track in the same direction together, it often signifies that all price ranges and property types are being affected the same way, in this case, by ever more gradual price reductions that appear close to bottoming out, according to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. High-end properties, defined as those selling for $1 million or more, amounted to 22.7 percent of all single-family house sales in Westchester, nearly the same ratio as was posted during the second quarters of 2011 and 2010, according to the report.

There were 7,081 residential units listed for sale in the Multiple Listing Service in Westchester at the close of the quarter, 11.5 percent fewer than last year. The closings that are the subject of the report were largely listed and negotiated during the 2011-2012 winter months and early spring.  At that time, mortgage interest rates were quite low—in the range of 4.2-4.3% for 30-year conventional loans, according to Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.

Rates have since dropped below 4.0 percent. However, Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service says the current inherent affordability of mortgage financing is offset to some extent by much tighter lending criteria.

The Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service Inc. is a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Inc.


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