Real Estate Paradox

Two articles about real estate were published this past week. The headlines of each are contradictions. Wednesday, January 15, 2014, the Journal News had an article entitled “Hudson Valley home closings soar, prices rise in ’13”. In the Westchester County Business Journal, an article appeared on January 13, 2014 entitled “Foreclosures surge in 2013”. One article speaks to the real estate recovery and the other article speaks of the surge in foreclosures.

The Westchester County Business Journal points out mortgage lenders foreclosure proceedings rose 49% in 2013 from 2012. Court judgments against defaulting homeowners rose 77% in 2013 from 2012. The main reason for the increase is that banks have been clearing a backlog of sold and resold mortgage loans dating from the 2005 – 2007 housing market boom. The Westchester County Clerk’s office reported 2694 foreclosure actions started in 2012, up from 1813 in 2011. The lenders filing last year were the highest since 2009 when 3,123 foreclosures were started. 369 foreclosure judgments were entered in 2013, the highest in three years. In 2006-2010 foreclosure judgments peaked at 1034 in 2008. The article states that attorneys and real estate brokers have said they expect the surge in filing to continue in 2014 and that it could be another 2 – 3 years before the backlog of mortgage loans in default are cleared. The Westchester County Clerk, Timothy C. Idoni noted that stricter mortgage financing rules take effect this month “which will no doubt curb foreclosures down the road”. So much for the bad real estate news which results from the great recession.

On the positive side, the Journal News article on January 15, 2014 states housing sales hit highest level since 2007. The lower Hudson Valley ended the year with double digit increases in the volume of closings for 2013. Not only were home sales the highest since 2007 but the median home price rose across the board according to the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc. in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland & Orange counties. Westchester posted 21% sales increase from 2012 to 2013. Putnam a 17% jump and Rockland a 14% rise. Orange County led the area with 23% increase. The first quarter of 2013 was the slowest. The second and third quarters were the highest quarters and the fourth quarter slowed a bit with a 16% rise in sale compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

In Westchester the median sales price of a single family home rose 39% from 587,000 in 2012 to 610,000 in 2013. Putnam recorded a 2.8% increase in median price to 308,500. Rockland rose 2.6% to 390,000.

Nationally, in the first three quarters home prices rose about 13.6%, the highest gain since 2006. The real estate market strength showed local and national confidence. The realtors opine that buyers were realistic. They see prices rise with mortgage rates and know it is their time. “It is a sort of sweet spot for everyone”. Inventories dropped in Rockland, Westchester and Putnam. In Westchester it went from 2570 in 2012 to 2327 in 2013, a 9.5% decline. In Putnam, the inventory from 708 in 2012 to 681 in 2013, a 3.8% drop. In Rockland, the lowest drop in inventory went from 971 in 2012 to 948 in 2013, a 2.4% drop.

Real estate market is in a juxta position of having the greatest increase in foreclosures since the recession and at the same time, the greatest increase in sales, reduction of inventory and increase in median home prices. 2014 looks to continue both negative foreclosures and positive increase in sales.

If you or a relative are planning to purchase/ sell your home/condominium/coop, contact the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 to aide you in the process.