Pricing in the Orange County housing market surged in the fourth quarter of 2019, even while low levels of inventory continued to stifle sales growth. Pricing was up across the board, with single-family home prices rising over 8% on average and almost 9% at the median compared to last year’s fourth quarter. And for the full 2019 year, single-family prices were up 3% on average and almost 5% in the median. Condo prices were also generally up, rising 5% on average and over 6% at the median for the year, even while the quarterly numbers were mixed. We note that sales activity for both single-family and condo homes was down for the quarter, but that was largely based on a lack of inventory rather than a slackening of demand. Orange inventory is way down, finishing the year with under five months of inventory for single-family homes and an unprecedented two months for condos. Going forward, we think that rising prices will tempt more sellers into the spring market, and that buyer demand will stay strong with rates low and the economy growing.
The Orange County housing market cruised through the third quarter of 2019, with moderate increases in both sales and prices. Single-family home sales rose by almost 3% compared to last year’s third quarter, making up for a more sluggish second-quarter. Pricing was mixed, with the median price up almost 5% but the average down a tick. Why the discrepancy between the average and the median? We believe that the 2018 Tax Reform cap on state and local tax deductions is hampering the highest-end of the market, which is holding down the average even while the overall strength in the market buoys the median. Indeed, the lower-priced condo market doesn’t show the same discrepancy, with both the average and median up sharply, because the condo market doesn’t have a “high end” that is holding it back. Overall, we believe that the fundamentals of the market remain strong – demand is high, inventory is reasonably available, interest rates are near historic lows, and the economy is solid. Accordingly, we expect that Orange will continue to thrive through the end of the year and into 2020.
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty’s Celina Rofer Voted Best Real Estate Agent
The Times Herald Record Readers’ Choice Best of the Best 2019 Winner — Celina Rofer, Associate Broker, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty
Central Valley, NY – Celina Rofer, Associate Broker, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, Central Valley has been named among the “Best of the Best” in The Times Herald Record Readers’ Choice Awards.
With 14 years of Real Estate experience, 10 of which have been with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, Rofer says that she prides herself on giving the best of herself and her team to her clients. “Ask any Realtor and they will say their clients are the best, but…I’m just going to say it, My clients are the best! They understand we are a team from the first meeting to closing. It becomes a great working relationship which often ends up in long-lasting friendships. After being a Realtor® for 14 years, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else,” says Rofer. She credits her support team for her success. “I’m especially fortunate to have the best support team, professionally and personally. Without my family, my Rand family and my close friends I wouldn’t be able to do any of this successfully. It really does take a Village.”
She added, “The Times Herald Record’s Best of the Best Reader’s Choice event is extremely prestigious and it is truly an honor to be selected as the winner of the Best Real Estate Agent category. It’s so exciting and was such a memorable night. Congratulations go out to everyone in every category!”
Along with being a successful Real Estate Broker, Rofer is an active member of her community, serving as the Vice President of the Greater Washingtonville Lions Club, where she is spearheading the building of an inclusive playground in the Village of Washingtonville, the biggest project in the club’s history. Rofer sponsored her first Washingtonville Little League team this year and is also a sponsor of the Washingtonville Youth Football Club and a Platinum sponsor of the Washingtonville Date Night summer events.
“This is a well-deserved honor for Celina Rofer; she is a true team player and gives her all to her clients, day in and day out,” says Matt Rand, CEO Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty. “Our entire Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty family is extremely proud of her!”
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty is Orange County’s Best Real Estate Company for the 5th Consecutive Year
The Times Herald Record Readers’ Choice Best of the Best 2019 Winner — Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty
Central Valley, NY – Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty has been named “Best Real Estate Company,” standing among the “Best of the Best” in The Times Herald Record Readers’ Choice Awards. This is the fifth consecutive win for the brokerage.
As a premier real estate company in the Hudson Valley for over 35 years, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty’s team of sales associates leads the way in excellence. “We’re humbled by the kindness and loyalty of our clients and The Times Herald Record readers – and we graciously thank them for voting for us year after year,” says Renee Zurlo, General Manager, Greater Hudson Valley Region, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty brings together the resources of a large national company, with the local expertise of a family-owned business. “Our family has grown up in the Hudson Valley, so we have a deep and personal understanding of our clients’ wants and needs and what the region has to offer. We greatly appreciate The Times Herald Record Readers for recognizing our company and sales associates, along with our endless commitment to our communities and the clients we serve,” says Matt Rand, CEO Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.
Demand in the Orange County housing market continued to grow in the second quarter of 2019, even while a lack of inventory stifled sales growth. Single-family home sales fell sharply compared to the second quarter of 2019, dropping almost 11%, but we believe that has more to do with a shortage of supply rather than a lack of demand. Why? Because quarterly single-family home prices were way up across the board, rising almost 3% on average, 6% at the median and 8% in the price-per-square-foot. And condo prices absolutely spiked, rising almost 20% on average, 16% at the median, and over 15% in the price-per-square-foot. Unlike its higher-priced neighbors like Westchester and Rockland, Orange has been largely immune from the impact of the 2018 tax reform cap on state and local tax deductions, because buyers at Orange’s price point are more likely to take the standard deduction anyway. Going forward, we believe Orange prices will continue to appreciate through the summer and fall, and expect that sales might go up if we see more inventory hit the market.
RJ Smith likes to win. Not only is he an ace broker here at Rand Realty, but he is a competitive race car driver and his car recently won the track championship for the third year in a row, with six wins.
Racing with the official Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty hot rod, RJ raced in Formula 2000s across the country, and now goes dirt track racing every weekend, April through October. “The Rand hot rod has won the track championship for the third consecutive year!
“This year we are looking forward to returning to the Orange County Fair Speedway to join in the celebration of 100 years of auto racing at the track. We will be scheduling a special event that the entire Rand team looks forward to.”
Although he has been passionate about racing for as long as he can remember, he made the decision to begin competing at the age of 38 – inspired by Paul Newman, who started to compete in races around age 40 while still an actor, film director, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. RJ now has his own race shop located right down the street from the Rand Realty office in Pine Bush
RJ says that as an older race car driver, he plans to mentor and help new people in the sport when he finally retires from competitive racing. “I pride myself on living life to the fullest and racing is a huge part of my life. I plan to always continue my involvement in the racing world to some capacity, I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon,” he said.
RJ dedicates himself whole heartedly to everything he is passionate about, including his wife of 46 years and their three children. He has worked in leadership positions in real estate for decades. And, he has invested years serving his community.
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty Announces the Promotion of Deborah Clark, Manager of the New Windsor Office
New Windsor, NY—Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty announced the promotion of real estate veteran Deborah Clark to become the new manager of Rand Realty’s New Windsor office. Deborah has served as manager of the Pine Bush office for two-and-a-half years and will continue to act as manager there as well. She will take over for Wayne Patterson, the previous New Windsor office manager, who will continue his career at Rand Realty, focusing on sales in the Warwick office.
“Deborah has done a great job leading our Pine Bush office and will be a dynamic addition as manager of the New Windsor office. We look forward to working with her in this new role and we’re confident her leadership skills and enthusiasm will greatly enhance the continued growth of our New Windsor team,” said Matt Rand, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.
Prior to launching her successful real estate career, Deborah held a corporate job with a major national company. She joined Rand Realty in 2003 and became a top producer there within her first year.
“The most rewarding part of my job is coaching and training agents on how to achieve their goals. It was so rewarding to see that 93% of our agents from the Pine Bush office surpassed their 2017 numbers in 2018,” said Deborah. “We had a banner year, maintaining our #1 Company status in Orange County, a result of great teamwork on all fronts” said Deborah.
She added, “Rand Realty provides tools that help enhance the careers of individual agents and is truly ‘for the agent’ and making every agent a success. Agents love that we have 28 offices all under one owner, and that each of the Rands are extremely involved with every office.”
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 2017 – from the local MLS data.
•The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for every calendar year up to 2017 – from Freddie Mac.
•The prevailing inflation rate for every calendar year up to 2017– 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:
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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 2016 would be the last time we’d be able to say it. And we were mostly correct, since prices throughout the region went up a bit, and rates started to creep up. So it’s not quite right to say that 2018 is the best year to buy a home in a generation, since 2917 and 2916might have been better. But you have to otice the trend — 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.