WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County real estate saw another quarter of double digit sales growth and median price increases, but that may not last for the rest of the year.
Figures showed the highest sales in the first quarter in seven years for Westchester and Putnam Counties, according to the quarterly report by Douglas Elliman. The number of sales rose 13.1 percent and the median sales price increased 10.3 percent, according to Elliman.
But with inventory dwindling, and a slower start to the spring housing market due to a harsh winter, the remainder of 2014 may not be as robust.
“The first quarter marks a new high for the post recovery period,’’ said Chris Meyers, Managing Principal for Houlihan Lawrence. “But with that said, the weather definitely caused a delay in the spring market. Sellers didn’t want to list when there was snow on the ground. We’ll make up some ground, but quarter one might be the peak for the year.”
The Houlihan Lawrence report is online. The Douglas Elliman report is attached as a PDF.
The Northwest pocket of Westchester saw less activity than its neighbors throughout the county. In five school districts of Northwest Westchester – Croton-Harmon, Hendrick Hudson, Lakeland, Peekskill and Yorktown – sales fell 12 percent, according to a report from Houlihan Lawrence.
Single family home sales in the Hendrick Hudson district rose 26 percent. In Lakeland, 35 homes sold, the same number as last year. Peekskill (24 percent), Yorktown (26 percent) and Croton (47 percent) all saw single family home sales fall significantly.
Median prices rose in the Hendrick Hudson district by 41 percent. Peekskill (30 percent) and Croton (23 percent) also saw terrific increases. Home prices fell in Lakeland by eight percent and in Yorktown by four percent.
“We’re strapped for inventory,’’ said Michael Norton, co-owner of North Country Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Croton and Chappaqua. “People are not putting their homes on the market. We are getting a lot of listing appointments. I think a lot of sellers are interested in getting into the market. If we can get more inventory, I think our markets will jump.”
With tight inventory, sellers hold the upper hand in price negotiation in Northwest Westchester – for now. “The pendulum has swung on the sellers’ end,’’ Norton said. “But there are still homes that will not get offers if they’re not priced right. If you’re priced correctly, you will get some offers just because of the lack of product.”
"Existing inventory is down a bit from the past two years, but that’s largely because sales are up,'' said Joe Rand of Rand Realty. "If you have a fixed amount of inventory, and sales go up, then inventory is naturally going to go down. The better question is whether listings are up or down — that is, are we doing okay in replenishing our inventory? Right now, for the year to date, listings are down just slightly over the first quarter of last year."
In 2013, sales surged 21.5 percent in Westchester and the median sales price rose 3.9 percent. Realtors are uncertain if the market can sustain the strong performance for the rest of this year.
“I think sales will taper down to single digits, and the same with prices, at least compared to the blistering numbers of the first quarter,’’ Meyers said. “It will look like a cooling off. Really, it’s stabilizing at normal, healthy levels.”