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Rivertowns Show Big Jump in Pending Home Sales

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Brokerage firms have released their real estate analyses for the first quarter of 2012 for Westchester County. The analyses are based on data from Westchester County’s Empire Access Multiple Listing Service .

The high-end market (single-family homes with more than five bedrooms, selling for $1 million or more) showed the most improvement from last year, says the report from Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate . This was the only segment that showed a gain in market share, as well as an increase in median sales price, from the same quarter last year. Median sales prices jumped 12.2 percent in the luxury market from last year, which represented the top 10 percent of all sales in the first quarter.

This uptick, said Amy Kane of Prudential Douglas Elliman, is an “indication of increased consumer confidence from consumers in that segment of the market.” Kane is Douglas Elliman’s vice president/director of business development for Westchester and also is vice president/director of sales at TriBeCa gallery in New York City.

Of the county's River Towns region, Chris Meyers, chief operating officer of Houlihan Lawrence, stated: “Demand is high in the River Towns region of Westchester, compared with the same period last year, when demand was low.”

He added, “Pending sales in the region are up 39 percent when compared with the first quarter of last year, a double-digit gain that is the highest during quarter one since 2005.”

While listing inventory edged 1.5 percent higher in the quarter, that gain was offset by an increase in sales. As a result, the “absorption rate” – the number of months it takes to sell all inventory at the current pace of sales – remained unchanged at 15.9 months. That is because most of the deals in late 2011 were in the lower price ranges, Kane said. However, she added, there was a modest gain in activity – an increase in units sold, for example.

Price indicators were below the levels of previous years. The median sales price in the first quarter was $380,000, a 5 percent drop from $400,000 during the same period last year. And price per square foot and average sales price showed similar trends, declining 2.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, during the period.

Average sales price also declined, down 3.4 percent to $534,977 from $553,846 in the first quarter of 2011.

The Westchester housing market continues to grapple with tight credit and the challenges of a weak but slowly improving economy. But overall, said Kane, industry professionals are feeling positive about the future.

“The modest increase in sales over the same period last year offset the seasonal expansion of inventory, so the absorption rate remained unchanged,” she said.

She adds: “I’m not certain that in quarter one of 2011 we would have predicted this kind of stability, and market stability is a great first step toward recovery.”

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