CORTLANDT, N.Y. — The real estate market is looking hopeful, and the numbers back it up, say Cortlandt's Planning Department and real estate agents in Cortlandt and Croton.
"At last, the Westchester-Putnam real estate market posted an improved performance that may have some staying power," said a July statement from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. The message reported 1,788 closed residential sales in Westchester County, a 13 percent increase from the same quarter of 2011.
The same statement says, however, that these conditions have existed for the past few months. Nevertheless, area real estate agents in Croton and Cortlandt say they have seen increased activity and are hopeful buyers are re-entering the market.
"I think that for a very long time people were hoping the market was just going to turn around, that they were going to get what they expected to get in 2005, or 2006," said Valerie Leis, a real estate agent with Sotheby's International Realty in Croton. "So they put some of their plans on hold."
"The reality has dawned that this is not going to be a short cycle. The return to those kinds of levels is going to take a while, and there's a limit to how long you put your life on hold over a real estate transaction," Leis said.
Ilene Goodman, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Cortlandt since 1999, said, "It seems to be picking up." With rock-bottom interest rates, "this is the most incredible time in my lifetime to purchase a house," she said.
"I believe this is the bottom. It may stay level for a while, but I see an upswing and I see people putting out those offers. The banks are loosening up a little bit," said Suzanne Welch, a real estate agent who has been with Coldwell Banker in Croton for the last seven years.
Cortlandt Property Assessor Tom Waitkins has a different way of assessing the market. "One of the indicators out there in the market is the number of dumpsters," he said. "During the boom, there was a dumpster in every other driveway."
His office isn’t seeing "an enormous amount of construction, but we're hopeful," Waitkins said.
Construction of subdivisions has slowed, said Ed Vergano, director of technical services for the town of Cortlandt. But "developers by nature are hopeful," he said. "When we see an uptick in the market, I expect these developers to pursue their projects."
Chris Kehoe, Deputy Director of Cortlandt's Planning Division, said the town has about a dozen subdivision applications, most for two to 10 houses, with the exception of application for a 27 lot subdivision, known locally as the Old Croton Egg Farm.