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First Quarter 2018 Executive Summary
by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President/Director of Private Brokerage):

The first quarter of 2018 marked an important milestone for Houlihan Lawrence and Westchester County. In February, Hudson Pines, the country home of David Rockefeller in Pocantico Hills, sold for $33M and represents the highest recorded sale in Westchester County. Listed by Houlihan Lawrence in September for $22M, its provenance and architecture generated substantial interest and ultimately sold for 50% over its asking price. The broader luxury market in Westchester County (sales over $2M) declined over 20% the first quarter. Fortunately this is not part of a larger trend. Sales increased in the fourth quarter by 9% and closed out 2017 with a near 5% increase. Luxury pending sales are up slightly, but the decline can likely be attributed to the small numbers and wide percent change swings of first quarter data. In Dutchess County, where luxury sales (sales $1M and higher) have yet to recover from 2008, the market may have turned the corner. Incremental growth in 2017, coupled with a notable uptick in total dollar volume in the first quarter, points to a broader trend in Northern Westchester and the Hudson Valley – the return of second-home buyers. The energy and ethos of the Hudson Valley are attracting a new generation of luxury buyers. Farm-to-table restaurants, art galleries and its community of artisans offer a quiet sophistication that is pitch-perfect with younger buyers. Compared to overheated and overcrowded second-home markets like the Hamptons, the Hudson Valley’s value proposition and ease of commute to and from NYC are becoming hard to resist. In Greenwich, the ultra-luxury market (sales $5M and higher) is keeping pace with last year’s stellar performance. First-quarter closed and pending sales grew over last year, and strategic pricing is driving its growth. Luxury buyers have the wherewithal to make significant residential purchases, and their willingness to act is triggered by correctly priced homes. When a seller lists his home at an offering price that aligns with buyer’s determination of value, it’s not surprising that a properly priced home sells within 5% of its offering price. We are in a demographically ripe environment – Gen X and Millennial buyers outnumber baby boomers, and will fuel growth for many years. No matter what generation of luxury buyer, larger macro-economic issues remain an ongoing concern. The volatility on Wall Street and in Washington, inflationary fears stoked by rising interest rates, and trade wars and global uncertainty could impact confidence levels that are critical to the luxury sector.

To view the complete report CLICK HERE.

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HL 4th Quarter 2017 Market Report Summary Excerpt

The story for the 4th quarter remains relatively the same as the last quarter. The stock market and economy continued to gain steam and both ended the year with record highs. While consumer confidence was also at an all-time high, confidence in our local real estate market is showing signs of softening. For the 4th consecutive quarter this year, active listing inventory continued its descent across our market area, a trend that isn’t showing signs of improvement in the near future. Inventory in Westchester was down 8.4% at the end of the quarter. The average sale price in Westchester was up 5.1% to $794,660, The steady increase in pricing due to the lack of supply is resulting in wavering demand. Pending sales in Westchester were down 4.2% overall, and down 4.5% at the most affordable levels, homes priced below one million.
Here are some trends we are seeing as we head into the new year. While we could initially attribute the reduced activity in the beginning of the year to the polar temperatures, activity levels have only slightly warmed up as we head further into January. Showings in our area are down 32%. Showings of homes listed under one million dollars are down even further at 36.8%. Homeowners interested in selling need to understand that pricing is key. Homes priced competitively, without experiencing a price reduction, sell on average in 50 days at 99.9% of their original asking price. Conversely, homes priced too high, that get reduced, sell on average in 361 days for 82% of their asking price. Homeowners need to be very competitive in their pricing in the current climate.
The tax changes will undoubtedly have an effect on our markets, to what extent remains to be seen. The reason people buy homes are rarely based solely on tax incentives. Where people buy, and how much they spend however are certainly going to be effected by the changes to the tax law. For now, we aren’t seeing a major adjustment. What we can expect is that the tax changes will likely put downward pressure on prices, and perhaps that will be the catalyst needed to jumpstart the market.
To View the Full Summary and the Comprehensive Report…Click Here.

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Excerpt from the 4th Quarter 2017 Executive Summary by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President/Director of Private Brokerage):

“In Westchester County, the number of luxury homes sold ($2M and higher) increased for the second consecutive year and is at a 10-year high. Putnam and Dutchess counties also posted a near 10% gain in luxury sales ($1M and higher). By all measures, demand is healthy, but the influx of new listings in the past several years has created an imbalance of more luxury homes than can be absorbed by the current pool of buyers. The scales are tipped in favor of buyers who know what they want at a price that reflects their definition of value. The data indicates there is liquidity in the market for correctly priced homes and the bottleneck of luxury listings will thin when sellers and buyers define value similarly.”

To read the complete summary including the effects of the recent tax legislation and to view the complete report CLICK HERE.

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Excerpts from the Executive Summary by President Chris Meyers and CEO Stephen Meyers…

Wait and see. Although the stock market and economy continued to improve through the end of Q3, something is affecting the confidence of home sellers in our area. This has resulted in the fewest homes for sale in the third quarter in more than a decade. With less choice, some home-buyers are also now waiting and seeing. This mixture of low supply and demand has caught up to us and pushed sales into the red for the first time this year across much of our market. That doesn’t mean however that homes aren’t trading. The lack of inventory is affecting pricing. Inventory in Westchester was down 5%… (however) the average sale price in Westchester was up .7% to $873,000. Well-priced homes in desirable areas are moving fast and at higher prices, testing the budgets and patience of first-time home buyers.

Homes will trade, however only where there is perceived value. Homeowners interested in selling need to price aggressively from the start or else risk languishing on the market. Putting that into perspective, homes sold in Westchester without a price reduction, sell on average in 55 days and at 99% of the list price vs. homes with at least one price reduction selling in 368 days and at 81% of the original list price.

The Outlook for the rest of 2017: The early fall market conditions are pointing to a chilly winter ahead. Depending which direction the proposed tax reform bill takes, it may be the catalyst needed to improve the outlook for the remainder of 2017 and early 2018. For now, we will have to wait and see.

To Read the Entire 3rd Quarter Market Report…Click Here.

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Excerpt from Third Quarter 2017 Executive Summary by Anthony Cutugno (Senior Vice President and Director of Private Brokerage)

New York luxury markets of Westchester (sales $2M and higher), Putnam and Dutchess (sales $1M and higher) counties posted a slight increase in year-to-date sales when compared to the same period last year. In the third quarter, Westchester experienced a 13% decline in homes sold compared to third quarter 2016, indicating a potential softening of the luxury market. Third quarter declines were concentrated in the $2M to $2.99M price range, the traditional sweet spot of the luxury market. In Greenwich, the sale of luxury homes ($3M and higher) increased in the third quarter and year-to-date. The ultra-luxury market ($5M and higher) has picked up steam with solid gains in both homes sold and pended sales. Luxury sales in Darien ($2M and higher) have increased markedly though the preponderance of sales are within the $2M to $2.99 price range. Inventory over $5M is building and the oversupply of homes for sale is
keeping buyers at bay. While market conditions can vary from one community to another, one trend that is here to stay is the demographic shift and changes in buyer preferences which are redefining the luxury market. Today’s luxury buyer wants to purchase a picture-perfect home – most don’t have the time, interest or know-how to improve or renovate a home. Many luxury homesellers are listening to the market – they are repairing and updating, staging and styling, lightening and brightening their homes in preparation for coming to market.

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

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Excerpts from the Executive Summary by President Chris Meyers and CEO Stephan Meyers…

  • Inventory remains low. Inventory overall in Westchester was down 11%.
  • The lack of inventory is affecting pricing which presents a challenge for first-time homebuyers. Primarily it’s the
    inventory at the most affordable levels, homes priced below $1,000,000, where inventory is down 16% overall but down
    as much as 35% below $500,000.
  • The high-end market started strong but has since cooled. While sales of luxury homes were strong through the end
    of the quarter, pending sales in Westchester are down. (see the full luxury report posted last week)
  • Homes continue to trade at a healthy pace; but, that may change. The number of homes sold in Westchester is nearly flat or slightly ahead of last year. Pending sales however, have declined since the end of the quarter, showing early signs of softening.

To Read the Entire 2nd Quarter Market Report…Click Here.

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Excerpt from the Houlihan Lawrence 2nd Qtr 2017 Luxury Market Report Executive Summary…

“Luxury homes sales had a strong first half of the year. The number of luxury homes sales in Westchester County ($2M and higher) showed double digit gains in the second quarter and year-to-date. In Westchester County, homes sales from $3M to $4.9M increased nearly 50%. The median price was $3.7M and 12 of the 43 sales achieved the $4M price mark. Despite positive gains in closed sales, clouds may be forming over our luxury markets in the second half of the year. Pended sales, a forward-looking indicator, dipped in Westchester County at the
close of the first half. More ominous is the 50% decline in Westchester’s ultra-luxury ($5M and higher) pended sales, attributable to waning demand in Northern Westchester.”
– Anthony Cutugno, Senior Vice President, Director of Private Brokerage

If you are interested in reading the full report and receiving this quarterly analysis delivered right to your inbox please email jomeara@houlihanlawrence.com

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