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.”
Activity and pricing were especially healthy in several Lower Westchester communities. Sales roses 33 percent in Pelham, 69 percent in Eastchester, 75 percent in Scarsdale and 67 percent in Tuckahoe, according to the HL report.
Bronxville saw a 52 percent climb in the median sale price to $2,220,0000. Pelham (31 percent), New Rochelle (29 percent), Eastchester (27 percent) and Scarsdale (24 percent) also saw dramatic increases in the median sale prices for single-family homes compared to the first quarter in 2013, according to the statistics provided by Houlihan Lawrence.
New Rochelle (29 percent), Yonkers (4 percent) and Mount Vernon (5 percent) also saw a rise in the median price of single-family homes.
The complete report from Houlihan Lawrence is online. The Elliman Report is attached.
“In any segment, there’s very little inventory,’’ said Leah Caro, co-owner of Bronxville-Ley Real Estate. “We’re definitely in a sellers’ market. In every price segment, inventory is pretty low.”
"Existing inventory is down a bit from the past two years, but that’s largely because sales are up,'' said Joe Rand of Better Homes and Gardens 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."
Caro even expects the second quarter to be strong in Bronxville. Bronxville has 26 houses under contract, and just 24 on the market. “Many of the houses in contract now were on the market last spring,’’ she said. “They stayed on the market for a year or they were re-introduced this year. They were priced wrong for last year’s market. But they’re priced right for this year’s market.”
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.”
Caro warned buyers to be ready to move. “They should have they’re ducks in a row,’’ she said. “In a competitive bidding situation, if you’re not as prepared as another buyer, the prepared buyer is much more appealing.”