January 2016 continued the same upward trend in sales volume we’ve seen for the past six months, with the number of single family home sales closed in the 3 month period ending Jan. 31, 2016 up 23% from the same period a year earlier. But there was some added good news in the latest data as well. For the first time in a year, the average sales price was higher than the same period a year before. The uptick wasn’t big, just about 1% year over year, but it broke the cycle of lower average sales prices. The median sales price didn’t fare as well, with a 4.8% year over year drop, but the median of $129,450 was still the highest we’ve seen since January 2015.
| 11/1/2014 – 1/31/2015
| 11/1/2015 – 1/31/2016
| 10/1/2015 – 12/31/2015
|2010 – Full Year||485||$160,589||$139,900|
|2011 – Full Year||472||$164,345||$138,000|
|2012 – Full Year||476||$150,939||$134,000|
|2013 – Full Year||569||$155,589||$124,000|
|2014 – Full Year||580||$165,298||$125,000|
|2015 – Full Year||699||$143,874||$117,500|
Contributing to the price recovery was stronger activity at the upper end. During the 3 month period ending Jan. 31. 2016, there were six sales closed above $500,000, including on sales above $1M. The same period a year earlier only had one sale above $1M, and none between $500,000 and $1M. (There are 2 more home with asks above $1M currently in contract, which should be closing soon.)
For the latest 3 month period, the average bid/ask ratio was 91.4%, up slightly from last month.
The very mild winter weather has been kind to the real estate market here, with quite a bit of buyer activity. With the exception of the blizzard weekend in NYC, I’ve had a few appointments every week well into February. If the weather cooperates, winter is often the second selling season here, with second home buyers looking to be into a house for summer, and that seems to be the case this year.
Last year, the harsh winter largely killed the second home shopping season. Investors, however, were out in full force, shopping for opportunities following the casino announcement in Dec. 2014. During the second quarter of 2015, roughly 20% of sales were bank owned foreclosures, and 25% of total sales were less than $50,000, driving second quarter prices through the floor. That scenario is unlikely to repeat this year. The available inventory of foreclosures is way down, with only about 40 listed for sale (that’s less than 5% of the total single family inventory.)
In the second home segment, I’m seeing less focus on the lower end and more interest in mid range properties, with the sweet spot right now between $250,000 and $300,000. Inventory constaints, though, are likely to temper sales in this range.
The wild card moving into spring will be consumer confidence in the wake of the stock market drop. When the stock market moves into correction territory, that can lead to consumer jitters. However, the impact on Sullivan could be more muted than in other, pricier parts of the Catskills and Hudson Valley. Second home buyers here tend to be younger, and gauge their economic comfort in terms of income rather than assets. Also, we’re less expensive than other areas, which could bolster our appeal among mid range buyers who may want to be a bit more frugal. The upper end of the market, which has shown some signs of recovery, may not fare as well. Upper end buyers tend to be older than low or mid range buyers, with assets more of a wealth barometer.
Sullivan & HGMLS
Nov 15-Jan 16
|All single family homes||$245,793||$164,500||$160,339||$129,450|
|Non-lakefront, 10+ acres||$455,518||$322,000||$318,875||$195,000|
Sellers and inventory
The number of single family homes listed for sale in the Sullivan MLS at the beginning of February, 867, is on par with February, 2015 (with 870 on market.) With demand up, there’s a bigger squeeze on that inventory. Usually in the winter we have a decent selection of ‘carryover’ inventory that didn’t sell in the fall. This year, that’s not the case. In moderate lakefront ($250-$400), for example, there was a surprising buying surge in Nov. and Dec. that swept up most of the available inventory, leaving very little to show buyers over the winter. Likewise, the cupboard of $250,000 range farmhouses and cottages is pretty bare.
The average asking price for single family homes listed in the Sullivan MLS at the beginning of February, $245,793, is up 6.4% from the same period a year earlier, while the median is down 3.2%.
While some sellers take their houses off the market for the winter, and others wait until spring to list, given the mild winter and ongoing buyer interest, this could be a good time to bring your property to or back to market.