2011 Westchester Real Estate Market Wrap Up: Dead Cat Bounces and the New Normal

J Philip Faranda January 17, 2012

J Philip Real EstateMonth by month, I have watched the 2011 Westchester Real estate market in comparison to the same month in 2010 to see how we'd stack up. Would values rise? Would transaction totals improve? 2011 started out behind the curve compared to 2010, but my theory was that 2010 started out artificially high due to the housing stimulus which ended at the end of April 2010. Going into November, it looked like we'd at least catch up to 2010 if we could hold serve in the 4th quarter. 

We did not hold serve. As a matter of fact, the 4th quarter of 2011 was behind that of 2010 by over 40 transactions and over $50,000 in median price, which was a very disappointing finish. I have my theory about that, but first the numbers:

In 2010, a total of 4018 single family homes were sold in Westchester at a median price of $630,000.
In 2011, a total of 3839 single family homes were sold in Westchester at a median price of $600,000.

Overall, transaction totals were down 4%.
Overall, median price was down 5%.

While these are not cataclysmic declines, they do speak to the malaise that continues to dominate the housing market. Moreover, they do point to 2010 being somewhat of a dead cat bounce after the nadir of 2009, when only 3358 homes sold at a median price of $580,000. A "dead cat bounce" is a brief bounce up not unlike a "dead cat" bouncing after impact with the terra firma. 

The good news: We are indeed up from the lowest point.
The bad news: The market remains flat. And that will most likely be normal for the foreseeable future. 

So why did we trip over the finish line? What contributed to the poor 4th quarter when so many forces would want to close out the year, and the pipeline was swollen with homes under contract? 

The pipeline was swollen with homes under contract. It still is, with almost 700 homes under contract or pending sale. Here is what I wrote in November:

October sucked. The sad thing isn't that buyers aren't buying. They just can't get to the closing table for a variety of reasons. The data on pending sales shows a ton of deals on the 1-yard line that can't get into the end zone. 


I hate to be right, but we still have 674 deals under contract or pending sale at that same median price of $499,000. 190 of them are pending, meaning they should close in the next week or two. But they won't. 

And that is exactly what happened. Between short sales that weren't approved or mortgages that didn't get commitment or clear to close, the pending deals killed the recovery in vitro. 

Until we see a commitment on the lenders part to part with their delinquent loans via short sale and an equal commitment to loaning money without borrowers having to regain their virtue while standing on their head spitting nickels, the market will sputter. 

Consider this: Two weeks into 2012, we are down 45 sales and almost $100,000 in median price. That's not a big sample, but it's not encouraging either. 

I'd rather be a buyer than a seller! 

This home we just listed in Port Chester was appraised a few years ago at over $500,000. It is now on the market for $360,000. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, fireplace, garage, den, 1st floor laundry, and 2400 square feet. Not bad. Now THAT is a buyer's market. 

434 Glen Ave Port Chester, NY 10573

To take advantage of the low prices and rates, get yourself a free Listingbook account and search the MLS like an agent. 

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