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Archive for the ‘Quarterly Stats’ Category

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Excerpt) by Stephen Meyers (CEO) and Chris Meyers (President)

The real estate markets in the suburbs north of New York City finished the first quarter of 2019 with generally slower sales and higher inventory in most markets, signaling a clear opportunity for home buyers. The sale of single family homes in Westchester County declined by 5% in the first quarter, following a decline of 5% in fourth quarter 2018. Cost per square foot dipped below $300 this quarter, the first time since 2013. The supply of homes for sale up to $2.5M grew, giving buyers a bit more selection in an inventory constrained price range. Most communities experienced declines with the exception of Lower Westchester. An uptick in Bronxville and Scarsdale contributed to a 14% increase in homes sold. Westchester’s condo and coop markets are largely unchanged and the appeal of multi-family living remains strong. These markets are buoyed by two significant groups of buyers – downsizers and first time homebuyers –wanting the same product. Convenience, access to transportation and vibrant downtown areas are consistently on their wish list.

The number of buyers originating from NYC has fallen as the market in NYC has softened, negatively impacting our markets. Many NYC buyers have homes to sell before they can actively bid and transact on a new home. They have the motivation to move north, but not the ability to make a purchase. Tax reform has affected our markets especially in Westchester County. Of the near 1,000 homes that sold in Westchester in the first quarter, over 80% had property taxes $10,000 and higher. The average property tax bill was $21,000, and the highest was $131,000. We have some headwinds to manage – namely the effects of tax reform and a challenging luxury market. Our proximity to NYC, energetic neighborhoods and unmatched community amenities make living north of NYC desirable and exciting. The spring market was slow to start and activity has picked up the past six weeks. Interest rates are low, the stock market is healthy and employment – and our optimism for the second quarter – is growing.

To see the full summary and report CLICK HERE.



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1st Quarter 2019 Executive Summary – Luxury Market Report
by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President/Director of Private Brokerage):

Over the past 6 months, the number of luxury home sales North of NYC experienced a decline of 33%. Westchester County (sales $2M and higher) suffered the steepest drop – down 38%. There is no isolated incident that accounts for losses, but rather a confluence of events that negatively impact our markets and effectively shrinks the number of luxury buyers north of NYC. The real estate market in NYC has softened resulting in fewer buyers leaving the city to head north because their apartments remain unsold. This important feeder market was robust just 18 months ago. Condos, coops and town-homes appreciated in value, sold quickly, and reliably drove buyers leaving the city to our area. Now listings are sitting on the market longer as inventory grows, selling for less than expected. As the market leader, Houlihan Lawrence tracks where buyers come from and our data indicates a 40% decline this year in the number of NYC buyers moving to the suburbs compared to same period last year.

As NYC finds its footing in a changing real estate market, this April marks the first tax season with new tax laws. Homeownership is now more costly without property tax deductibility, especially in NY which has among the highest property taxes in the country. Consequently, many would-be move-up buyers – another important segment for the luxury market – are now more likely to stay in their current home than trade-up to a bigger and more expensive property. Instead, they may add an extra bedroom or renovate their kitchen rather than assume higher property taxes, a larger mortgage and increased maintenance costs. Tax reform has also pushed some residents of NY and CT to strategically relocate to more tax-friendly states. Low-tax states such as Florida, Texas and North Carolina gained the most population in 2018.

Sharp declines in the market represent an opportunity for savvy buyers. Deals are coming together albeit at lower prices with sellers who meet the market. Luxury buyers have high standards – they want a turnkey property that represents value. Razor sharp pricing and impeccable presentation are the best tools a seller has to attract buyers actively in the market. Houlihan Lawrence participated in 71% of all luxury transactions in the first quarter and our pulse on the market is reliable. Our agents are busy and we are anticipating deals will come together at a faster pace in the second quarter than these past six months. Continued confidence in the economy is evident in the rebounding stock market and stable interest rate environment. The spring market had a late start and the next eight weeks will be pivotal during this important selling season.

To view full report CLICK HERE.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARYby Stephen Meyers (CEO) and Chris Meyers (President)

Cooling. Not just the temperatures. We forecasted chilly market conditions for Q4 and our predictions held true. Financial markets entered negative territory after a ten-year run, while savvy investors were likely prepared for the inevitable dip, the volatility that accompanied the declines left even the sturdiest investors feeling a bit uneasy. As a result, pending sales across all three counties experienced steep declines. Each county was down by double digits and pending sales declined sharply as you moved away from New York City. Westchester was down 10.9%, Putnam down 11.4% and Dutchess down 17.2%. While the drastic drop in pending sales in Dutchess County can be partially attributed to reduced inventory, down 11.8%, the same cannot be said for Westchester and Putnam counties, where inventory was on the rise 9.5% and 1.8% respectively. With the exception of the Northern Westchester area, all other areas in Westchester increased in inventory, with some areas jumping 20% and as high as 35% just north of New York City. Despite the rise in inventory, showings were flat compared to last year. Showings for homes priced below 1 million dollars and above 2.5 million dollars were down. Showings for homes priced between 1 million and 2.5 million dollars offset the declines on either side. The sweet spot was between 1 million and 1.5 million, where showings were up 30%.

Here are some trends we are seeing as we head into the new year: Our data shows that nearly one third of buyers in our area come from New York City. The once red-hot New York City market has cooled down significantly over the last few months, the resulting effect is a smaller pool of buyers heading north. That being said, we did see a short burst of showing activity in the first half of January. Showings at every price point above $500,000 improved compared to last year. Below $500,000 however, where inventory has not yet recovered, was down 26%. Pricing will continue to be a key factor. The median sale price rose slightly in Q4 in Westchester, making it an all-time high. The market is shifting, and pricing will need to shift with it. In this new market of increasing supply and lower demand, setting a high price and then gradually reducing will result in chasing the market down. In Westchester, homes priced correctly out of the gate sell, on average, in 48 days and at 99.6% of the asking price. Homes priced too high, that experience one or more price reductions spend an average of 328 days on the market and sell for 82.5% of the original list price. Those numbers balloon as you move north away from the city, to as high as 391 days on market and 78.7% of the original list price in Putnam County after price reductions. Interest rates are expected to rise again this year and changes to the tax law are beginning to have an impact on how both buyers and sellers perceive the value of homes. The net result is that sellers in 2019 may have to accept that their home will achieve a selling price that is less than they imagined. Their motivation and willingness to price competitively will drive the market. Houlihan Lawrence remains committed to providing you with meaningful analysis and local knowledge the empowers you to make the best decision possible.

To see the complete report CLICK HERE.

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Fourth Quarter 2018 Executive Summary – Luxury Market Report (Excerpt)
by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President/Director of Private Brokerage):

While luxury markets north of NYC registered losses in 2018, the uber-luxury segment of the market demonstrated notable growth. Sales over $10M peaked in Westchester County in 2018. Houlihan Lawrence represented David Rockefeller’s country estate, Hudson Pines. Listed for $22M, Hudson Pines sold for a record-setting $33M and was the highest recorded sale in Westchester County. In total, five sales closed over $10M in 2018 (a monumental gain from a single sale in 2017) and exceeded the previous high set in 2005. These exceptional but finite sales did not make up for the overall decline in luxury sales. In Westchester, luxury sales ($2M and higher) declined by double digits in 2018. Fourth quarter declines were especially deep in many markets, dragging down year-end losses and placing even more pressure on pricing. Many indicators point to a softening market in 2019. Pended sales (expected to close within 60 to 90 days) are down across the board and could impact first quarter sales.

The once red-hot market in NYC cooled down in 2018, resulting in a smaller pool of buyers heading north. Houlihan Lawrence’s proprietary data indicates that 25% to 30% of luxury buyers originate from NYC and a significant chunk of losses experienced in 2018 are attributable to this shift. The financial markets entered negative territory after a rousing 10-year run. Savvy investors were likely prepared for the inevitable dip but the volatility that accompanied these declines left even the sturdiest investor uneasy. Interest rates are expected to rise again in 2019 and while that does not materially affect the purchasing power of the luxury buyer, it sends a signal about the overall strength of the economy and impacts consumer confidence. There are economic bright spots and opportunities for the savvy buyer to embrace as we enter 2019 – unemployment is at a record low and the equity markets created extraordinary wealth since 2008, despite 2018 losses. Tax changes can result in a net positive gain for some and the next three months will provide clarity to those who ultimately benefit. Sellers may have to accept their home could achieve a selling price far less than they imagine, and their motivation to sell and price competitively will drive the market in 2019.

To view full report CLICK HERE.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Excerpt) by Stephen Meyers (CEO) and Chris Meyers (President)

Softening. At the end of Q2, we discussed the likelihood of prices leveling off and, in some markets, edging back. At the end of Q3, we are starting to see prices doing just that. When you look at the overall picture, inventory is on the rise in nearly every market, pending sales are declining, and sales are either flat or declining. What we are seeing is a market that is softening.

In Westchester, home sales were down 4.1%. Although overall inventory was up in Westchester, it’s important to note that inventory continues to be low at the most affordable prices, homes priced below $500,000. A troubling sign was the decrease in showing activity by 11% through the end of the quarter. Some of that decline could be attributed to lower inventory at affordable price points, however, overall showings were down for homes priced up to $1,500,000. As showings are a leading indicator of pending sales, it’s no surprise that pending sales are down across the board.

Here are some trends we are seeing as we move towards the end of 2018. The early fall market conditions are pointing to a chilly winter ahead. Despite inventory rising at an even faster pace than Q3, showings continue to be down more than 11.5%. More supply and less demand places potential home buyers in the driver’s seat. It remains to be seen however if they are going to take the wheel. With listing prices remaining nearly flat at all-time highs, interest rates on the rise and wage growth nearly stagnant, buyers may not be interested in making a move anytime soon.
For sellers, we mentioned it last quarter and we are reiterating it again. If you want to sell, you will need to price competitively. The luxury of low inventory is gone. In this market, setting a high price and then gradually reducing will result in chasing the market down. In Westchester, homes priced correctly out of the gate sell, on average, in 49 days and at 99.8% of the asking price. Homes priced too high, that experience one or more price reductions spend an average of 344 days on the market and sell for 82.4% of the original list price.

To read the complete executive summary and to see the comprehensive report CLICK HERE.

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Third Quarter 2018 Executive Summary – Luxury Market Report (Excerpt)
by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President/Director of Private Brokerage):

Luxury homes sales north of NYC through the third quarter showed mixed results. In Westchester, luxury sales (sales over $2M) were down slightly. Recent reports indicate the housing sales nationwide are slowing because wage growth is not keeping pace with the increase in real estate prices. Our luxury markets do indeed appear to be slowing down, but lack of wage growth is not a factor for luxury buyers. In fact, the ten-year bull market created $18 trillion in wealth since the Standard & Poor’s 500 bottomed on March 9, 2009. Despite these record-setting gains in the stock market and net worth, the luxury buyer north of NYC is defined by a cautious and restrained approach to real estate. They are reminded that real estate can decline in value, and the fear of overpaying is a primary concern. Luxury rentals have increased since last year and offer an easy wait-and-see solution. The pursuit of value drives the purchase decisions of today’s buyer. They want a fair price that can be justified by comparable sales, and confidence in the property’s marketability should the need to sell arise. A surplus of luxury inventory justifies their caution: At the close of the third quarter, there were 467 luxury homes ($2M and higher) for sale in Westchester County and 57 homes in contract. Motivated sellers are paying attention to the importance of pricing and its out sized ability to attract the attention of buyers with a value-driven offering. Sellers who priced their homes ambitiously are reducing or withdrawing them from the market.

To view the complete summary and the full report CLICK HERE.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (EXCERPT) by Stephen Meyers (CEO) and Chris Meyers (President)

Winds of change. For the first time in over a year, inventory was on the rise in Westchester. The likely reason for this renewed interest in listing homes in Westchester was the continued rise in average sale prices, up 2.5% to $920,470. The rise in prices combined with the changes to the tax laws was seen as an opportunity for sellers to wade in. They may, however, be late to the party as showings, pending sales and sales were all declining in Q2. Showings were down at most price points, overall down 6.4%. Homes priced below one million took the hardest hit, on average down 8.5%. Pending sales were down 8.8% in Westchester. There were no exceptions in the number of homes sold. Overall, homes sold in Westchester were down 4.4%.
Here are some trends we are seeing as we move into the second half of the year:
While hopeful that this burst of inventory will spur on the market, it may be the case that buyers are now the ones on the fence. We continue to see median sale prices edging higher. Buyers are beginning to feel the strains of the loss of purchasing power due to the combination of higher home prices, higher interest rates, stagnant wage growth, increasing
cost of goods and services, and lower affordability due to the tax changes. As buyers are feeling strained, fewer of them are able to reach deals with sellers. We are seeing the number of homes
sold come down moderately across our markets. Typically as this happens, inventory rises, and for the first time, we are seeing higher year-over-year inventory in some, but not all markets.
Despite inventory increasing, showings in July are down nearly 16% compared to last year. As inventory rises, it will be important for home sellers to price competitively from the beginning if they are serious about selling. In a flat or potentially declining market, setting a high price and then gradually reducing often results in chasing the market down. In Westchester, homes priced correctly out of the gate sell, on average, in 49 days and at 99.8% of the asking price. Homes priced too high, that experience one or more price reductions spend an average of 344
days on the market and sell for 82.4% of the original list price. Pricing is key. We are reaching an inflection point and likely the beginning of a topping period for most markets for the next 18 to 24
months. We will likely see prices start to level off, if not edge slightly back as we head towards the end of 2018.

To read the complete executive summary and to see the comprehensive report CLICK HERE.

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