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Sales down, prices up in Westchester housing market

Higher home prices and a lack of inventory contributed to a decline in housing sales in the lower Hudson Valley region, according to analysts at Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

Across Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, there were 4,539 sales of single-family homes, two- to four-family homes, condominiums and cooperatives during the second quarter of 2018, HGAR noted in its report.

In Westchester, residential sales were down 5.7 percent year over year to 2,511. Sales were down 4.6 percent in Putnam and 11.3 percent in Rockland. Orange was the only exception across the region, posting a 1.9 percent increase in sales compared with last year.

Prices, meanwhile, continued to largely increase in the four-county region. In Westchester County, the median sales price was up 6.1 percent to $710,800 compared with last year. Prices increased 6.2 percent to $468,750 in Rockland, 6.4 percent to $250,000 in Orange and 1.4 percent to $350,000 in Putnam.

“The continuing dearth of inventory contributed to upward pressure on prices,” analysts noted in their report.

Westchester saw its highest second-quarter median sales price since 2007, according to the Elliman Report, a market analysis from Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

“What we saw in Westchester County this past quarter was an increase in the median sales price countywide and a decline of sales across all property types,” said Scott Elwell, Elliman’s senior executive regional manager of Westchester and New England. “Inventory shrank and the combination of limited supply and rising mortgage rates contributed to the decline of sales activity.”

Though inventory overall in Westchester remained “fairly stagnant,” down 0.5 percent overall, analysts at HGAR noted that cooperative listings were down 23 percent year-over-year.

“Cooperatives are often a more affordable alternative to a single-family home,” analysts said in the report.

Other counties in the region all saw drops in their available inventory; 9.5 percent in Putnam, 8.1 percent in Orange and 4.1 percent in Rockland.

“New construction, still attractive mortgage rates and a vibrant Hudson Valley economy continue to point to prospects for a good year, despite headwinds created by chronic low inventory,” HGAR analysts said.

A report from Westchester Real Estate Inc. noted that inventory is now at its lowest level in at least 25 years.

“Investors are plentiful and looking to scoop up good properties, which are selling in record time and at all-time high prices,” the report stated.

Westchester’s luxury market, meanwhile, saw 105 sales of homes priced $2 million or higher, according to the Houlihan Lawrence Luxury Market Report. That figure is identical to the same quarter last year. Year-to-date, sales of luxury homes are down 7 percent compared with 2017’s figure.

Westchester Real Estate noted that buyers looking to upgrade to a larger home are “in the ideal position for this market.

“The home you’re selling, thoughtfully prepared and properly priced for the market, will sell quicker than you can imagine,” the report stated, noting that “days on market” continue to drop for all property types. “At the luxury level, you will have an abundance of properties to choose from at more attractive prices as sellers make adjustments to move quicker than their competition.”

That report also noted that single-family homes sold for 98.5 percent of list price in the second quarter of 2018, up from 98.3 percent one year ago and continuing the pattern of strength witnessed for several years now.

“Many of the most desirable properties are selling at prices over asking,” the report said. “With any exceptions generally coming in the high end of the market, buyers for low- to mid-range homes have very little room to negotiate.”

Analysts also noted that the new tax law, which caps deductions for local property taxes at $10,000, have left some uncertainties for the market’s future. In Westchester, residents pay an average of $16,500 per year in property taxes, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.

“It is too early to determine what effect the recently passed tax reform law may be having on sales, which remain at historic highs,” HGAR analysts said.

The Westchester Real Estate report stated that “some of those buyers are now just choosing to buy less expensive properties with lower taxes, adding to the softness in the high end of the market.”



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