The Westchester housing market in the fourth quarter of 2016 started to show the impact of tightening inventory, with sales flattening out and prices rising as buyers chased fewer available homes for sale.
Inventory. The story in Westchester as 2016 ended was about the declining inventory. We calculate the “months of inventory” by measuring how long it would take to sell out the existing available homes at the current rate of sales. Anything below six months is considered a “tight” market, and Westchester has now crossed over that line in all property types: down to 3.8 months for single-family homes, 4.5 months for coops, and a sizzling 2.6 months for condos.
Sales. Westchester sales remain strong, with 2016 single-family transactions up over 8% for the year. Indeed, yearly sales hit their highest total since 2004, and are up 85% from their 2009 bottom. But you can see that the rate of growth is slowing if you look at the quarterly numbers, where single-family home sales were up just a tick and condo and coop sales were down sharply. Why? Because the market needs fuel for the fire, and the limited inventory is providing buyers with fewer options to purchase.
Prices. The flip side of limited inventory, of course, is rising prices, as buyers chase fewer options and get into multiple-offer situations and bidding wars that drive prices up. And we are finally starting to see the impact of limited inventory on Westchester pricing, with quarterly prices up over 3% for single-family homes, 10% for coops, and 3% for condos. For the year, prices were mostly down or flat, and they remain close to their 2004-05 levels, but we believe they are poised to rise in 2017.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators also showed the impact of declining inventory, with listing retention up and days-on-market down. Simply put, homes are selling more quickly, and for closer to the asking price. Indeed, for single-family homes, the yearly listing retention rate of 97.5% homes was the highest since 2005, and the yearly days-on-market of 161 was the lowest since 2006.
Going forward, we believe that the fundamentals in the Westchester market are tremendous. With inventory tightening, pricing at 2004-05 levels, interest rates still near historic lows, and a generally improving economy, we expect that buyer demand will stay strong and eventually drive meaningful price appreciation in 2017.