Current Market Conditions Report for Sullivan County Real Estate Dec. 2015

 Period Sales Closed Average
Sales Price
Sales Price

Sullivan County Single Family Home Sales
Reported in the Sullivan & Hudson Gateway MLSs

 9/1/2014 – 11/30/2014
158 $177,816 $125,000
 9/1/2015 – 11/30/2015
229 $148,978 $120,000
 8/1/2015 – 10/31/2015
205 $148,658 $120,000
 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

— About Methodology

Sales data for the monthly Current Market Trends report is compiled from closed sales data reported in the two multiple listing services serving Sullivan County, the Sullivan County MLS and the Hudson Gateway MLS. Only single family home sales are included in the compiled data; condominiums, coops, mobile homes and ‘seasonal’ residences (not winterized for year round use) are excluded. Other news sources often report statistics based on a larger data set of “all residential sales”, which includes these other categories.

Many brokers participate in both the Sullivan County and Hudson Gateway  MLSs, with the result that the same listing is duplicated in both systems. When compiling the “solds” from both systems, I remove the duplicates.

Rather than reporting single month sales data, I use a rolling 3 month average. This is purely a statistical move, to ensure that there is a sufficient sample size. In a single month, there may only 40 or 50 sales, and one or two particularly large sales can wildly skew the average with such a small data set. By using a 3 month rolling average, I’m calculating averages based on 1120 to 150 sales, which reduces the impact of any large outlying sales and gives, in my opinion, a far more accurate picture of market trends.

“For sale by owner” properties not listed in one of the two MLSs are not included in the data set.

Current Listings
(Sullivan MLS)
Closed Sales
Sullivan & HGMLS
Sep -Nov 2015
Sullivan County Single Family Sales and Listings by Category
  Average Median Average Median
 All single family homes $236,100 $165,000 $148,978 $120,000
 Lakefront homes $553,884 $399,000 $377,794 $340,000
 Non-lakefront, 10+ acres $425,860 $299,000 $208,157 $205,000

Sullivan County Real Estate Market Conditions Report, December 2015 (with sales data through Nov. 2015)

The volume of single family residential sales has been surging the last couple of months. For the three month period ending Nov. 30th, there were 229 single family sales reported in Sullivan County in the two multiple listing systems covering this area. That’s up 45% from the same period a year earlier, and is the highest three month sales volume since I started collecting combined MLS data in 2010. The 82 closings in November alone was up 71% over the 48 closings in November 2014.

On the price front, the average sales price for the latest 3 month period, $148,978, was down 16.3% from the same period a year earlier, while the median of $120,000 was down just 4%. But both figures are well up from their year lows in April and May. Part of the price slide can be attributed to fewer sales at the upper end. In 2014, for the 3 month period ending Nov. 30th, there were 8 sales closed above $500,000, including 2 above $1 million. For the same period this year, there were 6 sales above $500,000, with none above $1 million. But there also appears to be a more widespread price slide, particularly in the mid range (above $250,000). While a property by property comparison is beyond the scope of what I do, quite a few properties have traded 5% to 10% below where I would have expected a year ago. That doesn’t hold across the board, though, with high demand and bidding wars at lower price points pushing up some categories of houses.

Another interesting data point is the average bid/ask ratio (the percentage of asking price that a house sells at). The 3 month period ending Nov. 30th, the bid/ask was 91.7%, the highest it’s been all year, and the third month in a row above 90%. 10% of sales were above asking price, while only 8% were below 80% of asking price. This tightening of the bid/ask margin is a function of two factors — strengthening demand and sellers pricing properties at more realistic levels.

Current Market

Typically the fall selling season dribbles off in mid November, and doesn’t pick up again until after the holidays. This year that hasn’t happened. I’ve had appointments every weekend through mid December, and have made three deals in the period between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. Also, this time of year, with fall sales closing, the ticker in the Sullivan MLS of “in contract” listings usually drops substantially. This year, however, the counter has been steady in the 150’s, indicating that houses are still going into contract.

One factor certainly has been the mid weather. But we’ve also had pretty good inventory at good prices this fall, with price reductions on some very appealing houses that have brought them into target range. In some categories, through the summer there was a gap between between buyers and sellers that was tough to bridge. A good example is mid range lakefront. A lot of buyers I worked with had a ceiling of about $350,000, while the houses they were interested in had a floor of $450,000. Over the past quarter, that gap narrowed, and a number of lake deals have been put together around $400,000. Since September, that’s seemed to have happened in a lot of categories, with weary buyers upping their budgets and sellers putting aside their hubris to make deals.

There are, though, some pretty defined “hot spot” ranges. Lakefront priced between $350,000 and $450,000 has been selling well, but above $500,000 is quite soft. There’s been good “farmhouse with acreage” action into the $400’s, but not much above that. Sullivan is very much a middle class, mid range value driven second home market. If you plotted a bell curve of second home demand, the center point would be about $250,000, with a very shallow trailing end above $500,000. There have been some really great properties on the market here this season around $600,000 that never got any buyer love.

Sellers and inventory

In early December, there were 972 single family homes listed for sale in the Sullivan MLS, 2.5% higher than the same time last year. The average asking price for the available inventory, $236,100, is also up slightly, 2.7%.

These numbers are a little surprising and troubling. Actual sales prices are down somewhat over a year ago, but it seems as though there are a lot of sellers that haven’t gotten the memo. This number is skewed up somewhat by the number of houses (72) on market above $500,000, a range with much slimmer sales. But given the robust demand through the fall, the ‘end of season’ inventory going into winter is either not that appealing or overpriced relative to the likely target buyer.

The winter inventory picture doesn’t look great. Contrary to what many people think, there is usually a pretty robust second home shopping season from mid January to mid March (if the weather cooperates, and we don’t have the bone chilling cold we had last year.) But inventory in some popular categories is very tight. For example, there are no Catskill Farms resales on the market right now. Likewise, there are almost no $250,000 range farmhouses or good lakefront choices under $400,000. A lot of houses I was expecting to be ‘layover’ inventory from the fall surprisingly moved in November and December.

Right now, most forecasts are pointing to a mild winter. I anticipate we’re going to have a busy winter shopping season with second home buyers looking to be into a house for summer. So this is a good time for sellers to put a house on market, and not wait until the more traditional spring listing period.