Being in real estate, the number one question I usually get asked is, "so how's the market?"
My response is typically, "depends who's asking."
In other words, if you're a buyer, the market might seem pretty good; rates are at historical lows, prices have come down significantly from the peak of 2006, and there are a fair amount of homes on the market. (Around 1,333 to be exact.)
If you're a seller, and you purchased your home sometime between 2003 and 2008, the market might not seem that great. The value of your house has most likely dropped, possible short sale properties are putting downward pressure on prices, and it may take an extended period of time to sell.
There are exceptions, of course—but overall it is definitely a buyer's market. And if you're a buyer with nothing to sell, there are certainly some interesting opportunities out there.
I looked at the Rockland real estate numbers for the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011. The data shows the market is somewhat mixed, but despite many categories showing negative signs, there are a few things to be hopeful about.
For one, the number of homes sold is up almost six-percent. And what I found to be very promising is that the number of short sales is up and the number of foreclosed home sales is down.
In the first half of last year, out of the 447 homes that sold, 47 of those homes were either bank-owned or corporate-owned. (Or, in other words, foreclosed properties).
In the first half of 2012, out of the 525 sold homes, only 23 of those homes were foreclosed properties. That's a 51-percent drop in foreclosed property sales. This data does not include properties sold at auction, or private sales, etc., but it does say there are fewer foreclosed properties selling in our multiple listing system.
The flip side to this may seem like a negative, but I see it as a positive: the number of short sales has increased by 72-percent. Why do I see that as a positive? The silver lining is that more homeowners that might be "underwater" on their mortgages are being allowed to sell their homes short as opposed to getting foreclosed.
It's not clear whether more of the banks are doing this due to organization and intelligence, or if it's because they lack the proper authority to foreclose on these homes. Either way, the fact that banks seem to be approving more short sales as opposed to going through the agonizing ordeal of a foreclosure—in my opinion—is good news. In fact, out of the 1,333 active listings on the market right now, 124 of these homes are possible short sales.
More encouraging news is the fact that the number of properties under contract is up 35-percent from this time last year. Incidentally, 22-percent of those homes (94 out of 419) are possible short sales. And of these 419 homes that are under contract, only three of them are foreclosed properties.
Homes being sold short are typically occupied and maintained, where as foreclosed homes may end up abandoned or neglected. When you think that many of these homes could have ended up being foreclosures, then maybe all this short sale activity is actually a good thing.
Looking deeper into the stats, I also noticed that the market activity varies along the different price points. Take a look at the table below:
2012 2011Sale Price
Sold homes Sale Price Sold homes Above $1,000,000 14 Above $1,000,000 9 $900,000-$1,000,000 3 $900,000-$1,000,000 5 $800,000-$900,000 7 $800,000-$900,000 8 $700,000-$800,000 10 $700,000-$800,000 17 $600,000-$700,000 21 $600,000-$700,000 25 $500,000-$600,000 44 $500,000-$600,000 61 $400,000-$500,000 121 $400,000-$500,000 109 $300,000-$400,000 167 $300,000-$400,000 145 $200,000-$300,000 87 $200,000-$300,000 77 Below $200,000 42 Below $200,000 39
Notice that the high-end above $1,000,000 is actually up 55-percent from nine homes to 14 homes sold. However, the upper-middle range from $500,000-$1,000,000 is decreased 27-percent from 116 homes down to 85 homes sold.
The price range where most of the activity has been happening is below $500,000. That price range experienced a 13-percent rise from 370 homes sold in 2011 to 417 homes sold in 2012.
So what does this tell us? That it's better to be in the high-end, or the middle to lower price range if you're selling your home.
Here is a summary:
Rockland County Single Family Homes:
* The number of homes sold is up 5.6% from 497 in 2011 to 525 in 2012
* Average selling price is down 5% from $441,145 down to $420,236
* Median selling price is down 3% from $385,000 to $375,000
* Number of homes sold that were bank owned is down 51% from 47 to 23
* Number of homes sold that were short sales is up 72% from 29 to 50
* Average days on the market is up 16% from 103 days to 119 days
* Number of available listings is down 8% from 1,422 homes to 1,333 homes
* Number of homes Under Contract is up 35% from 311 up to 419 homes.
* Number of condos sold is up 11% from 169 units to 187 units.
* Average selling prce for condos is down 3% from $230,950 to $224,170
* Median selling price is down 10% from $221,250 to $200,000
* Number of condos Under Contract is up 9% from 105 units to 114 units
* Number of available listings is down 19% from 562 units down to 455
* Average days on the market is down 14% from 123 days to 106 days
* Condos sold that were short sales is up from 5 units to 23 units.
Just to put this increased activity into perspective, here is how sales activity looked in the first half of the past 10 years:
2012 - homes sold = 525
2011 - homes sold = 497
2011 - homes sold = 598
2010 - homes sold = 426
2009 - homes sold = 498
2008 - homes sold = 728
2007 - homes sold = 749
2006 - homes sold = 758
2005 - homes sold = 890
2004 - homes sold = 816
2003 - homes sold = 890
2002 - homes sold = 840
Overall, I would say the fact activity is up almost six-percent from last year—and that the number of properties under contract has increased 35-percent from last year—means the market seems to be holding steady, if not beginning to recover. Despite the bleak job market and scary unemployment numbers, it is comforting to know that there is still some healthy activity in the real estate market, and that home values are not plummeting. Hopefully this means that the market has stabilized.
Browse the adjacent photo gallery for some new listings and recent sales.
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