WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County real estate saw another quarter of double-digit sales growth and median price increases, but that may not last for the rest of the year.
Figures showed the highest sales in the first quarter in seven years for Westchester and Putnam counties, according to the quarterly report by Douglas Elliman. The number of sales rose 13.1 percent and the median sales price increased 10.3 percent, according to Elliman.
But with inventory dwindling, and a slower start to the spring housing market due to a harsh winter, the remainder of 2014 may not be as robust. “The first quarter marks a new high for the post recovery period,’’ said Chris Meyers, Managing Principal for Houlihan Lawrence. “But with that said, the weather definitely caused a delay in the spring market. Sellers didn’t want to list when there was snow on the ground. We’ll make up some ground, but quarter one might be the peak for the year.”
There was healthy activity and price gains in the Sound Shore section of Westchester, as defined in the Houlihan Lawrence first quarter report.
Sales swelled 65 percent higher in the city of Rye compared to the same period last year. Mamaroneck saw an increase of 67 percent, followed by Harrison (32 percent) and Port Chester (20 percent).
Prices also climbed significantly. The median sale price for a single family home in Rye rose 71 percent from the first quarter of 2013, to $1,835,000. Harrison homes climbed 36 percent to $1.2 million and Mamorneck homes grew 11 percent to $1.195 million. Port Chester single family homes rose 19 percent to $456,250.
The brutal winter did not significantly impact home sales, for the most part, because many of the deals were put together late in 2013. The impact may be felt in the second quarter, however, as inventory has fallen sharply.
“We’re not gaining inventory,’’ said Gabe Pasquale, Executive Director of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “It’s getting burned off right away. Typically at this time of year, inventory grows. We’re not seeing that exponential growth, at least not yet.”
Some Realtors have seen a recent surge in inventory. "The last two weeks of March were the perfect storm of lots of beautiful new inventory and pent-up demand, which resulted in a vibrant market …one we fully expect to carry forward through the remainder of the spring,'' said Jim Whittemore, Larchmont brokerage manager for Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty.
In 2013 , sales surged 21.5 percent in Westchester and the median sales price rose 3.9 percent. After another strong start for 2014, Realtors believe activity may cool for the rest of this year.
“I think sales will taper down to single digits, and the same with prices, at least compared to the blistering numbers of the first quarter,’’ Meyers said. “It will look like a cooling off. Really, it’s stabilizing at normal, healthy levels.”