New York Real Estate Spotlight

We’ve been east (DC, Orlando), and we’ve been west (Phoenix, Denver). Today, we’re in an Empire State of mind and shining our real estate spotlight on the New York housing market.

I chose New York, because I like to take a closer look at real estate markets that are bucking national trends or, at the very least, leading the way for recovery. In our latest recap, I pointed out that inventory of homes for sale is down, way down. Inventory usually perks up at the start of the spring-selling season, but this year’s economy has trapped the market in winter for longer than usual.

 

A Very Cold and Very Long Winter

data from ZipRealty

Above is a sampling of metros we have data for (take note that the New York data includes New York City as well as the southern part of the Hudson Valley). Housing inventory has seen some steep declines when you compare last February with this February. New York is the only metro that delivered positive inventory numbers, which is why we’re taking a closer look at it today.

On a national scale, inventory of homes for sale went up in February, the first inventory increase in nine months. (Developments) The needle barely moved – up just .5 percent – and inventory levels are 22 percent down from the previous year.

 

But What Does Inventory Really Mean?

Low inventories might mean that a backlog of unsold homes are finally being sold, and as they leave the market, their low prices do, too (a lot of the backlog is made up of foreclosures). Then prices can start heating up, and recovery can really get going.

Then again, it’s hard to say if low inventory is a prerequisite to market health: “If homeowners are giving up on selling their homes because of low prices, or if inventories are declining because banks are still facing complications trying to process foreclosures, the declines could be artificial.” (Developments)

 

More “For Sale” Signs Up in New York

New York is faring well in terms of inventory. Our data has the Westchester area seeing 2.6 percent more homes for sale on the market in February 2012 than the previous year. January 2012 was this year’s trough with 19,511 homes for sale, according to data from Realtor.com. This February, New York is posting 19,993 homes for sale. Not a huge increase, but you can see in the chart below that while this past fall and winter mirrored the previous year’s closely, inventory has recently begun to improve and post higher numbers.

data from ZipRealty

Last spring, inventory mirrored the previous year; then, after increasing throughout the summer, it fell below the previous year’s rate and finally returned to mirroring 2010. It will be interesting to see if this spring, inventory will begin to pull away from 2011, or continue to mirror it closely.

In any case, we’re glad the sellers are popping up and beginning to put their homes on the market. If you’ve been searching online and saving homes, now is a great time to start checking them out as open house season is underway. Plus, if you visit a home with an agent from our website, you’ll be entered into our Drop in and Win spring sweepstakes. So awesome, right?

Stay tuned for more spring market trends and real estate advice!