By now the whole country is talking about the over 25% drop in sales this past July in the wake of the stimulus. Here in the state of New York the sales were down 34.9% overall. Locally, Rockland County was down about 27% and Putnam was down 30.6%. But Westchester County was up, a surprisingly strong 8.7%, with a median sales price of $799,000 (source: Journal News). It just goes to show that all real estate is local.
But why would Westchester buck the trend? How can a county next to other counties with declining numbers have such healthy results? In my opinion, Westchester benefited at the expense of the neighboring counties. In the past, people were often priced out of Westchester and saw a move across the river or north to Putnam or Dutchess as their most affordable option- a Westchester lifestyle if only with a longer commute. With home prices down 20-25% since the peak of 2005, those home buyers are no longer forced to leave the county; why move 45 minutes north or across the bridge to Rockland if Westchester home prices are within reach?
Why indeed. Proximity to friends, family, work, and yes, that big Apple just below is economically feasible again. So, many stuck around and bought locally instead of moving out of county the way they might have over the past 5-10 years, and the money stayed in Westchester. It remains to be seen if that trend continues, but I don't see conditions changing from where I sit. The outlying counties will recover organically, but only when they adjust their prices even more than they already have. Call it shrinking pains.