Never one who was big on remembering or quoting verse from the Bible, I do sometimes think of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1-4. You know, the passage about the appropriate times to do this or that, when to mourn or rejoice, and all that? It’s gotten me through the low spots when I’ve thought, okay, I guess this is one of those down times when I should just lie low or kick up my heels.
During 2013, we realtors were able to say this is the time to rejoice and this is the time for homeowners to sell and buyers to buy. At least that’s what the report of the Multiple Listing Service, released last week, confirmed that we should do.
The good news was that the real estate business was better in 2013 than it had been since we laid a big fat egg after 2007. Westchester posted a 21 percent sales increase from 2012 to 2013 and Putnam a 17 percent increase. To paraphrase a certain Dickens novel in a skewed kind of way, it was the best of times to buy and it was the best of times to sell a house.
Those of my colleagues who were able to survive in the real estate business (and a significant percentage of us didn’t) are glad we stayed the course. In 2013, many of us had our best year yet despite certain limitations, such as decreased inventory which tended to crimp our style when a buyer client would desperately want a property only to find that there were multiple bids.
In Westchester, the housing inventory dropped from 2,570 units in 2012 to 2,327 units in 2013, a 9.5 percent decline. In Putnam, the number decreased from 708 in 2012 to 681 in 2013, a 3.8 percent decline.
This all augured well for home values. In Westchester, the median sales price of a single-family rose 3.9 percent, from $587,00 in 2012 to $610,000 in 2013. In Putnam, the median sales price rose 2.8 percent to $308,500. Quizzically, however, average prices in the year-end report in most towns decreased while the number of sales went up simply because many more homes in the lower end that were sitting on the shelf during the recession came on the market.
Because all real estate is local, I thought it would be fun to see how the good news translates into sales in a sampling of communities served by The Examiner newspapers. Although I’m normally not a numbers guy, when it comes to anything related to the value of my life’s biggest investment, I just love to see numbers stacked side by side.
Here are 2013 sales numbers for the Byram Hills School District (serving Armonk, Bedford, Mount Pleasant, Chappaqua and Pleasantville).
In 2012, 106 homes sold compared with 129 in 2013. Those with the town average of four bedrooms. sold for an average price of $1,183,212 in 2012, compared with a $1,192,733 average in 2013. The median selling price for a four-bedroom home in 2012 was $1,150,000; in 2013, it was $895,000. The most expensive home sold in 2012 was $2,950,000; in 2013, it was $9,300,000. Total volume of all homes sold in 2012 was $125,420,498; in 2013, $153,862,494.
Scooting over to Mount Kisco…
In 2012, 34 homes sold compared with 40 in 2013. Those with the town average of three bedrooms, sold in 2012 for an average price of $564,432 compared to $562,549 in 2013. The median selling price for a three-bedroom home in 2012 was $470,500; in 2013, it was $460,00. The most expensive home sold in 2012 was $1,250,000; in 2013, it was $1,160,000. Total volume of all homes sold in 2012 was $19,190,700 in 2013, $22,501,950.
What about a larger town like Yorktown?
Perhaps because of its more moderately priced homes combined with good schools and services, Yorktown saw the most dramatic increase in sales in the past year. In 2012, 185 homes sold compared with 512 in 2013. Those with the town average of three bedrooms sold for an average price of $409,230 in 2012 compared to $393,928 in 2013. The median selling price for a three-bedroom home in 2012 was $380,000; in 2013, it was $342,250. The most expensive home sold in 2012 was $1,600,000; in 2013, it was $5,500,000. Total volume of all homes sold in 2012 was $75,707,578; in 2013, $201,691,342.
What’s doing in Putnam?
In Mahopac, 127 homes sold in 2012 compared with 160 in 2013. Those with the town average of three bedrooms sold for an average price of $363,423 in 2012 compared to $388,119 in 2013. The median selling price for a three-bedroom home in 2012 was $349,000; in 2013, it was $335,000. The most expensive home sold in 2012 was $1,070,000; in 2013, it was $1,550.000. Total volume of all homes sold in 2012 was $46,154,762; in 2013, $62,098,961.
For those thinking about buying or selling in the near future, do I hear any heels clicking?
Bill Primavera is a Residential and Commercial Realtor® associated with Coldwell Banker, as well as a publicist and journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions about home maintenance or to engage him to help you buy or sell a home, he can be emailed at Bill@TheHomeGuru.com or called directly at 914-522-2076.