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.”
The Houlihan Lawrence report for the first quarter is online. The Douglas Elliman report is attached.
The Rivertowns, as defined in a report by Houlihan Lawrence, saw a mixed bag of results, as did White Plains.
Sales of single-family homes rose 33 percent in Ossining. In Tarrytown, 19 homes sold, a 111 percent increase over last year. Pleasantville (140 percent) and Ardsley (20 percent) also saw big gains. Home sales in Dobbs Ferry grew 8 percent. Briarcliff Manor saw a 75 percent drop, however, and Valhalla saw a 62 percent decline.
Prices also fluctuated. In Briarcliff Manor, prices rose 37 percent compared with the first quarter last year. Pleasantville (20 percent), Mount Pleasant (16 percent) and Dobbs Ferry (11 percent) saw strong gains, as did Ardsley (38 percent). Prices fell 14 percent in Ossining, however, and rose just 1 percent in White Plains.
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 vice president 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.”
"Existing inventory is down a bit from the past two years, but that’s largely because sales are up,'' said Joe Rand of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty. "If you have a fixed amount of inventory, and sales go up, then inventory is naturally going to go down. The better question is whether listings are up or down — that is, are we doing okay in replenishing our inventory? Right now, for the year to date, listings are down just slightly over the first quarter of last year."
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.”