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WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — Second quarter sales zoomed up 8.4 percent for single family homes in Westchester County compared to the same quarter in 2014, according to figures released by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
Sales escalated 14.8 percent in the four counties in the HGAR report. They are Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange. Realtors in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, a subsidiary of HGAR, reported a total of 3,669 closed residential transactions in the four-county service territory, 474 more than last year.
While activity increased, price appreciation has been slow but steady. The median sale price for a single family home rose 1.4 percent in Westchester
Sales of single family homes rose 12.3 percent in Putnam for the second quarter with a price appreciation of 1.6 percent.
“It’s a tale of two inventories,’’said Leah Caro, President of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and President and Principal Broker of Bronxville Real Estate. “I think there are two distinct markets, well-priced homes and over-priced homes. Things are really taking off and buyers are lined up if homes are priced in the sweet spot appropriate for the region. If a home is over-priced, the homes are sitting there and could be on the market for a long time.”
Caro said the some sellers are misinterpreting data from the strong sales numbers. “A lot of sellers are concerned about leaving money on the table,’’ Caro said. “So they’ll price their home a little bit above the sweet spot. Buyers are looking at the inventory that is priced well and they’re not going to engage homes that are overpriced.”
Jennifer Maher, the HGAR Regional VP for Westchester and Putnam, said correct pricing has been hard to define in Putnam. “A lot of homes are under priced,” said Maher, the office manager in Mahopac for J. Philip Real Estate. “That causes bidding war on homes in the same price point. It’s hard to find the right zone. The numbers are all over the price.”
Westchester County led the way among the four regions in the Hudson Gateway report with 2,183 sales, about 60 percent of the region’s total. Multifamily property sales jumped 59 percent.
The median sale price for a single family home in Westchester is $660,500 and $289,500 in Putnam.
Caro said sales figures are a reflection of “Economics 101.” “There has been this pent up exuberance for the market to return,’’ she said. “There’s an over exuberance by some sellers. They’re hearing the numbers without understanding the background.”
Caro said sellers would be wise to price their homes appropriate for the region to get the best result. “The successful sellers are pricing them at the market price or even a little below,’’ she said. “Then buyers will purchase at market or a little more. The buyers’ mentality is that they will buy what somebody else wants. None of this is new. It’s just black and white.”
Maher sees similar trends for Westchester and Putnam through the remainder of the year. “It’s a stable environment with low interest rates and low unemployment,” she said. “I’ll think we’ll see this stability for the rest of the year.’
Click on the attached PDF for the complete report.
Adjustable rate mortgages are loans with variable interest rates that change according to the market rates, as opposed to fixed rate mortgages, which guarantee a set rate for the entire period of the loan. ARMs may seem like a great idea some years, but in other years, you may wonder what you were thinking when you agreed to the loan.
Many financial experts advise home buyers to seek fixed rate mortgages. The set interest amount makes it easier to calculate monthly payments with no surprises. An adjustable rate mortgage can leave you with unpleasant surprises if the interest rates suddenly soar.
There are some pluses as well as minuses to adjustable rate mortgages. As with any financial decision, learn all you can about the topic and weigh the pros and cons carefully before choosing a loan type.
On the Plus Side…
On the Minus Side …
Adjustable rate mortgages come in and out of fashion, but the truth is that you shouldn’t take out such a loan unless you understand the worst-case scenario and how it may impact your financial health. While they are not for everyone, ARMs do offer some advantages, and those who can take advantage of these opportunities may find them useful. Talk to your lender about all the ramifications of an adjustable rate mortgage compared with a fixed rate mortgage.
Real estate sales surged in the second quarter of 2015 in the lower Hudson Valley, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors announced Friday, July 10.
Sales eclipsed last year’s second quarter sales by 14.8 percent.
Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors) reported a total of 3,669 closed residential transactions in the MLS’s four-county service territory, 474 more than last year.
The transactions included single-family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and 2-4 unit multi-family houses, and generally reflected listing and marketing activity that took place during the opening months of the year.
Officials said the strong second quarter performance built on the first quarter’s results, which itself had posted a gain of 12.1 percent over 2014’s level. On a year-to-date basis there were 6,460 sales constituting an increase of 12.4 percent over last year’s half-year results.
Here are details from the report:
In Rockland County, second quarter sales were 11.2% higher than in 2014. The median sale price of a single family house was $410,000, just a third of a percentage point higher than in 2014. Putnam County followed the same pattern with a 12.3% gain in sales volume and a moderate 1.6% increase in its median-priced house, to $289,500.
The main engine for sales volume in the Hudson Gateway region is Westchester County.
During the second quarter the county accounted for 2,183 sales or about 60% of the region’s total. All four property types tracked by the MLS showed healthy sales increases ranging from 8.4% for single family houses to 59% for multi-family properties. The median sale price of a single family house was $660,500, just 1.4% more than last year. The mean sale price of a house was $866,707, also barely increased from last year. The two measures together strongly suggest that the Westchester market was in balance as to a smooth distribution across the pricing spectrum.
By far the largest gain in sales activity occurred in Orange County, where total sales of 742 units—mostly houses and condominiums—surpassed last year’s second quarter by 30.4%. Orange County’s market has been powered in the last several years by an abundance of very moderately priced properties. The second quarter median sale price of a single family house was $209,950, nearly 10% less than last year’s median. The condominium median was $151,625, about 8.0% below last year’s level. Inventory in Orange has stayed in rough proportion to the rate of sales, indicating a balanced market with ample choices for prospective purchasers.
The sales data from these four counties indicate a region that has achieved a good level of sustainability in its real estate market. Sales volumes are strong. Notwithstanding field reports of bidding wars and other indicators of overheated markets, the fact from the data is there is ample choice at most price points and that price increases have been more or less in line with inflation. Also, the inventory situation, while different in each county, is not so difficult in any of them as to suppress the market or drive up prices.
Outside factors could spoil the market, but there is no immediate threat from any of them. For example, unemployment, which can discourage prospective purchasers from even thinking of buying a property, has steadily decreased in all four counties. In May, in Westchester, the unemployment rate was 4.6%; last year it was 5.0% and in 2013 it was 6.2%. The other counties have followed a similar pattern.
Steadiness with mortgage interest rates has also contributed to healthy sales activity, both in our region and across the country. The average rate on a 30-year conventional loan seems nailed to a plank at 4.0% and near vicinity. Action to increase the Federal Reserve rate later this year may – or may not – drive up mortgage rates as well. There is no necessary linkage between the two, but even should there be an increase, if it is small and carefully phased in, the real estate market in our area as it is today can handle it. Sustainability is what we have.
CHART: Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, 2nd Quarter Report
Karen Hunziker was 60 when her husband, Charles, secured a reverse mortgage on their Pollock Pines, Californina, home. At the time, Hunziker was advised by the mortgage broker to remove her name from the title to qualify for the loan. “We were both very concerned that I could be giving up my property rights, but the salesperson assured us I would be protected until 62 years old, when I would be put on the title,” said Hunziker.
However when she turned 62, Hunziker and her husband were informed by an attorney that the only way she could be on the title would be to refinance into a new reverse mortgage. She was subsequently told the couple would need to contribute $60,000 to get a new loan. “That was impossible because of the first reverse mortgage,” said Hunziker, who works as an artist craftswoman.
Although the couple had lived in the home for 19 years, Hunziker received aforeclosure warning letter from Financial Freedom ten days after her husband passed away in May 2014. That’s because Hunziker is a non-borrowing spouse.
HUD Changes the Rules
“Married couples were not informed that the consequence of taking the non-borrowing spouse off the loan could be that HUD [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] would allow the servicer to later foreclose on them,” said Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition. “We believe HUD allowing these foreclosures is both against the statute authorizing this program and contrary to how these loans are advertised as safe financial products to provide extra income while remaining in your home.”
Although it was legal for brokers to make the mortgage only to Charles Hunziker, it wasn’t accurate to say that his wife, Karen, could be added to the mortgage when she turned 62 or that she wouldn’t face foreclosure if the older spouse passed away.
“HUD knew that reverse mortgages were being originated to only one spouse yet still allowed foreclosures on the surviving spouses, which is why they got sued,” Stein said. “These foreclosures are contrary to how these products were marketed and to the statute authorizing these products.”
HUD was ordered by a federal judge to revise its policies to address this problem after AARP and the Mehri & Skalet law firm sued. It did so in in January, but even HUD’s new reverse mortgage policy won’t protect Hunziker. “After a borrowing spouse passes away, the reverse mortgage servicer could assign the loan to HUD however even if the servicer chose this option at their discretion, the surviving spouse would then need to make a large, lump-sum payment to meet the principal limit test, which is something that most surviving spouses are unable to do,” said Stein.
Another problem with the new HUD policy is its restrictions. “The policy is dependent on servicer discretion, so if the servicer doesn’t want to provide relief, they don’t have to,” Stein said.
According to NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers:
Additional data is available at http://www.nysar.com/industry-resources/market-data