CommentaryMarket June 4, 2012

Wow! May 2012 Was Our Best May Since 2007!!

May continued the strong spring in the Westchester real estate market with the highest total of closings in 5 years. Overall, the data for single family home sales from the Hudson Gateway (formerly Westchester-Putnam) MLS saw not only an improvement in total closings from last year, but also an increase in median price. The improvement did not stop there.

In all, 364 single family homes closed in May 2012 at a median price of $615,000.
In May 2011, 308 single family homes closed at a median price of $591,625.

That is an increase in median price of 4%. It is an increase in closed sales of 18%. It was also the best month in closed transactions since May of 2007, when there were 401 sales before the housing market collapse began later that summer.

Year to date, 2012 is outpacing 2011 with an increase of 8% in closed sales. Median price is down $15,000 overall, but the gap is narrowing. Currently, 1396 homes are under contract or pending sale at a median asking price of $650,000. This is in keeping with the tendency for the market to trend up as those who sold their starter homes purchase their “move up” properties. It also bodes well for the upward tend to continue into June.

4250 homes are active for sale at an asking price of $650,000, which is the identical median price of the homes under contract. We are seeing balance.

While it is hard to find any bad news in the May results, I cannot be completely bullish for the short run. Are we past bottoming out? I think we are. Consider that in May 2009 there were only 217 single family home closings in the county. That part is good. But there remains a shadow inventory of distressed homes not yet on the market, and banks are putting the robo signing scandal behind them. Expect more foreclosures to temper the good news in 2013. A true recovery is measured in years, not months. Consumer confidence remains shaky and money is still tight.

However, for now, buyer have choices and sellers gained back a little leverage. Expect a good June, and also expect the surrounding counties further out to start to heat up later toward summer and autumn as the dominoes fall here in Westchester.