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Rockland Real Estate Closings Jumped by 26% June-August

The third-quarter report is from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Inc.

From the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors:

Third quarter residential real estate closings soared by nearly 29% over last year’s counts in the four counties serviced by its subsidiary, Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service.

The percentage increase was the greatest in Westchester County, at 31%, followed by Rockland (26%), Orange (24%) and Putnam (22%). In most cases the increases among the various property classes brought the sales counts to pre-recession levels. In all of the counties except Rockland, sales of condominiums and cooperatives outpaced single family houses as a percentage increase over last year. 

Even with the slower – but still healthy – sales counts of the first six months of the year, on a year to date basis through this third quarter, 2013 is running faster than last year by rates ranging from 24% in Westchester and Orange to 17% in Putnam and 16% in Rockland. Whereas there were 11,481 total sales in all categories in all of 2012, at the current rate of activity the region may cross the 14,000 sale threshold by the end of 2013.  

The region is beginning to see modest price increases more often than not. Rockland County experienced the largest percentage price increase, 5.4%, in its single family median price, taking it to $410,000. Only Orange County failed to post an increase in house prices; in fact, the median sale price of $240,000 was 2.0% lower than last year.

The supporting framework for continued recovery in our region’s real estate market includes mortgage interest rates that have remained at relatively low levels. The average rate on a conventional 30-year mortgage was less than 4% during much of the period that generated the third quarter sales. Rates are now hovering around 4.6%-4.8%, still very attractive. Of course that could all change if the current political dysfunction in Washington causes a debt crisis. Actions of the Federal Reserve could also drive rates up, but for now the interest rates are stable and affordable.  

Also supporting the real estate market is the steady though painfully slow improvement in the rate of unemployment. All four counties in the MLS region have experienced a decline in the unemployment rate in the past year. The most recent rates available from the N.Y.S. Department of Labor are 5.8% for Putnam, 6.0% for Rockland, 6.3% for Westchester, and 7.3% for Orange – all at least one percentage point less than last year, and all lower than the national and state rates.  

The third quarter data largely reflect closings that followed upon listing and marketing activity in the spring and early summer months. There was, and remains, a great deal of pent up demand since the 2008 recession and its greatest impact on our local real estate market in 2010. It appears there is enough demand to continue to power the market going forward as long as there is no national self inflicted economic convulsion. 

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