Patch: Local Real Estate Market Shows Promise in Third Quarter | Cross River Real Estate

The residential real estate market in the Katonah-Lewisboro and Bedford Central school districts have shown signs of improvement in the third quarter, according to local realtors.

In the Bedford Central School district, 116 homes were sold in the third quarter of 2012, with a total volume of $105 million in sales, according to data provided by Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford.

The numbers are slightly higher than the previous quarter, when 112 homes were sold for a total volume of $97 million. Compared to the previous year, there were slight gains in home sales; in the third quarter of 2011, 112 homes were sold for a total volume of almost $136 million.

Angela Kessel, a top realtor at Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford, said she’s encouraged by the numbers and the fluctuation in sales volume can be explained by the diverse market in the district which includes high-end homes.

“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Kessel. “I think we’ve hit bottom—I’m very bullish on this market.”

In Katonah-Lewisboro, 69 homes were sold in the third quarter of 2012, with a total volume of $46 million in sales, according to data provided by Coldwell Banker. That’s a jump from second quarter when 47 homes were sold at a dollar volume of $36 million, and a year-over-year improvement from third quarter 2011, when 41 homes were sold for $30 million.

“The third quarter is stronger and after the unbelievable downturn we’ve had to now see such phenomenal movement in the market is amazing,” said Nelson Salazar, a real estate broker at Coldwell Banker.

While volume increased, prices have remained steady or dropped in both districts, but locals shouldn’t expect to see them rise to pre-2008 levels, he added.

According to Salazar, the median sale price in Katonah-Lewisboro was $624,000 in the third quarter of this year, compared to $653,000 last quarter, and $600,000 in third quarter 2011.

“Historically there has been a gradual rise in home prices—except for the years between 2000 and 2008, when there was a rocket-like artifical rise in price. It’s unrealistic to think that we’ll see that again,” he said.

In Bedford, the median home price in third quarter 2012 was $637,500, as compared to the previous quarter, when it was $677,500. In the third quarter of 2011 the median price was $776,875.

Westchester County

The county-wide market also saw a second round of increased residential real estate sales during the third quarter, July 1 to Sept. 30, of this year, according to Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.

However, while sales volumes increased for two consecutive quarters, selling prices have not.

Highlights of the HGMLS report:

  • Realtor firms participating in the Westchester-Putnam Division of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service reported 2,243 closed residential transactions in Westchester, a 15 percent increase over the same period last year.
  • During the second quarter, the year-over-year increases were 13 percent and 24 percent respectively. For Westchester, the third quarter volume was the highest since 2007, and for Putnam, since 2008.
  • If the current sales rate continues, Westchester will close the year with approximately 7,000 sales in all residential categories (single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and 2-4 family houses), resetting sales volume convincingly above the 6,639 unit level when our local market entered into real estate recession in 2008.

The increased sales volumes have not boosted selling prices.

The third quarter median sale price of a single family house in Westchester was $630,000 or nearly 8 percent less than last year’s third quarter median.

HGMLS attributes the lower average price in the region to sellers’ price concessions in response to general economic conditions but also partly to a downshift in the proportion of high end ($1 million-plus) properties that were sold.  In Westchester, such properties accounted for 22 percent of all house sales in the third quarter; in 2011 that ratio was 26 percent, and in 2010 it was 28 percent.

The only sector to enjoy price gains was Westchester condominiums, up by 4 percent to a median of $349,750.  The cooperative apartment median fell by 7 percent, to $155,000.

The closings posted with Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service in the third quarter largely reflected real estate sales and marketing activity that took place during the late spring and summer months of 2012. Other than low mortgage interest rates in that period there was not much supportive energy from other components of the economy that affect consumer confidence.

For example, the local unemployment rate has remained stuck in the high (for here) range of 7.5-7.6 percent range; and most consumers probably believe it is more than 8 percent due to the focus on that persistent national rate in the presidential election campaigns.  The equity markets, which many consumers regard as an index of economic well-being, performed well over the course of this year, but with a pattern of volatility along the way that would intimidate all but sophisticated investors.

Still, posting two consecutive quarters of increased real estate sales in the region is encouraging because it occurred in the face of lackluster or even adverse economic circumstances, according to Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.

“We are probably close to the point where buyers and sellers see eye to eye on the bottom line for prices, and where an increasingly active market generates its own energy for renewed health,” the organization’s latest report states.

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