By Holly Dutton
The future is looking bright for the suburban luxury house market – and green too.
A National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey found that future homes will be smaller and greener, and according to a Westchester Realtor, the market is on the upturn.
“There’s a lot more liquidity in the luxury home market,” said Angela Kessel, a Realtor with Westchester real estate firm, Houlihan Lawrence.
“We’ve seen quite a bit of activity in the $2 to $3 million price range that seems to be coming back. Above $5 million, things get much more spotty; we haven’t had a sale above $5 million in Bedford this year.”
While New York city’s suburbs are experiencing relative stability in sales, reports confirm sales in the $3 million and up range are down. Data from Miller Samuel and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Greater Fairfield County CMLS and Empire Access MLS all show significant drops in the luxury market.
From January to mid-June, sales over $3 million were down 3.8 percent in Long Island and 9.4 percent in Westchester County.
In Fairfield County, there was a 40 percent drop in the market. A recent Greenwich Time report said there were at least two dozen abandoned mansions in Greenwich.
With a still-shaky economy and job market, buyers are playing it safe, said. Kessel.
“I think the market will come back and we will see sales in the next six months,” she said. “We’ve got some amazing, incredible properties on the market in the upper ends of the bracket and I think people with the means will buy.”
The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors released its 2012 second quarter real estate sales report in July, which showed sales volume picking up in the Westchester and Putnam county residential real estate market.
In Westchester County, sales were up 13% since the same time last year, and 23.8% in Putnam County from last year.
Record-low interest rates have dropped below 4 percent. However, the report states, there are also much tighter lending requirements. The report summarizes that very strong market activity is due to what Realtors believe is “release of pent-up demand.”
The median sale price of a Westchester single family home was $619,000, a slight decrease of 0.6% from last year. Median sale price for co-ops was $156,250, down by 0.6% as well, and the condo median of $338,000 was down by 3% from last year. “We are coming out of a tough market but we are going to bounce back,” Kessel said.
Increased showings, liquidity, and generally more inquiries are signs she has seen that point to an upturn.
“We feel like home prices have bottomed out now and we expect them to rise gently and slowly in the next couple of years,” she said.
Foreclosures, as far as Kessel has seen, are few in northern Westchester. There have been none so far this year that she’s seen, but one last year she sold went for $5.6 million.
Meanwhile, the NAHB survey “The New Home in 2015,” was compiled through responses from home builders, designers, architects, manufacturers and marketing specialists on their predictions of what a single-family home will look like in the future.
Highlights of the findings include the home being smaller, with more green features, including low-e windows, engineered wood products and water efficient features like low-flow faucets.
The survey also found that industry professionals predict the kitchen, along with the family room and living room will be combined to form a “Great Room.”
Seventy-four percent of respondents said single-family homes will get smaller, at an average of 2,152 s/f. Only one percent of respondents said average home square footage will be 3,000 to 4,999 s/f.
A 2012 second quarter report from Prudential Douglas Elliman on Westchester and Putnam Counties showed stability in the market, with median home sale price at $459,000, nearly unchanged from last year’s number of $457,500 in the same quarter.
Price per square foot showed a 2.6 percent increase to $279 psf from the same time last year. Total sales were 1,815 in the second quarter, a 14.7 percent increase from the prior year. This marked the second highest second quarter total in five years. Listing inventory fell 11.7 percent from 7,998 to 7,064.
Average number of days on the market, from original listing date to contract date, rose to 197, 8 days longer than the previous year.
In the Long Island market, the same stable pattern followed, with median home sale prices at $350,000, unchanged from the same period in the previous year. Average sales price declined 2.9 percent from last year while inventory fell 13.2 percent to a 7-year second quarter low of 19,769.