The Rockland County housing market surged in the third quarter of 2015, with sales up sharply and prices continuing to show signs of recovery. Although activity is likely to ease up a bit in the fourth quarter, Rockland still has ample room for both transactional and price growth over the longer-term.
Sales. Rockland sales were up sharply, rising 26.5% from the third quarter of last year and now up 16.4% for the rolling year. We’ve now seen sustained rates of growth for over three years, with transactions up for the last four quarters and 12 out of the last 13. Indeed, sales totals are now approaching “seller market levels,” with the 602 quarterly closings the highest since the third quarter of 2004, and the 1,721 yearly sales the highest since 2006
Prices. This sustained surge in buyer demand had its expect impact on pricing, with prices up across the board: up 5.9% on average, 2.4% at the median, and 3.5% in the price-per-square foot. Average prices have now risen in three out of the last four quarters, and six out of the last nine. Other than a peak we briefly hit during the artificial home-buyer tax credit bounce in 2010, this was the highest quarterly average sales price point reached since the market correction in 2008.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators were mixed, with the listing price retention rate rising sharply but the days-on-market flat. Going forward, we expect that the retention rate will continue to increase and the days-on-market will drop as the market tightens, strengthening sellers’ negotiating positions.
Condos. The condo market fell sharply, defying a trend throughout the region this quarter that saw the highest levels of growth in the lower priced markets. Even with the decline in closings, though, we saw good news in the pricing, with the average and median both up. Over the longer-term, the rolling year numbers were stronger, with sales up 4.2% and prices up across the board.
Going forward, we expect the Rockland market to continue to strengthen. Although we are already seeing sales near seller market levels, we’ve not yet seen any sustained appreciation in pricing. While sales activity is unlikely to maintain its current torrid pace, we believe that Rockland still has room for growth through the end of the year and into 2016.