WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Sales of single family homes fell 13.5 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and showed minimal growth over the same quarter last year, according to a report from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
The numbers from Westchester reflected a trend from the three other counties in the Hudson Gateway Report, which also includes statistics from Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties. Closings fell 9.5 percent for the four counties. Most real estate experts believe the brutal winter caused the downturn.
“In April I said I was encouraged by the first quarter numbers but I would expect a downturn based on the incredibly harsh winter,’’ Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors President Diane Cummins said. “That’s exactly what happened. We’re going to need another quarter to tell us if this is a trend.”
Cummins said the winter made it difficult for the market to sustain its traction from the first quarter of 2014, when prices climbed 16.5 percent and sales increased 19.4 percent. The second quarter report from Hudson Gateway is online .
“The second quarter closings were reflective of the first quarter activity,’’ said Phil Faranda, president of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. “It set the market back a good 6-8 weeks. Now we’re seeing activity in July that we saw in May of last year. When the year ends, I think we’ll be about where we were for last year. We had a weather-induced delay. People can’t go look at homes when school is canceled.”
Sales are down 2 percent for the first six months in Westchester compared to the first six months from 2013. There have been 2,157 closed sales in the first six months, compared to 2,202 for the same time last year. Prices rose just .2 percent in the first quarter to $651,250.
The good news for Westchester homeowners is that there seems to be marketplace stability. Prices might fluctuate, but there have not been the wild swings that the real estate market saw between 2004 and 2009,
“I’m happy the pricing is remaining realistic,’’ Cummins said. “In a way, maybe this is a healthy control factor in real estate’s return. There isn’t the irrational exuberance of past markets.”
Perhaps a number to watch over the rest of the year is inventory. There were 3,913 homes listed with real estate offices at the end of the second quarter, an increase of 5.7 percent. Inventory had been low for several quarters.
“In real estate, volatility is a bad sign,’’ Faranda said. “Flat, steady, boring is good. When things go haywire, people grab their wallet. The fact that things are steady or flat is not such a bad thing when you look at the big picture.”