WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Activity may have slowed for real estate sales in the second quarter in Westchester County, but prices, especially along the Sound Shore, showed a nice improvement.
In the big picture of Westchester real estate, stability seems to be returning to the marketplace.
“Stability is a good word after the wild swings we’ve had over the last 10 years,” said Chris Meyers, managing principal for Houlihan Lawrence. “We had a market I call the steroids era from 2004 to 2007, kind of like what was happening in baseball, that was juicing our numbers. It was unsustainable and was followed by the sharp correction. I look at last year as being the first normal year in 10 years. I’d expect this year it be close to 2013 in that feels like a sustainable market environment. It’s not too hot or too cold. It’s the Goldilocks effect.”
Home sales fell during the second quarter in Westchester compared to last year. Houlihan Lawrence reported a 12.1 percent drop in home sales from the same quarter in 2013, and Douglas Elliman reported a 15.4 percent decline. The HL report is online. The Elliman report is attached as a PDF. The quarterly report from William Pitt Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty is also online.
The median sale price rose just 0.8 percent countywide, according to the Houlihan Lawrence report. But Sound Shore communities saw a 6 percent increase. The HL report breaks down the Sound Shore into Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye City, Rye Neck, Blind Brook and Port Chester.
Single family home prices rose 8 percent in Harrison and Port Chester compared to 2013, and Mamaroneck rose 5 percent. Blind Brook (20 percent) and Rye City (15 percent) had big gains.
The median sale price for homes in the Sound Shore rose above $1 million for the first time. The median price is $1,049,000, an increase of more than $62,000 from last year. Sellers are getting more than 97 percent of their asking price, and the number of days on market was 132. Both figures are among the best in the past 10 years.
Sales fell throughout Westchester, and most real estate agents attributed that to the harsh winter. However, that was not the only cause for the dip in activity.
“We were working off of a high baseline,’’ said said Joe Rand of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty. “The second quarter of 2013 had the most single family transactions since 2005. Nobody should look at it and say the market is in retreat. It’s only in retreat compared to last year. It’s not as good as last year, but it was still best second quarter we’ve had in seven years. It’s not a bad thing.”
One telling indicator of a robust market is a growing inventory. The market had 17.9 percent more homes in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2014, according to the Elliman report.The market also had 3.5 percent more homes for sale compared to 2013.
“I think there was scarce inventory,’’ said Gabe Pasquale, executive vice president for Douglas Elliman. “From a seller’s perspective, they see more of a stable environment and they’re moving ahead with whatever their plans are. Homes that are priced within five percent of the market are selling in a 35-60 day period. In a lot of the markets, the asking price versus contract price is almost 90 percent across the county.”
There may be some fluctuations in communities on a quarterly basis, but real estate agents generally like the big picture they are seeing for Westchester real estate.
“I was concerned the market was getting overheated in the first six months of 2013,’’ Rand said. “We were getting bidding wars. I got calls from people who were backing out of contracts because they were getting better offers. I didn’t get a lot of those calls in 2008 and 2009. We went from 0-to 60 really fast; it was almost like we flooded the engine. Now I feel like we’re back in 1999. We’re in the second year of what feels like a pretty robust market.”