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The Sky Is Not Falling, Part 2: Further Analysis of the Westchester County Real Estate News Stories

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The Sky Is Not Falling, Part 2: Further Analysis of the Westchester County Real Estate News Stories

PR Newswire

STAMFORD, Conn., Aug. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In our recent rebuttal to the Westchester County real estate stories that have run in BloombergThe Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, we at William Pitt-Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty set out to correct the record on exactly how the market performed during the second quarter of 2018: unit sales declined by 5%, according to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service (HGMLS), not the 18% claimed in the articles. We encourage you to read our response to the news stories on our website, williampitt.com/blog.

William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty (PRNewsfoto/William Pitt-Julia B. Fee Sothe)

In the days since we posted this analysis, we have been asked to address another key piece of data mentioned in the stories: that the second quarter was the fourth consecutive quarter of year over year quarterly sales declines. Again, we have found in our own research that this assertion is overstated. According to the HGMLS, the first two quarters of this year saw declines of 2% and 5.3%, respectively—significantly lower than the decreases identified in the quarterly Elliman Report, which served as the source for the news articles and itself is sourced by the HGMLS. The fourth quarter of 2017 actually shows a small increase of 0.3%, and the third quarter of 2017 a slight decrease of 0.7%. Therefore, it is not true that there have been four consecutive quarters of declines, and where declines did occur, they were not nearly as steep as reported. The data does not seem to illustrate a year-long trend of falling sales. The Elliman Report supplied grossly inaccurate numbers, as you can see from the charts below illustrating the actual data as well as theirs.

Westchester County







Quarter vs Quarter/starting 1st Q, 2017 -  increase/(decrease) vs. prior yr. quarter









1st Q, '17

2nd Q, '17

3rd Q, '17

4th Q, '17

1st Q, '18

2nd Q, '18

Bloomberg, July 12 Reported Numbers

11.0%

19.0%

-5.0%

-4.0%

-7.0%

-18.0%

Actual HGMLS Reported Numbers

4.3%

1.3%

-0.7%

0.3%

-2.0%

-5.3%

Difference

6.7%

17.7%

-4.3%

-4.3%

-5.0%

-12.7%

We'd also like to bring in yet another data point to consider. The Bloomberg article from August 1 states that the $1.5 to $3 million price range in the Westchester housing market has been the hardest hit. We would argue this claim is not entirely accurate, and that more context is needed. It was actually the $1.5 to $2 million range—not $3 million—that struggled in the second quarter. We should not diminish the importance of this fact as this segment makes up a large chunk of the high end market, but as we look higher up the price ladder, we see that the upper end is holding its own. Sales from $2 to $3 million were ahead compared to the second quarter last year, and the upper end $3 million-plus market was only minimally off, as you can see in the charts below highlighting how different price ranges performed.

Westchester County





Analysis By Price Range In All Categories

2nd Quarter, 2018 vs 2017











Units

Units

Diff.

Diff. %

Price Range

2018

2017



$0 - $1.0 Mil

2,090

2,196

(106)

-4.8%

$1.0 - $1.5 Mil

233

236

(3)

-1.3%

$1.5 - $2.0 Mil

95

130

(35)

-26.9%

$2.0 - $2.5 Mil

48

44

4

9.1%

$2.5 - $3.0 Mil

31

28

3

10.7%

$3.0+ Mil

25

28

(3)

-10.7%

Total All Price Ranges

2,522

2,662

(140)

-5.3%






Source: HGMLS





Even more intriguing is that following the close of the second quarter, that challenged $1.5 to $2 million price range exhibited signs of recovery in the month of July. As shown in the July charts below, sales were close to flat for the month versus July last year, which was a major improvement from the second quarter. The $2 to $3 million and $3 million-plus ranges, meanwhile, both jumped ahead in July compared to the same time last year.

Westchester County





Analysis By Price Range In All Categories





July 1 thru July 31, 2018 vs 2017










Units

Units

Diff.

Diff. %

Price Range

2018

2017



$0 - $1.0 Mil

872

927

(55)

-5.9%

$1.0 - $1.5 Mil

119

100

19

19.0%

$1.5 - $2.0 Mil

44

45

(1)

-2.2%

$2.0 - $2.5 Mil

23

21

2

9.5%

$2.5 - $3.0 Mil

21

14

7

50.0%

$3.0+ Mil

13

12

1

8.3%

Total All Price Ranges

1,092

1,119

(27)

-2.4%






Source: HGMLS





The economic indicators we referenced in our original rebuttal—consumer confidence, interest rates, the stock market, unemployment, GDP—all still stand near historic highs or lows, which traditionally points to health in the real estate market. We believe these macro U.S. data points apply to our local housing markets just as they do nationally. As we have demonstrated, sales are pacing closer to last year than the media has reported.

In light of these ongoing stories from major media outlets supporting an exaggerated negative narrative on the Westchester real estate market, we will continue to closely monitor how the market is performing. Going forward, we will post a report on a monthly basis in our continuing effort to ensure consumers are armed with the facts when making real estate decisions.

I invite you to contact me if you have any questions.

Respectfully,
Paul Breunich
(203) 913-5730

 

About William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Founded in 1949, William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty manages a $4.2-billion portfolio with more than 1,000 sales associates in 27 brokerages spanning Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Westchester County, New York. William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty is one of the largest Sotheby's International Realty(R) affiliates globally and the 34th-largest real estate company by sales volume in the United States. For more information, visit the website at williampitt.com.

Sotheby's International Realty's worldwide network includes 950 offices throughout 70 countries and territories on six continents.

CONTACT

Paul Breunich
President and CEO
William Pitt - Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty
(203) 913-5730
pbreunich@williampitt.com

Andrew Wood
Vice President, Public Relations and Content
William Pitt - Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty
(203) 644-1938
awood@williampitt.com  

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SOURCE William Pitt-Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

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