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Westchester Real Estate Market Gains Strength

The real estate market in Westchester County gained momentum in the last quarter of 2012, which bodes well for 2013 and beyond.
The real estate market in Westchester County gained momentum in the last quarter of 2012, which bodes well for 2013 and beyond. Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Real estate sales in Westchester County were up considerably during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a report issued by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors .

Sales of single-family houses rose 30 percent during the last three months of 2012 in Westchester County compared to the same period during 2011, according to the report.

Richard Haggerty, the association’s chief executive officer, said the fourth quarter of 2012 was “the third consecutive quarter that shows a significant growth in terms of transactions.”

Haggerty said prices were still relatively flat in 2012, with no significant increase during the year, but there was an increase in the median price for single-family homes in the fourth quarter compared with the same time a year earlier.

The report also stated that sales in the region generally increased in each quarter of 2012 and that they were particularly strong in the final three months of the year.

Although real estate traditionally runs in cycles, said Joseph Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Westchester, the fourth-quarter numbers for 2012 bode well for 2013 and beyond. “It’s looking like 1997 all over again,” he said, referring to a historically strong point in the real estate market.

“The report shows strong signs of continued stability in the market,” said Amy Kane, vice president and director of new business development for Douglas Elliman, Westchester.

The number of sales of one-family homes increased to 1,034, and the number of sales of two- to four-family homes decreased by 15.2 percent. The report also said that year-end inventory in the region (which includes Putnam, Orange and Rockland counties) amounted to 9,622 units, a decrease of 12 percent in Westchester from the 10,603 units at the end of 2011.

Rand said the combination of low interest rates and an increase in consumer confidence aided in the strong showing for the last quarter of last year. “I can’t imagine interest rates will go much lower,” he said.

“We’ve gone through a downward trending cycle the past four years," said Gary Leogrande, principal broker at Keller Williams NY Realty. "While it is impossible to time the bottom of the cycle, many indicators are that this is a great time to make a purchase.”

As to the outlook for 2013, Kane demurs on speculating, but said the real estate market is finally showing the stability that is essential for long-term growth. “People buy real estate because it is a tangible investment rather than a short-term, speculative purchase,” she said.

The report further states that as long as there are no national economic or political catastrophes, “the region’s homebuyers can look forward to a housing market that will offer moderate pricing – at least for a time.”

“This is the best time to invest – either in the form of a new home or an opportunity to trade up – in real estate in more than 30 years,” Rand said.

Haggerty said, “Barring any economic hiccups, I’m optimistic about the outlook for 2013 and beyond.”

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