The Lower Hudson Valley real estate market continues to present a mixed picture as sales of single-family homes fell in Westchester — but rose in Putnam and Rockland — in the first quarter.
Median home prices also dropped by 7.8 percent in Westchester County and 0.3 percent in Rockland County, though they rose 12.6 percent in Putnam County, figures released Thursday by the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors show.
Local Realtors caution that the new numbers are being compared with the first quarter of 2010, when the market received a boost from federal homebuyer tax credits, which spurred a flurry of activity.
“New York City is coming back strong, and certainly we are related to that market,” said Michael Graessle, president of the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors. “As the job market improves, we are seeing more and more buyers.”
The outlook among consumers is more positive than it has been for the past three quarters, said Donald Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute, which released a poll Thursday.
“Consumers are feeling better than they have been,” Levy said. “It’s a lessening of the pessimism. They believe things are starting to improve.”
The poll revealed that New Yorkers still think it’s a poor time to sell real estate but a good time to buy.
However, the advantage that buyers have over sellers is closing, Levy said.
Indeed, homebuyers and sellers are becoming more sophisticated in terms of price and willingness to negotiate, Graessle said. Some homebuyers have decided to take a small loss on their current home to buy a larger home at a better price.
“Buyers are shopping differently than they used to,” he said. “They are shopping early and narrowing down their searches. We are getting more informed buyers.”
In Putnam, sales are up across all price ranges from $250,000 to more than $1 million, said Don Mituzas, a Realtor with Prudential Douglas Elliman who specializes in northern Westchester and Putnam listings.
That’s a change from first-quarter 2010, when the federal tax credit spurred first-time buyers to purchase starter homes, he said. This spring, he said, he’s had several buyers who either relocated to the area or found jobs in the pharmaceutical industry around Tarrytown.
“People are moving up, downsizing and relocating,” he said.
Realtors also say they think the local housing market is pulling out of the recession. It’s a sentiment shared by New Yorkers, the Siena poll found.
“The sentiment is that we have hit the bottom and we are recovering, but recovering very slowly,” Levy said.