Strong Housing Sales, Higher Values Reported In Putnam
Rising home prices and stronger sales are usually a good sign of a recovering economy, and the first quarter of 2014 has been very strong, even better than the region’s surge in real estate sales since early 2013. Residential closings increased 10.8% over the same period last year, and compared to the recessionary performance of 2009, the 2014 volume was 61.3% higher. Westchester, which accounts for about 60% of the region’s real estate sales, led the way with a powerful 19.4% sales increase in its single family house sector, and 21.0% in its cooperative unit sector. Westchester condominium sales did not follow suit, however, declining by 15.2% from last year.
The next highest year to year increases in residential sales were posted by Putnam (11.9%), Rockland (7.7%) and Orange (4.2%). In all three counties the sales gains were largely in the single family house sector. The robust sales levels kept the pressure on to maintain the region’s inventory which, at 10,014 listed properties at the end of the quarter, was 3.9% lower than last year at this time. In the single family house sector, Orange posted the largest decrease (6.3%), followed by Westchester (3.2%), Putnam (2.6%), and Rockland (0.7%).
High sales and falling inventories mean higher home prices. The first quarter median sale price of a single family house in Westchester was $600,000, an increase of $85,000 or 16.5% over last year’s median. In Putnam the increase was 11.0%, taking the median price to $318,000. An addition of more high-end properties augmented this trend still further, pushing median prices ever higher. Mortgage interest rates are still very affordable at around 4.5% for a thirty year conventional loan.
Unemployment throughout the region is down by one to two percentage points from a year ago. All of this means good news for Putnam’s economy, and by extension, its business community.
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce