REAL ESTATE SALES DROP – PRICES UP IN 2018

Westchester County’s housing market closed out 2018 with a decrease in overall sales from 2017. Total housing sales fell for the first time in seven years. The residential brokers attribute the slowdown to buyer concerns with rising interest rates, lack of inventory and sellers not pricing for the market.

According to an article in the Westchester County Business Journal on January 28, 2019 by Ryan Deffenbaugh, there were 1358 sales of single family homes in Westchester in October & December, down about 6% from the same period in 2017. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors states that closing a year in which Westchester County’s 5876 total sales of single family homes, condominiums, cooperative and two to four family homes dropped 4% from 2017.

The fourth quarter of 2018 marks the sixth straight quarter in which total single family homes declined. Prices are still going up which shows demand is strong. The median price for a single family home in 2018 went up to $650,000 which is up 1.2% from 2017 and up 3.5% from 2015. Entry level prices are in demand in the $400,000 price range which is especially intense. Demand in the low and mid-priced market has elevated prices for those homes.

Last year, 2018 was the first full year for the market under the new Federal Tax Code which capped local and state deductions at $10,000. Westchester County real estate taxes is among the highest taxed area in the country. In the luxury market, there were 318 total sales of homes priced at $2,000,000 or higher in 2018, down 11% from 2017. Houlihan Lawrence has raised alarms about pending luxury sale numbers that were down across the board. The brokerage said the counties luxury market could be hurt by rising interest rates on mortgages. Houlihan Executive Vice President and Director states “sellers may have to accept their home could achieve a selling price far less than they imagine, and their motivation to sell and price competitively will drive the market in 2019.”

Sellers of lower taxes condominiums and cooperatives are more attractive as a result of the new Tax Code. Condo sales in Westchester in the last quarter of 2018 were up 8%. Scott Elwell, Senior Executive Regional Manager at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Westchester states “we have seen a big uptick in interest for condos and coops in Westchester” which is also because of a movement toward an easier lifestyle. Elwell states “the strongest demand in Westchester are for condos that are well priced.”

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