2015 was an interesting year for Westchester real estate. The year got off to a slower than normal start (remember all of the snow?) and it took a bit of time for inventory to hit the market. Once it did, there was a lot of it! April & May had the largest 2 month jump in new listings for single family homes in more than 5 years! For Westchester County as a whole, here are some highlights to recap the year:
- the dollar volume of sales was up 3% from 2014 (and is up 87% from the 2009 low) the total number of sales hit the highest level since 2005 (but that was still 5.5% below the high)
- mean selling prices were below 2013 and 2014 levels and about 10.5% below 2007’s peak pricing
- median selling price was about 8% below 2007’s peak pricing
The interest rate on a 30 year mortgage was at the second lowest level in more than 44 years, averaging 3.85% in 2015 (and far below the 8.36% average of the past 44 years). If you had paid the mean selling price at the average interest rate in 2015, your monthly payment is about $150/month less than it would have been in 2009, when mean selling prices hit their low. Interest rates have a powerful effect on monthly payment!
In terms of inventory:
- overall, the number of new listings was up 4.7% in 2015
- the largest increases in inventory were in the $500,000 – $1 million & $3 – $4 million price ranges
- these price ranges also saw the biggest jump in the number of sales
- the number of homes priced under $1 million increased 4% but the number of sales rose by 8%
Market specific comments:
- in southern Westchester County, home sales were particularly strong in White Plains (10605 & 10606) and the Rivertowns (Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Irvington); Westchester sales were up 6% and these area saw gains of 7.5% and 10%, respectively
- the median selling price in Edgemont dropped 8.5%
- average and median selling prices in Harrison were down 7% and 21%, respectively Rye City had median selling prices drop 8.7%
- Larchmont & Mamaroneck saw average and median selling prices rise 10% and 21%, respectively
Tough to say! If you are looking to buy/invest in this market, on a price basis, I would encourage you to have a long term mindset because it wouldn’t surprise me if the market slows down a bit. However, consider that you would be locking in a mortgage interest rate at a (low) level that will probably not be seen again. I have consulted with several colleagues in Manhattan and southern Connecticut and heard anecdotes of slowing markets. Nobody knows how the spring real estate market will develop but with the recent uncertainty in world financial markets, if Chinese and Middle Eastern capital dries up, that could cause a ripple effect which will definitely be felt in Westchester.
Pricing remains the key to getting a property sold. For any given area and price point, there are many competing properties. Given the savviness of today’s buyers, the perception of value attracts bids and a seller simply cannot underprice a property but they can easily overprice.
I helped over 50 families with their real estate needs in 2015. With your referrals, I hope to assist more people this year!