WHITE PLAINS— The optimism felt by residential real estate practitioners in the first quarter of 2020 when strong sales figures in the lower Hudson Valley region, served by OneKey™ Multiple Listing Service LLC, seemed to be an indication of a robust year ahead for residential real estate sales. This optimism took an abrupt left turn in the second quarter when fears and uncertainty created by COVID -19 took hold, according to the 2020 Second Quarter Residential Real Estate Sales Report Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan Counties, New York released on July 7.
On March 7th, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and as of March 20th all non-essential businesses were closed. This closure affected the ability of real estate practitioners to show properties, home inspectors to conduct inspections and attorneys to conduct closings in their offices.
Initially stunned, the creativity and resiliency of agents and brokers along with the enhanced use of technology created a slow but sure path forward. Agents began conducting business online, showing homes virtually. New York State permitted notary services online and attorneys conducted business in parking lots going between cars. Although sales figures still took a significant hit, continuing demand could result in a fairly rapid recovery.
Residential sales figures were down anywhere from a high of 39.8% in Bronx County (hardest hit by COVID-19), which translates to a total of 296 total residential sales compared to 492 sales in the second quarter of 2019 to a low of 6.2% in Putnam County, which translates to 258 sales as compared to 275 sales in Q2-2019.
More reflective of how home sales fared was Westchester County where residential sales were down 27.6% or 1,805 sales as compared to 2,493 sales in the second quarter of 2019; Orange County residential sales were down 27.9% or 742 sales as compared to 1,029 sales in Q2-2019; Rockland County sales were down 24.1% or 482 sales compared to 635 sales in Q2-2019 and Sullivan County sales fell 13.7% or 196 sales compared to 227 sales in Q2-2019.
Percentage declines for single-family residential sales, as compared to Q2-2019, closely mirrored the overall drops with Putnam County down 6.6%; Sullivan County 10.6% lower; Westchester County down 21.3%; Rockland County lower by 22.1% and Orange County sales fell 26.5%.
Single-family residential sales prices did not reflect the turmoil wrought by COVID-19 and were, in fact, up in every county covered by OneKey™ MLS with the exception of Putnam County, which experienced a relatively small decrease of 1.1% in median price. The median price in Putnam was $359,900 as compared to $365,000 one year ago. Sales prices increased 17.7% in Sullivan to $175,000; 6.7% in Rockland to $480,000; 12.5% in Orange to $298,000 and 1.2% in Westchester to $711,000. The median sales price is the midpoint price at which 50% of sales were higher and 50% of sales were lower.
At this juncture it would be difficult, at best, to make any predictions about market conditions going forward. Anecdotally, we know that interest and demand have been high and brokers report that there are multiple offers on properties, many above asking price. It appears that the suburban market, as well as the exurban market, are the beneficiaries of city dwellers who no longer wish to be living in such close proximity to others or who, at least, want a second home to “escape” to. Factually we know that mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, which benefits the market.
Typically, the third quarter registers the highest quarterly sales for the year. It is important to note that those sales are generally a reflection of activity from the prior quarter. That activity, as we know it, simply did not occur and will likely have an impact on third quarter sales. There is, however, a very real demand for housing which, even if not reflected in third quarter sales, may be the catalyst to a full recovery of the market.
OneKey™ MLS is one of the largest Realtor subscriber-based multiple listing service in the country, dedicated to servicing more than 41,000 real estate professionals that serve Manhattan, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. OneKey™ MLS was formed in 2018, following the merger of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. For more information visit onekeymlsny.com.