WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester home sales increased 21 percent in 2013 over the previous year, which has created a great environment for sellers, said Diane Cummins, president of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR).
The White Plains-based group released its 2013 year-end home sales report this week. It showed 13,781 total sales in its coverage area, which includes Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Rockland counties. This is the highest number of sales since 2007, according to the report.
Among the four counties, Westchester only trailed Orange in increased sales over 2012.
“I think we’ve turned the corner,” Cummins said. “I think these numbers demonstrate a consistent growth pattern.”
Sales really picked up in the second and third quarters of the year. They slowed down somewhat in the fourth quarter, which is typical due to the weather and holidays, Cummins said. However, fourth quarter sales in 2013 were up 16 percent over 2012 and 34 percent over 2011, according to Joe Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens.
“That finished a really strong year. Sales came back in a really big way in 2013,” he said in a video .
With two years of increased home sales, prices are starting to follow, which Rand said usually trails home sales by one-to-two years.
“It takes time for changes in buyer demand to start impacting prices. We saw sales start to fall back in the seller’s market (in 2004). But, we didn’t see prices go down until 2007, 2008.”
Among the four counties, Westchester had the largest price increase. The median sale price of a single-family home rose 3.9 percent from $587,000 in 2012 to $610,000 in 2013, which Cummins said isn’t shutting people out of the housing market.
“We are eating through the inventory, which creates a great environment for sellers,” she said. “People are buying so they can put their house on the market and sell. But prices haven’t become unrealistic.”
This, she said, is good for both buyers and sellers. The report says potential sellers now have more confidence in the market, because they aren’t as concerned about external factors, like mortgage rates – which leveled off at 4.6 percent toward the end of the year – and unemployment – which dipped from 6.8 percent at the start of 2013 to 5.5 percent in Westchester.
“Lower unemployment gives consumers the sense of economic confidence they need to venture into the housing market,” according to the report.
To read HGAR's full report, click here .