Through the first three months of 2014, Putnam County saw a promising rise of nearly 12% in residential home sales leading to increased speculation of a strong economic recovery, but a fairly strong second quarter tail-off throughout the Hudson Valley put a bit of a damper on such rosy expectations. Still, given that 2Q-1Q sales were off just 2.9 percent in Putnam and that the difficult winter weather may have had an impact (home sales usually have about a 90 day lead time in our region), it’s conceivable that our County may have fared rather well in comparison to others in the region which endured a fairly steep drop in the second quarter. Interestingly, our neighbor Rockland County was the only one to show an increase (6.2%) in this period.
Putnam’s median home price fell to $285,000, an 8.2% decrease which was a bit of a surprise, and home inventories throughout the Hudson Valley rose by about 8.8% overall. These events are not considered to be severe, an there is no particularly strong reason for the downturn except for the influence the severe weather we had in the winter months leading to the statistics of the second quarter. Mortgage rates remain low, and Putnam County’s unemployment rate is, at 4.7%, the lowest in the region. So people should be able to afford a house, yet the results clearly showed that the market was somewhat soft. My thoughts? The market is still on the path to recovery. I equate to walking up a hill made of sand. Sometimes you feel like you are making no traction, even losing ground, yet all the while progress is being made.
On the other hand, if you’re buying a house, take heart. Home prices and interest rates are still low, and you probably have a job to support paying a mortgage. The stigma of loans being difficult to acquire is becoming an exaggeration. Also lenders have put some realistic loans back on the table such as 1 year income verification for those of us that are self employed. You can even cash in on this hot rental market with a mere 10% down Speaking of rentals, that market continues to climb which is opportunity for those looking to invest.
The Putnam Chamber will continue its quest to enhance the business climate and work alongside the EDC and the County to beautify our Commerce districts to ensure a vital Real estate market here in Putnam County
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce