WPAR Reports On 2011 3Q Residential Real Estate Sales | Bedford NY Homes for Sale

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WPAR Reports On 2011 3Q Residential Real Estate Sales

Saturday, 15 October 2011 00:00 | PDF

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Westchester Real Estate NewsWhite Plains, NY – The Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors, Inc. reports that the Westchester-Putnam real estate market enjoyed a welcome uptick in sales volume in the third quarter of 2011.

Real estate firms participating in the Empire Access Multiple Listing Service reported a total of 1,944 closed transactions in Westchester in July through September, an increase of 148 transactions or 8% from the same period last year.  Among the various property types in Westchester County, co-op sales posted the largest percentage increase, 18%.  The 160 Putnam County transactions constituted a 13% increase. These Westchester and Putnam County closings largely resulted from market activity during the late spring and early summer months.

The burst of third quarter sales still was insufficient to counterbalance the relatively weak postings of the first and second quarters.  From January through September there were 4,774 closed sales in Westchester County, about 8% fewer than for the first nine months of 2010.  However, the direction of the market appeared to be improving.  On a seasonally adjusted basis1 the third quarter sales were running at a rate 5% ahead of the prior quarter. In Putnam County the improvement was 12%.   Taking all nine months into account and projecting for the balance of the year, 2011’s year-end performance could come close to 2010’s and establish a mildly improving trend line from the depths of the recession in 2009.

The third quarter median sale price2 of a Westchester single family house was $684,005 or about 6% below last year’s level of $730,250 when there was a high (28%) proportion of million-dollar-plus properties in the mix.  The proportion of high end sales decreased just slightly to 26% by 2011 and thus did not influence the overall third quarter median price very much. Rather, the average price of properties selling for less than $1 million decreased by 8% on average from a year ago.  In 2010 the median sale price among properties selling for less than $1 million was $590,000; in 2011 that submarket median fell to $540,000.

The third quarter median sale price of a Westchester condominium decreased by just 2.5%, to $337,500. For cooperative units, however, the decrease was 7%, to $166,011.  It is noteworthy that single family houses and cooperatives, both posting lower prices, also posted higher sales volumes.

In Putnam County there was no change from the $330,000 third quarter single family house medians posted in both 2009 and 2010. Putnam County has very few transactions in the $1 million-plus range to influence its statistics.

In response to the burst of sales this past quarter, the end-of-quarter inventory in Westchester on September 30 was slightly decreased from last year, by 3% to 7,124 units. Putnam County’s single family house inventory decreased by about the same percentage. Inventory in both counties is now a bit lower than it was in 2008 when the recession was building.

It would be fair to conclude from these sales data that lower prices stimulated much of the increase in sales volume.  Low mortgage interest rates counted, too.  During the late spring when consumers were applying for mortgage loans for these now-closed transactions, the average mortgage interest rate on a 30-year conventional loan was trending downward from about 5.0% in April to about 4.7% by July.  The combination of lower prices and extremely low interest rates made Westchester and Putnam real estate more affordable than at any time in recent memory, thus turning some of the pent-up demand into real sales.

Another factor that bodes well for the Westchester-Putnam market is the apparent increase in sales activity in New York City.  Reports from various brokerages operating in the city indicate that sales volumes in the boroughs have increased in the range of 12% – 16% over last year.  If that level of activity is maintained it will unblock the city’s market and allow more sellers in New York City to move to the suburbs including Westchester.

Unemployment remains a serious problem although Westchester is outperforming the State and New York City with an unemployment rate that has trended downwards from 7.3% in 2009 to around 6.5% today.  Still, consumers are exposed to incessant reporting of the national rate, 9.1%, which contributes to a nervousness about economic conditions that in turn suppresses enthusiasm for purchasing a property. Wild swings in the stock market also add to the climate of uncertainty.  Overall, however, if the country does not fall into a second recession, our region’s third quarter real estate results point more to an emerging recovery than to backsliding into a moribund market.

1  The seasonally adjusted rate is an annualized rate for a given quarter. It represents what the total sales volume would be for the whole year based on the quarter’s customary share of total annual sales.

2 The median sale price is the mid-point of all reported sales, i.e., half of the sales were for more than the median price and half were for less.  The median is not affected by unusually low or high sale prices.  The mean sale price is the arithmetic average, i.e., the sum of all sales prices divided by the number of sales. The mean does reflect the influence of sales at unusually low or high prices.

For more information on Westchester Putnam Association of REALTORS®, Inc., visit www.wpar.com.

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