The Real Deal New York

Westchester homes longer on market

October 30, 2007
By Jonathan Scheff

There’s a slowdown out of town. Houses in prosperous Westchester County are sitting on the market longer.

The second quarter of 2006 saw sales volume drop and inventory rise in Westchester County, according to a report issued by the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service. The MLS reported that total sales decreased 10 percent to 2,403 sales in the second quarter from 2,673 in the same period last year, while inventory rose 30 percent year over year to 7,784 units.

Like Manhattan, prices are still up over last year, though — a possible sign that sellers don’t want to lower asking prices from boom-time levels, even as more homes hit the market.

The median sales price of single-family homes rose 2.1 percent to $715,000 from the second quarter of last year, with condo prices up 7.2 percent to $384,900, co-op prices up 11.6 percent to $189,750, and two- to five-family houses up 2.7 percent to $580,000.

The Westchester market is slowing down compared to the all-time sales records of 2005, said Gilbert Mercurio of the Westchester County Board of Realtors, the author of the MLS report.

“No bubbles have burst,” said Mercurio. “There never was a bubble. There may have been in other parts of the country — certain parts of Florida and Las Vegas, where there’s an enormous amount of construction and investment. In Westchester County, the demand for housing has been pretty much consumer driven, not investment driven. It’s just normal supply and demand, and that’s what drove the market up. So we had a hot market, but it wasn’t an artificial bubble that anybody can tell.”

Current inventory is close to 1997 levels, before the burst of sales activity that characterized Westchester’s hot market over most of the past decade. Even though inventory rose 30 percent compared to the second quarter of last year, inventory had risen 38 percent in the first quarter of 2006 over the previous year. Mercurio said that this demonstrates a possibility for stabilization if this deceleration continues.

Condominiums saw the only increase in the number of sales, 6.8 percent over the second quarter of last year, accompanying the healthy price increases noted above.

Mercurio said that high-ticket prices on family houses may be driving buyers toward the condo sector, which may explain condos’ mini-boom within the overall slowing down of the market. A wide view over the past five years shows that condos and co-ops are steadily occupying a larger share of the sales market, he said.

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