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Westchester Housing Market Gains Momentum

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – The Westchester real estate market is improving, and its momentum might have some staying power, according to Westchester County’s Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, which just released its second quarter analysis for 2012.

Realtors reported 1,788 closed residential sales in Westchester County during the second quarter, which is an increase of 13.0 percent over the same period last year.

Single-family house sales led the charge with 16.7 percent increase in sales, followed by condominium sales with a 12.8 percent increase, and co-op sales with a 7.0 percent rise.

Gary Leogrande, broker for Keller Williams NY Realty and president of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, says the second quarter numbers reflect renewed consumer confidence – as well as that of an unusually balmy winter. “The weather certainly helped. People went out there, found properties to buy and bought them.”

He adds that home sales in general are trending upward, showing consumer confidence in “both the economy in general and in their own situations.” This, says, Leogrande, bodes well for the following quarter as well.

While sales were up, prices were down slightly in the second quarter. The median price of a single-family house was $619,000 – a decrease of 0.6 percent from a year ago. Prices for co-ops were also down by 0.6 percent, and the median price of a condominium dropped by 3.0 percent to $338,000.

Nancy Kennedy, associate broker Houlihan Lawrence Croton-on-Hudson and president of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, is guardedly optimistic about the second quarter numbers. The good news, she says, is that “buyers are taking advantage of this incredible market.” Made so, she adds, by reduced pricing and “historically low” interest rates.”

There were 7,081 residential units listed for sale in the Multiple Listing Service in Westchester at the close of this quarter, 11.5 percent fewer than last year. The report cites the recent spurt in sales volume accounting for some of “constriction of inventory.”

However, the report says most likely the decrease reflects “reticence of property owners to enter the housing market while economic conditions remained shaky.”

That reticence, says Kennedy, might be difficult to shake: “While I believe we have hit the bottom of the market, it will take several years before we see any appreciation in Westchester County.”

But the report is optimistic, stating that taking first quarter of 2012 into consideration, if this “strong pace” continues, the likely year-end total of sales persists will be in the range of 6,700 – 6,900 units, which would make 2012 the strongest year since 2008.

Leogrande’s outlook is similarly sanguine: “This is a historically great time to buy a home,” he says. “Years from now, people will look back on this time and say, ‘I should have bought a house back then.’ The smart people will look back happily because they did.”

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