First Quarter Real Estate Sales Surge In Westchester, But Growth May Slow

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Sales continued at a brisk pace in the first quarter of 2014 in Westchester, but the rest of the year could see a slowdown.
Sales continued at a brisk pace in the first quarter of 2014 in Westchester, but the rest of the year could see a slowdown. Photo Credit: File

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, according to realtors.

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 reports from Houlihan Lawrence and Douglas Elliman are online.

Sales of single family homes in Northern Westchester climbed significantly in Bedford. There were 47 homes sold in the first quarter, a 104 percent increase over the same time period in 2013. In the Byram Hills school district, home sales grew 38 percent and in Katonah-Lewisboro, sales rose 39 percent. Chappaqua saw a 22 percent dip in home sales. Houlihan Lawrence breaks down its individual reports by school districts.

Despite the dramatic increase in activity in Bedford, the median sale price dropped 25 percent over the first quarter in 2013. Single family home price climbed 11 percent in Byram Hills, 4 percent in Somers and 2 percent in North Salem. The median price for a single family home in the Byram Hills district soared to $1.1 million.

While inventory declined in most sectors, high-end homes in Northern Westchester are available. There were 370 homes priced $1 million or above in Northern Westchester, as defined by Houlihan Lawrence, as of March 31. There were 345 homes in the same price range on the market at the same time last year.

"In Westchester, $1M is close to the median sales price, and million-dollar homes are moving just fine,'' said Joe Rand of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty. "Indeed, if you look at the high luxury market in Westchester, homes selling for $3 million or above, that market is doing fine as well.  The high end is pretty slow, though, outside of Westchester."

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.”

"Basically, we’re in a normal market situation, basic supply and demand,'' Rand said. "Buyer demand surged, took down some of the inventory, started to push prices up a bit, and basic economics says that sometime soon we should start seeing supply come on the market to meet this demand — albeit with some price increases."

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Someone should send the school board and their demographer in for remedial reading