WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Activity slowed for real estate sales in the second quarter in northwest Westchester and prices showed only marginal improvement, according to reports provided by several real estate agencies.
However, in the big picture of Westchester real estate stability seems to be returning to the marketplace.
“Stability is a good word after the wild swings we’ve had over the last 10 years,” said Chris Meyers, managing principal for Houlihan Lawrence.
“We had a market I call the steroids era from 2004 to 2007, kind of like what was happening in baseball, that was juicing our numbers. It was unsustainable and was followed by the sharp correction.
"I look at last year as being the first normal year in 10 years. I’d expect this year it be close to 2013 in that feels like a sustainable market environment. It’s not too hot or too cold. It’s the Goldilocks effect.”
Home sales fell during the second quarter in Westchester compared to last year. Houlihan Lawrence reported a 12.1 percent drop in home sales from the same quarter in 2013, and Douglas Elliman reported a 15.4 percent decline.
Sales in Yorktown slipped 24 percent compared to the second quarter in 2013, and Peekskill home sales fell 11 percent. Sales rose 11 percent in the Croton-Harmon and Hendrick Hudson school districts, and 19 percent in the Lakeland district.
The median sale price in those five school districts rose one percent, led by a 23 percent increase in Croton. Yorktown median prices rose 19 percent and Peekskill climbed seven percent. Single family home prices declined 22 percent in the Hendrick Hudson district.
“There are some inconsistencies in the northwest market,’’ said Gabe Pasquale, executive vice president for Douglas Elliman.
“I think it has to do with commuting and how far north you are. We are seeing that the towns that have direct access to New York City are getting the greatest amount of lift.”
Most real estate agents attributed the decline in home sales throughout Westchester to the harsh winter, along with other factors.
“We were working off of a high baseline,’’ said said Joe Rand of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty. “The second quarter of 2013 had the most single family transactions since 2005. Nobody should look at it and say the market is in retreat.
"It’s only in retreat compared to last year. It’s not as good as last year, but it was still best second quarter we’ve had in seven years. It’s not a bad thing.”
One telling indicator of a robust market is a growing inventory. The market had 17.9 percent more homes in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2014, according to the Elliman report. The market also had 3.5 percent more homes for sale compared to 2013.
“I think there was scarce inventory,’’ Pasquale said. “From a seller’s perspective, they see more of a stable environment and they’re moving ahead with whatever their plans are.
"Homes that are priced within five percent of the market are selling in a 35-60 day period. In a lot of the markets, the asking price versus contract price is almost 90 percent across the county.”
There may be some fluctuations in communities on a quarterly basis, but real estate agents generally like the big picture they are seeing for Westchester real estate.
“I was concerned the market was getting overheated in the first six months of 2013,’’ Rand said. “We were getting bidding wars. I got calls from people who were backing out of contracts because they were getting better offers.
"I didn’t get a lot of those calls in 2008 and 2009. We went from 0-to 60 really fast; it was almost like we flooded the engine. Now I feel like we’re back in 1999. We’re in the second year of what feels like a pretty robust market.”