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Putnam Real Estate Closings Jumped by 22% June-August

Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors
Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors
by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors

Third quarter residential real estate closings soared by nearly 29% over last year’s counts in the four counties serviced by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

The MLS received postings of 4,579 completed sales of single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and 2-4 family dwellings.  

The percentage increase was the greatest in Westchester County, at 31%, followed by Rockland (26%), Orange (24%) and Putnam (22%). In most cases the increases among the various property classes brought the sales counts to pre-recession levels. In Westchester, for example, the 1,991 reported closings of single family houses during this third quarter were the most for any quarter since 2005. In all of the counties except Rockland, sales of condominiums and cooperatives outpaced single family houses as a percentage increase over last year. 

The region is beginning to see modest price increases more often than not. Rockland County experienced the largest percentage price increase, 5.4%, in its single family median price, taking it to $410,000. Putnam posted the next largest increase, 5.0%, with a median price of $332,750. Putnam also posted a large 6.9% increase in condominium prices (but its data are subject to large percentage swings because its base counts are relatively small).  Only Orange County failed to post an increase in house prices; in fact, the median sale price of $240,000 was 2.0% lower than last year. However, Orange County provides the most affordable housing in the region and attracts buyers who are the most price sensitive, which gives lower price housing there a larger share of the market basket, at least for now. Note that Orange’s condominium sector, a lower priced alternative to single family houses, posted a 4.4% increase to $166,000 in its median price.

All the faster paced activity has driven inventory to low but not market-killing amounts. New listings just haven’t been keeping pace with sales. Putnam and Rockland both posted 3% decreases.

The supporting framework for continued recovery in our region’s real estate market includes mortgage interest rates that have remained at relatively low levels. The average rate on a conventional 30-year mortgage was less than 4% during much of the period that generated the third quarter sales. Rates are now hovering around 4.6%-4.8%, still very attractive. Of course that could all change if the current political dysfunction in Washington causes a debt crisis. Actions of the Federal Reserve could also drive rates up, but for now the interest rates are stable and affordable.  

Also supporting the real estate market is the steady though painfully slow improvement in the rate of unemployment. All four counties in the MLS region have experienced a decline in the unemployment rate in the past year. The most recent rates available from the N.Y.S. Department of Labor are 5.8% for Putnam, 6.0% for Rockland, 6.3% for Westchester, and 7.3% for Orange – all at least one percentage point less than last year, and all lower than the national and state rates.  

The third quarter data largely reflect closings that followed upon listing and marketing activity in the spring and early summer months. There was, and remains, a great deal of pent up demand since the 2008 recession and its greatest impact on our local real estate market in 2010. It appears there is enough demand to continue to power the market going forward as long as there is no national self inflicted economic convulsion. 

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