The Dutchess County housing market struggled through the first quarter of 2017, with sales and prices down after a strong 2016. We believe that this is just a short-term retreat in what will be a strong year for the market.
Sales. Dutchess sales were surprisingly down in the first quarter. Transactions fell over 7%, the first time we have seen year-on-year sales go down in almost three years. For the year, sales are still up over 6%, but the current trend is a little perplexing given that most of the Hudson Valley has been up significantly.
Prices. Home prices were also down, falling about 2% on average and the median, and down almost 3% in the price-per-square foot. For the year, though, prices are still up, so the first quarter results might just be an anomalous blip in the data.
Negotiability. Dutchess inventory continues to decline, down almost 19% and now down to under 12 months of inventory. Although we are nowhere near the six-month level of inventory that usually signals a “seller’s market,” we are certainly seeing some tightening that could support future price appreciation. The other negotiability indicators suggest that homes were selling just a little more quickly and for closer to the asking price — which is what we would normally expect with a tightening market.
Condominiums. The condo market was also down, with sales falling almost 23% and average prices down. For the year, sales and prices are still up, so, again, we might be seeing a short-term blip in the data.
Going forward, we still believe that the Dutchess market will improve in 2017, and that these first quarter results are just a short-term stall. With tightening inventory, a stable economy, near-historically-low interest rates, and homes still priced at appealing 2003-04 levels, Dutchess is likely to see rising sales and prices in the traditionally robust Spring market.
The Putnam County housing market surprisingly struggled through the first quarter of 2017, with sales and prices both down, even while the rest of the Hudson Valley was up. We believe this is a short-term blip in the data, and that Putnam is poised for better results in 2017.
Sales. Putnam single-family home sales were down over 6% for the quarter, only the second time quarterly sales have fallen in five years. For the year, sales were up over 12%, so the first quarter numbers might just be a quirk in the data.
Prices. Pricing was also down across the board, falling almost 7% on average and about 1% at the median and in the price-per-square-foot. Again, for the year, the pricing results are more mixed. We have been expecting meaningful appreciation in Putnam for some time now, and still believe that low levels of inventory and stable demand will drive prices up this year.
Inventory. Inventory continued to tighten, falling almost 30% and now down to under the six-month level that usually denotes a tightening seller’s market. With inventory this low, we would expect to see some upward pressure on pricing.
Negotiability. The days-on-market were down and the listing retention rate was up, exactly what we would expect in a strengthening seller’s market — homes selling more quickly and for closer to the asking price.
Condos. The condo market was also a little weak, with sales and prices both down for both the quarter and the year. Inventory was ridiculously low, though, down to just over three months, so we do believe that the market is poised to come back in the Spring.
Going forward, we believe that these lackluster first quarter results are anomalous, and that Putnam is poised for a stronger 2017. The fundamentals of the market are tremendous: inventory is ludicrously low, rates are near historic lows, and prices are still at attractive 2004-05 levels. So we are hopeful that we will see rising sales and prices in a robust Spring market.
The Orange County housing market started off 2017 with a bang, showing clear signs of an emerging seller’s market. Not only were sales up yet again, but prices showed the first meaningful signs of appreciation in over 10 years.
Sales. Orange sales surged again, rising over 8% from last year’s first quarter. This continued a trend we’ve been watching for over five years, with quarterly sales now up in 10 straight quarters and in 19 out of the last 20. Indeed, for the rolling year, sales were up almost 20%, and the 3,600 single-family sales were the highest total we have seen since the second quarter of 2006 — at the height of the last seller’s market.
Prices. Orange sales going up is an old story, but prices going up is something new. Home prices spiked in the first quarter, rising over 7% on average and at the median, and rising 5% in the price-per-square foot. Indeed, the increase in the average and median sales price marked the highest quarterly increase since the fourth quarter of 2005. And over the longer term, while the 1.7% increase in the rolling year average sales price doesn’t seem like much, it was the largest yearly price jump since 2007.
Negotiability. The available inventory continues to tighten in the single-family market, with the months of inventory falling almost 34% and now down to the six-month level that usually indicates the border of a seller’s market. Meanwhile, homes are selling more quickly and for closer to the asking price, with the days-on-market falling and the listing retention rate rising.
Condominiums. Even the long-moribund Orange condo market showed signs of life, with sales up over 12% and prices up across the board. We’ve said for years that what the condo market needs is an increase in single-family pricing, to create a gap between houses and condo prices. That might finally be happening.
Going forward, we believe that the Orange County housing market is poised for a big year. The fundamentals are strong: demand is high, prices are still at attractive 2003-04 levels, interest rates are at historic lows, and the economy is generally strong. With inventory continuing to decline, we expect to see more meaningful price appreciation through the rest of 2017.
The Rockland County housing market simply exploded in the first quarter of 2017, with a surge in sales and prices that drove the market to levels we have not seen since the height of the last seller’s market.
Sales. Single-family home sales spiked in the first quarter, rising almost 24% from last year, marking the ninth time out of the last 10 quarters with sales increasing from the prior year quarter. Indeed, the 2,132 sales over the past rolling year marked the highest 12-month total since the third quarter of 2004, and represented a 95% increase off the bottom of the market in 2011.
Prices. These sustained increases in buyer demand are starting to have a dramatic impact on pricing. Home prices were up for the quarter across the board, rising almost 5% on average, almost 7% at the median, and over 6% in the price-per-square foot. And we are seeing meaningful and sustainable price appreciation over the longer term, with the rolling year pricing up between 2% and 3% across the board.
Inventory. The story in Rockland County continues to be declining inventory. The months of inventory on the market declined again in the first quarter, dropping over 27% and now down to 4.8 months. Anything shorter than six months is considered a “tight” market, and Rockland is now well below that line.
Negotiability. Single-family homes again sold more quickly and for closer to the asking price in the first quarter, which is generally a sign that sellers are gaining negotiating leverage with buyers.
Condos. For the first time in years, we started to see some dramatic changes in the condo market. Sales simply surged, rising almost 39% from the first quarter of last year and now up almost 26% for the rolling year. And although pricing has been down the last several years, the combination of rising demand and falling inventory caused prices to spike across the board: up almost 13% on average, 12% at the median, and 2% in the price-per-square foot. With inventory down 40% and now below six months, we believe that this market will stay hot through 2017.
Going forward, we expect that Rockland will continue to sizzle through the traditionally robust Spring market. With prices still at attractive 2004 levels, interest rates near historic lows, inventory falling, and the economy generally strengthening, we believe that sustained buyer demand will continue to drive meaningful price appreciation through the rest of 2017.
The Westchester housing market started off 2017 with a flourish, with sales up and prices showing meaningful signs of appreciation after a slow 2016.
Sales. Home sales were strong through the first quarter. Single-family home sales were up over 6%, the tenth straight quarter of year-on-year sales increases. And the 6,266 transactions over the rolling year was the highest 12-month total since the second quarter of 2005, and marks an 87% increase off the bottom of the market at the end of 2009.
Prices. After a lackluster 2016, we finally saw some signs of life in pricing. Home prices were up across the board: almost 7% on average, over 5% at the median, and 3% in the price-per-square foot. Some of this might be the potential return of the high-luxury market, with sales of $3M-plus properties almost double the total from last year’s first quarter. Over the longer-term, prices are basically flat, but we expect that to change as inventory drives a tighter market through the Spring.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators continue to signal the coming of a strong seller’s market. Inventory declined again, falling over 23% and now down to five months of inventory for single-family homes. This is the lowest level of inventory we have had in Westchester in over 12 years, since the height of the last seller’s market. Also, the listing retention rate was up, and the days-on-market were down, exactly what we would expect from a strengthening seller’s market.
Condos and Coops. The condo and coop markets were mixed. Sales of coops were up over 10%, but prices fell across the board over the quarter. Meanwhile, condo sales were down almost 8%, but prices spiked over 9% on average and 8% at the median. Inventory in both markets was down to well under six months, indicating that they are likely to see constricted sales but rising prices over the balance of 2017.
Going forward, we expect that Westchester is going to surge again through the traditionally robust Spring market. With inventory tightening, pricing at 2004-05 levels, and interest rates still near historic lows, we expect that buyer demand will stay strong and continue to drive price appreciation through the rest of the year.
The regional housing market in Westchester and the Hudson Valley started to show the first signs of meaningful price appreciation in the first quarter of 2017, with prices up in most of the counties. Moreover, with inventory rates dropping, we expect this trend to continue through a robust Spring market and for the rest of 2017.
Inventory throughout the region continues to drop. Regional inventory fell almost 26%, and is now down to 6.3 months–right at the level that the industry considers a “balanced” market. But many of the individual counties in the region are now well below six months, moving into “seller’s market” territory. For example, Westchester is now down to 5.0 months for single-family homes, 4.6 months for coops, and 3.2 months for condos. Indeed, outside of Dutchess County, every single market segment in every county in the region is at or below 6.1 months of inventory.
The lack of inventory is continuing to stifle sales growth. Regional sales were up 5% from the first quarter of last year, marking 10 straight quarters of year-on-year sales growth. But that 5% increase was the smallest in that 10-quarter streak, indicating that the pace of growth is slowing due to the lack of inventory. Essentially, the market is capable of even greater sales growth, but only if it gets more “fuel for the fire.” All that said, buyer demand is as strong as we’ve seen in over 10 years, with regional sales up 11% for the year and reaching the highest 12-month sales total since the third quarter of 2005 — the height of the last seller’s market.
High demand and low inventory is starting to drive modest-but-meaningful price appreciation. In our last Report, we said that we were “about to witness ‘Economics 101’ in action,” explaining that rising demand and falling supply were poised to drive prices up. Well, from that perspective, we had a “textbook” result in the first quarter, with the regional average sales price up over 7% from the first quarter of last year.
Moreover, average prices spiked in several counties in the region, rising almost 7% in Westchester, 5% in Rockland, and 7% in Orange. Prices were down in Putnam and Dutchess, but even in those counties, the yearlong trend was relatively promising. Essentially, the market is capable of even greater sales growth, but only if it gets more “fuel for the fire.”
Going forward, expect big things for this market in 2017. Demand is strong, bolstered by near-historically-low interest rates, prices that are still near 2003-04 levels (without controlling for inflation), a generally strong economy, and sharply declining inventory. Given these conditions, we expect that prices will continue to go up in a robust Spring market and throughout 2017.
Right now is a really great time to be buying a home in Westchester or the Hudson Valley.
Man, do I hate saying that. As I’ve explained before, I hate the phrase “great time to buy” for a couple of reasons.
First, people have different needs, and a market that’s great for one person might be terrible for another person.
Second, while markets tend to move together, we do see micro-markets (i.e., towns and villages) that defy larger trends. So while it might be a great time to buy in Village A, it might be not so great in Town B.
Third, and most importantly, though, “it’s a great time to buy!” just seems like a hack thing to say, the kind of thing that TERRIBLE real estate agents have said for generations to get unsuspecting and gullible people to buy an overpriced home. And I think that most people get suspicious when real estate agents talk like that.
So I understand if you’re skeptical. And that’s why I don’t want to just TELL you it’s a great time to buy, I want to SHOW you why it’s a great time to buy.
Specifically, I want to make this specific point: the monthly payment you need to buy an inflation-adjusted average priced home in Westchester and the Hudson Valley is as low as its been in a generation.
Think about what I’m saying for a second. I’m NOT saying that homes are cheaper than they’ve ever been. That’s not true. Depending on the year, homes have appreciated, and if you go back more than 15 years, they’ve appreciated pretty dramatically. I’m just saying that the MONTHLY PAYMENT you need to make to buy the AVERAGE PRICED HOME is lower right now than it’s been in a generation — if you control for the effects of inflation.
If you look at the graph below for Westchester County, you’ll see what I mean.
On that graph, as we’ve done before, we’ve plotted the monthly payment that a purchaser in the county would have to make to purchase the average-priced home at various points over the years. After all, affordability is not just a matter of the sales price – it’s a matter of the monthly payment you’re going to have to make, which is partly a function of the prevailing interest rate. And then to measure the change in the monthly payment over time, we factored in the effects of inflation.
So we took the following data points:
- The average price of a single family home up to the end of 2016 – from the local MLS data.
- The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for every calendar year up to 2016 – from Freddie Mac.
- The prevailing inflation rate for every calendar year up to 2016– from the US Department of Labor.
You can see the results on the graph. The monthly payment you have to make to purchase the average-priced home in Westchester is just about as low as it’s been in years. We saw the slightest uptick from 2012-2014, partially because of a slight increase in pricing and a slow inflating of interest rates. But the payment came down again over the past two years, with rates falling and prices stalling.
Generally, though, we’re talking about a monthly payment that is as low as anytime in the past 35 years – and as low as it was in the mid-1990s, during a crippling buyer’s market.
So why are monthly payments lower than they’ve been in a generation? A couple of reasons:
- Prices. Part of it is that we have not seen prices go up in any measurable way in almost 10 years. Home prices peaked in 2006-08, lost about 25-30% of value from 2008-2010, and have bounced around a little since then. But they’re still around 2004 levels — without controlling for inflation.
- Inflation. Ah, yes, inflation — the value of money goes down a little bit each year as inflation takes a bite. Now, inflation rates have been pretty low over the past 15 years from historical standards, but that little bit each year does add up.
- Rates. But the biggest reason we’re seeing monthly payments lower than they’ve been in a generation is that rates are still at historic lows. After all, about ten years ago, the average interest rate was about 6%. For the past few years, it’s been below 4%. That’s a huge difference in your monthly payment.
And the same is true throughout the Hudson Valley. I showed you Westchester first because we have good data on prices for the county going back all the way to 1981. In other counties, our data doesn’t go back as far, but if we look at each of those counties you can see that it’s pretty much the same story for the time period we have.
Orange County. Here’s Orange County, where we have data going back to 1994:
You can see that the monthly payment to buy an average-priced home in Orange County is lower right now than it’s been in over 20 years.
Rockland County. In Rockland, we have data going back to 2002, over 14 years of data.
Again, you can see that even with a slight rise in the past few years, the monthly payment you have to make to buy the average-priced home in Rockland is lower right now than it’s been since at least 2002, and probably for quite a bit of time before that.
Putnam County. Similarly, we have data going back to 2002 in Putnam, and the story is the same:
Dutchess County. Again, same story in Dutchess County for that same period:
And although we don’t have data for Orange, Rockland, Putnam, or Dutchess going back as far as Westchester, the fact that the curve over the recent decade or so is very consistent with Westchester’s results suggests that, like in Westchester, the monthly payment you need to make throughout the Hudson Valley is lower right now than it’s been since the Carter administration.
Condos and Coops. All that’s for single-family homes. What about condos and coops? Well, we don’t have data going back as far, but in each county, condos (and coops in Westchester) show the same trend — the monthly payment to buy an average priced condo or coop in the region is lower right now than it’s been at any time since the 2005 era. Here are the graphs:
You can see that except for Westchester and Putnam condos, which have seen some pricing changes in the past two years, the monthly payments are lower than any time since 2005. And even in Westchester and Putnam, they’re lower now than at any time in the last decade, just a little higher than the last two years.
We wrote this up last year, and predicted that 2015 would be the last time we’d be able to say it. Surprisingly, though, prices stayed flat for 2016 while rates stayed down, so we have yet another year where the real monthly payment you have to make to buy the average-priced home in our region is lower than it’s been in years.
Again, I HATE it when real estate professionals say that “this is a great time to buy,” because at many times in our history that has been bad advice.
But if you measure a “great time to buy” by looking at the monthly payment you’ll have to make to buy a home, then we’re talking about as good a time to buy as any in the past decades. Prices have been flat for almost 10 years, and they’re down significantly if you factor in the effects of inflation. And interest rates are still as low as we’ve ever seen them. Unless we see some major shock to the economy, I think we’re looking at a near-decade of reasonable price appreciation coupled with increasing interest rates – both of which are going to drive that monthly payment up over the next few years.
So I’m not going to tell you what to do. That’s not my job. But if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, I think these graphs speak for themselves.
Joe Rand is the Chief Creative Officer of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Rand Realty, and compiles and writes the Rand Quarterly Market Report.
The Dutchess County housing market finished strong in the fourth quarter of 2016, with a sustained increase in sales along with the largest yearly price appreciation in over ten years.
Sales. Dutchess single-family home sales were up again in the fourth quarter, rising over 7% from last year and marking the ninth quarter in a row with year-on-year sales increases. And for the calendar year, sales were up almost 16%, rising to the highest yearly total that we’ve seen since 2005 and up 73% from the 2011 bottom.
Prices. This sustained increase in sales activity is finally having its expected impact on pricing, with single-family home pricing up just a tick for the quarter. For the year, though, prices were up almost 3% on average and 2% at the median. That may not seem like much, but it was the highest price appreciation that we’ve seen in a calendar year since 2006. Prices are still at 200304 levels (without controlling for inflation), but they are moving in a positive direction.
Negotiability. Dutchess inventory continues to decline, now down to 11.5 months of active single-family listings. Although we are nowhere near the six-month level of inventory that usually signals a “seller’s market,” we are certainly seeing some tightening that could support further price appreciation. The other negotiability indicators were mixed, with days on market flat while listing retention rose.
Condominiums. The condo market was also up, with sales rising almost 16% but prices falling a bit after a spike in the third quarter. For the year, condo sales are up almost 17%, and pricing is up sharply both on average and at the median.
Going forward, Dutchess is looking forward to a promising 2017. With tightening inventory, a stable economy, near-historically low interest rates, and homes still priced at appealing 2003-04 levels, Dutchess is likely to see meaningful price appreciation through next year.
The Putnam County housing market finished the 2016 year strong, with sales continuing to rise even while inventory tightened.
Sales. Putnam sales were up again in the fourth quarter, with single-family home closings up almost 10% from last year and now up almost 21% for the year. The market is just sizzling, with transactions up in 10 straight quarters and 18 out of the last 19.
Prices. Even with demand up, though, pricing is surprisingly stubborn. Single-family home prices were down across the board, falling 3% on average and almost 1% in the median and price-per-square foot. For the year, though, prices were up almost 2% on average, 6% at the median, and 10% in the price-per-square foot.
Inventory. Inventory continued to tighten, falling over 43%, now down to 5.05 months of inventory, which is below the six-month mark that usually denotes a tightening seller’s market. With inventory this low, we are likely to see some upward pressure on pricing going into 2017.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators showed that sellers continue to gain leverage with buyers, with the listing retention rate rising to 96.6% and the days-on-market falling by 16 days for single-family homes. We would expect homes to continue to sell more quickly and for closer to the asking price if the market heats up.
Condos. The condo market was strikingly weak, with sales down 25% and prices down almost 13% for the quarter. The Putnam condo market is a very thin market, with only a few dozen sales per quarter, so we should be careful about drawing conclusions. For the year, sales were up 6%, but prices did show some sustained weakness, down 12% on average and 11% at the median.
Going forward, we do believe that the fundamentals of the market are strong prices at attractive levels, interest rates still near historic lows, and a gradually improving economy. Accordingly, we believe that tightening inventory, coupled with resilient demand, will drive meaningful price appreciation in 2017.
The Orange County housing market surged yet again in the fourth quarter of 2016, with clear signs of meaningful price appreciation for the first time in years.
Sales. Orange single-family sales were up yet again, rising almost 19% from last year’s fourth quarter, and finishing the full 2016 calendar year up almost 25%. This continues a trend we’ve been watching for almost five years, with Orange sales now up nine quarters in a row and 18 out of the last 19. Even more telling, the 3,542 yearly single-family home sales were the most since 2005, and were up 112% from the bottom of the market in 2011.
Prices. These sustained increases in buyer demand are finally having a meaningful impact on pricing, with single-family home prices up a tick on average and almost 4% at the median compared to last year’s fourth quarter. More importantly, prices were up ever-so-slightly for the year, just under 1% on both the average and the median. That may not seem like much, but it was the first time that Orange calendar-year prices rose since 2007.
Inventory. The available inventory continues to tighten in the single-family market, closing in on the six-month market that usually indicates a tight seller’s market. As inventory falls, we would expect even more upward pressure on pricing.
Condominiums. The Orange condo market showed signs of life, with sales up over 10% for the quarter and finishing the year up almost 9%. The condo market has struggled for years in Orange, particularly as the price point between condos and houses narrowed. But that gap might be widening as single-family home prices accelerate, which would likely stop the bleeding in the condo market pricing.
Going forward, we believe that the Orange County housing market is looking forward to its best year since the height of the last seller’s market. The fundamentals are strong: demand is high, prices are still at attractive 2003-04 levels, interest rates are at historic lows, and the economy is generally improving. With inventory declining, we expect to see more meaningful price appreciation in 2017.