Plenty of interesting words have been used to portray the real estate market over the last several years, but we’re partial to the one Houlihan Lawrence is currently using to describe the state of Westchester’s housing market: “We are happy to report that a Goldilocks market—neither too hot nor too cold—is now firmly in place in New York City’s northern suburbs. The conditions are well balanced and solid for both buyers and sellers to make informed decisions as we head into a promising 2015,” reads the firm’s 4th Quarter 2014 Market Report, which is presented by Chris Meyersï»¿, managing principal of Houlihan Lawrence.
Here’s a breakdown of the report’s good news:
Westchester single-family home prices are rising—and they are getting closer to the all-time highs of 2007. For Q4, median prices were up about 2 percent from a year ago. For the year, the increase was 4 percent to $635,000. While the pace of price increases slowed towards the end of the year, Westchester price levels are now just 7 percent below the 2007 peak of $685,000. And in some communities in Lower Westchester and the Sound Shore, home prices have already surpassed previous highs.
Sales are happening faster. Average days on the market for Westchester single-family homes are the lowest since 2006.
Properties are selling closer to asking price. Sales prices in Westchester are the closest to asking prices since 2005. In Lower Westchester, the Rivertowns, and the Sound Shore, single-family homes are getting closer to ask than the firm has seen in more than a decade.
The luxury market surged at the end of the year. Sales of homes priced above $2 million were up 28 percent in the 4th quarter versus one year ago. For the entire year of 2014, the luxury market was up 16 percent. Demand is growing, and so too is the supply of luxury homes for sale—the inventory of homes priced over $2 million is up 25 percent from 2013.
The report also points to some interesting trends that will impact the 2015 housing market. For one thing, new construction continues to be increasingly popular. “Buyers are paying up for new construction. While this has always been true to a degree, we are now seeing the premium at the highest levels in memory,” notes Meyers. In addition, weekend buyers seem to be back in force, boosting the second-home market in Northern Westchester towns like Bedford and Pound Ridge. Plus, Houlihan Lawrence is predicting that millennials will drive a new wave of suburban home buying in 2015. “Millennials (born between 1980 and the mid/late 1990s) are already the biggest segment of homebuyers. More of them have better jobs, and with the US economy growing at its fastest pace in more than a decade, their buying power has the potential to create a lot more activity in the market,” the report notes.