House sales continued to rise during the third quarter in the lower Hudson Valley, though at a somewhat slower pace than earlier this year, according to market analysts at the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
Third-quarter property sales were up 7 percent year-over-year across the region, with 5,644 residential sales of single-family houses, condominiums, cooperatives and two- to four-family buildings in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties.
The third quarter follows an active first half of the year for home sales. The market posted a 12 percent increase in the first quarter compared with the previous year and a 23 percent year-over-year jump for the second quarter.
Westchester County, which typically accounts for 50 to 60 percent of sales in the four-county region, posted the lowest gain in third-quarter sales across the region at 1.4 percent, according to Hudson Gateway. Analysts, though noted this was against a base of 3,202 sales overall in the county. By comparison, total residential property sales in the third quarter were 378 in Putnam, 862 in Rockland and 1,202 in Orange County.
Marcene Hedayati, president of Hudson Gateway Association, said that the gradual increase in sales seen in the third quarter is a positive sign, adding that “incredible growth” in the market is something that makes most brokers nervous.
“It would mean the market is moving too quickly,” Hedayati said. “It’s this very steady kind of growth and those prices staying somewhat flat or just increasing by small percentage that is a good thing for us.”
Sales of single-family homes in Westchester were up 2.1 percent from the third quarter of 2015, while sales of multifamily buildings were up 10.5 percent year-over-year. The county’s condominium market recorded 402 third-quarter sales, down .2 percent from the same period last year.
Medial sale prices. Courtesy Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors
Though the median sale price of a home in Westchester County was down 1.2 percent from last year, Westchester continues to top surrounding counties and the state in home prices. The median sale price of a Westchester single-family house was $668,500 in the third quarter. The third-quarter median price was $429,000 in Rockland County, $340,000 in Putnam County and $244,500 Orange County.
The mean or average sale price of a single-family home in Westchester fell 3 percent year-over-year to $867,097, Hudson gateway reported.
According to The Elliman Report, a market analysis from New York-based Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Westchester price trends slipped due to an increase in sales of smaller-sized homes and a weaker luxury market.
Westchester Real Estate Inc., a group of independently owned real estate firms, said in its third-quarter report that a shortage of available homes in the low to middle range of the price spectrum has homes in that range “flying off the market, while an overabundance of luxury listings has stymied sales at the top end of the market.”
“The high-end market is where we’re seeing the more substantial slowdown” in sales, Hedayati said. “We’re not seeing (homebuyer) traffic in that market, either.”
Hedayati attributed the lull in buyer interest to an array of global uncertainties, especially the upcoming election.
“There are a lot of unknowns now in our world and that does impact the way buyers respond,” she said.
Hudson Gateway Association also noted a “dramatic” year-to-year drop in housing inventory, though that drawdown has not yet resulted in either competitive price increases or market contractions.
There were 9,387 properties posted with the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service at the close of the third quarter, down 20 percent from the 11,734 posted a year ago. End-of-quarter inventory was down 20 percent in Westchester, with 4,524 residential properties listed on the market.
According to The Elliman Report, inventory in Westchester reached its lowest third-quarter total since 2003.
Courtesy Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors
Along with the region’s high rate of sales, Hedayati also attributed the drop in inventory to the number of homeowners who purchased their properties at the height of the market and have yet to see those prices come back since the Great Recession. “They can’t afford to put houses on the market,” she said.
Sales in Westchester County were driven primarily by buyers from New York City, according to market analyst Jonathan Miller in The Elliman Report.
“With Manhattan’s market remaining strong, the suburb’s market follows in fashion, because it offers both the advantage of convenient proximity to the city along with a slower-paced lifestyle that suburbia offers,” said Janice Linden, a real estate broker with Linden Real Estate in Rye. “In that respect, we see an influx of buyers from the city and that fuels our market.”
Orange County is a leader in exhibiting the low-inventory, high-sales trend, Hudson Gateway analysts said. Median sale prices of houses there are “increasing in small but steady increments” after five years of slowly drifting downward in a very narrow price range.
The third-quarter median price for a house in Orange County reached $244,500, while sales increased 19 percent year-over-year to 1,202. The county’s property sales are running 26 percent above last year’s volume, leading to an 18 percent decrease in end-of-quarter inventory, with 2,650 properties listed.