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Get Ready for Another Sizzling Summer Real Estate Market in Westchester

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May 29, 2024

By Sue Treiman–

Local realtors expect Westchester to remain a red-hot real estate market during the warmest months of 2024, but the sizzling temperature may be slightly dissipating.

An April uptick in the number of new homes offered for sale suggests a better balance between the tight supply of listed properties and a sky-hot buyer demand may be coming. Still, prices are likely to remain high and buyer competition fierce.

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The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR) revealed that the median home in Westchester County fetched roughly $870,000 during the first quarter of 2024, a hike of more than 16 per from the previous year’s $750,000 median price. April, though, saw the number of properties for sale climb by 11 percent, suggesting that some loosening in the tight sellers’ market.

“Spring and summer are traditionally the busiest time of year for home sales as people try to move in before school starts, so I believe we’ll see more houses coming on the market and prices continuing to rise,” says Vlora Sejdi, the incoming president of the Whites Plains-based HGAR. Sejdi assumes leadership of the 14,000-member organization in 2025.

Soaring property values rank Westchester among the 10 most expensive places to live in America. Condominium prices and apartment rentals are also climbing, while cooperative apartments are posting more moderate hikes.

“There’s strong demand for the Westchester and for the Rivertowns across the board, and it’s creating a market that rivals the one we saw during Covid, when everyone was so eager to leave the city,” says Coldwell Banker’s Bill Ford-Sussman, a 35-year rivertowns real estate professional and Dobbs Ferry native.

The sizzling sellers’ market is complicated, in part, by a growing population of older homeowners who remain in their houses after their children leave.

“A number of people are trapped by ‘golden handcuffs,“ says Sejdi, “and many of them want to downsize but, because of a combination of high interest rates and increasing prices, they find it tough to replace their existing home with a less expensive place.”

HGAR noted a 20 percent decline in available homes during the first few months of 2024 and a nine percent dip in overall home sales. Spring and summer normally alter the sell-to-buy ratio, but even with more properties to choose from, a current 30-year fixed mortgage rate that exceeds seven percent is driving overall costs higher—well beyond the January 2021 low of 2.65 percent.

“According to every mortgage broker I’ve spoken to, the low rates of around three per cent are probably gone forever,” adds Sejdi.

So many people are seeking a local address, in fact, that some buyers are willing to do whatever it takes to stake a local claim. “Lately, we’ve had 15 to 20 people a coming to our showings in the first weekend,” says Ford-Sussman, “and offers now come extremely quickly, with some homes going from initial listing to contract in about two weeks.”

The majority of aspiring homeowners arrive armed with a pre-approved mortgage. Many are also willing to offer large amounts of cash, make an on-the-spot bid, and go well beyond the asking price. In March, the online marketplace Zillow found that 44 percent of accepted offers were higher than the listed figure.

While much of the New York City metropolitan area is a super-charged real estate market, Westchester in general and the rivertowns in particular are exceptionally popular. Buyers lured by the area’s ‘hip’ reputation, an easy commute to the city, proximity to the Hudson and a small-town feel and walkability, and citing concerns about escalating urban crime (which may not be borne out by statistics) are more motivated than ever.

Anecdotally, local realtors report that some aspiring homeowners write pleading letters to sellers, others knock on doors hoping to initiate a face-to-face conversation. Still others drive the streets looking for early signs that a property is being prepared for sale. The escalating competition can spur tough “bidding wars,” a term many realtors detest. “With multiple offers coming in for any property there can be only one winner, and that creates lots of disappointment,” says Sejdi.

The tight market has also sent Westchester County’s “affordability index” –what it takes financially to survive in an area – plummeting by approximately 15 percent in the last year, potentially threatening diversity.

Despite that, Sejdi reassures motivated home-seekers that patience and persistence usually do pay off. “It’s almost like you have to be 100 percent devoted to your home search or have an agent 100 percent devoted to it, but if you balance that commitment with realistic expectations there are homes and there is hope,” she says.

The HGAR releases its 2024 second half figures in July.

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