February 2012 Westchester Real Estate Market: Transactions Up, Prices Down

J Philip Faranda March 5, 2012

According to Empire Access MLS data, the number of Westchester County single family home closings for February 2012 was up by three deals over that of February 2011. After a weak start in January, this is welcome news. Not all the news is rosy, however, as median price is still down significantly over the number from a year prior. The results are as follows: February 2012: 228 closed transactions at a median sale price of $500,000. February 2011: 225 closed transactions at a median sale price of $621,500. While this does not mean that a house bought last year for $621,500 is now worth $500,000, it does mean that inventory that the public is buying trended toward lower prices last month. The higher cost homes were a softer side of the market. People who sell a lower priced home are often "move up" buyers of more expensive homes, but the drop in median price may point more to the fact that in February,  a higher percentage of sales end up being expatriots from New York who migrate to the sunbelt. As the Spring approaches, the trend will be more sellers staying put as part of the great Spring rush to be in new digs by the summer in anticipation of the new school year. As that occurs, expect higher priced homes to experience a resurgence. The data supports this view- currently, there are 792 single family homes under contract or pending sale in Westchester, and the median list price of those homes is $592,500, almost a 19% higher price than February's median of $500,000. Not everything sells for full price, but expect a higher number in March. The available 3438 homes on the market represent a 15 month supply of active inventory, and that number will swell as more sellers list their homes for sale in the Spring. Buyers have a decided advantage, and with interest rates as low as they are, those looking to purchase are in the driver seat. The takeaway for sellers is to price realistically, because buyer have lots of options. For buyers, it might be time to make a decision about moving to take advantage of the favorable conditions, because they won't last forever.

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