WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Tuesday’s report from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors painted a positive picture for the year and the fourth quarter in Westchester real estate.
Sales of single family houses jumped 21.7 percent for the year in Westchester, with a 3.9 percent jump in the median sale price. For the fourth quarter, sales of single family homes in Westchester rose 17.9 percent and the median sale price rose 2.4 percent.
“Everything is looking up,’’ said Diane Cummins, the HGAR President. “There’s a rosy picture and it’s only getting better.”
"We're in a full-blown recovery,'' said Phil Faranda, the Hudson Gateway MLS president. "I think consumer confidence has returned. We’re getting a new new normal that is more hopeful and a little less dire."
Cummins said sales for the fourth quarter were particularly encouraging. With holidays, weather-related issues and usually fewer owners and buyers active in the market, the quarter can often be slow.
“You never know what’s going to happen,’’ Cummins said. “Many Realtors think December comes in, and I have to start all over again. It makes us feel better about the start of the new year. Unless we get clobbered with bad weather, we may have an early spring start.”
"We hit the ground running for the first quarter,'' said Faranda, who closed the sale of six homes in the final week of December. "I expect this will be the strongest spring since 2006."
The accelerating sales volumes over the past two years have reduced the inventory of properties for sales. There were a total of 4,309 units – including single-family homes, condominiums, cooperatives and 2-4 family residences) on the market at the end of 2013. That is a 10.6 percent decrease from 2012. While inventory is tighter, it has not had an impact on the market, the report said.
The other Westchester numbers included a 15 percent rise for the year in the sale of condominiums, a 22 percent rise in the sale of cooperatives and a 22.9 percent rise in the sale of 2-4 Family homes. The median sale price for 2-4 family homes rose 12.1 percent in 2013 in Westchester. Co-ops rose 1 percent and condominiums rose 3.9 percent.
In the fourth quarter, 2-4 family home sales rose 27.4 percent over the same period in 2012 and prices rose 3.0. The sale of condos fell 7.3 percent from 2012, while co-ops improved 11.5 percent. The median sale price for condos (3.2 percent) and co-ops (0.7 percent) also rose in the fourth quarter.
The report said steady and affordable mortgage rates and a decrease in the unemployment rate have helped spur the real estate growth in Westchester. The mortgage rates leveled off at around 4.6 percent after approaching 5 percent earlier in the year. The unemployment rate in Westchester dipped to 5.5 percent at the end of the year, down from 6.8 percent at the end of 2012.
“I don’t think this is a glitch,’’ Cummins said. “This is now the market and it’s moving onward and upward. We’ve hit our bottom and we are starting to move up.”
Richard Haggerty, CEO of HGAR commented during his Real Estate Update on Monday to a meeting of the Empire Westchester Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors, that this has been the best year since 2007 with a significant increase in the number of transactions.
He also stated that he looks forward to a good year ahead, barring some obstacles including uncertainty in Washington D.C., the tightening regulatory landscape and “irrational exuberance” within the real estate market.
(Cathleen Stack contributed to this report).