White Plains real estate defied gravity for three years. For a while – quite a while – it looked as if the housing recession would pass White Plains by with nary a flicker in the prices. The stock market crash on Wall Street shook the system up and prices have started to come down. Even before the crash, single family homes had started to decline in price. But Coop and condo sales remained stubbornly high. The only major sign of trouble was decreased sales volume, but as long as inventories remained low – with few people selling – higher prices were still tolerated.
The average price of cooperatives fell 10.9% over the previous year with an average price of $220,000. The fall in prices reflects a general weakness in sales volume combined with increased inventory. There are currently 134 units on the market sales volume at the end of the end of the first quarter of 20 units or about 7 units a month creating an overhanging inventory of 19 months.
Although sales prices remained stable when compared with the first quarter of 2008, tremendous weakness in the condo market is apparent. First, we have to recall the 17.3% drop in prices during the previous quarter. Second, the inventory is sky-high. An average of 5 units were sold each month during the first quarter and with 134 units on the market – the overhanging inventory is a whopping 26.8 months. Sales volume is down over 63% from the previous year.
The stable prices in condos and coops belie an underlying weakness. The inventories suggest that prices are falling and that these two markets are in retreat. Buyers have the upper hand – no doubt about it.
Single family homes showed a 16.9% decrease in price over the previous year. This decline was by no means an even one. Some desirable areas did not see anything close to that type of decrease. In some ways single family homes are on their way back. Sales volume is similar to the previous year and there is 10 months of inventory – buyers market territory, but nothing like the build up in the condo and coop market.
In general, single family homes are offering the best value right now. The decrease is real, but by no means even. Areas such of the Highlands have held up very well. High end areas have taken a hit. This may reflect the trend towards more modest homes. This is partially due to the Wall Street melt-down and partly a function of how hard jumbo loans are to come by. Buyers have more negotiating room than in the past, but if you are in the market to buy, I would advise against trying to “steal a house.” if its a house you really want, you will have to step up and make a real offer. Sellers need to price homes to sell, not sit and do the necessary repairs and staging to make the home stand out.
Seller’s need to price their units and homes to SELL and be prepared to stage their homes. With so much to choose from buyers can afford to be picky – and they are. I’ve had many a buyer walk away for very trivial reasons like wallpaper they didn’t want to deal with. So if you are selling in this market, don’t be surprised if your agent asks a great deal from you. In this type of market – the properties that sell are the ones where the seller and their listing agent work hard together to get the job done. Prepping the home will involve dealing with deferred maintenance and perhaps staging and painting. Many sellers resist painting their interiors in part because it can be costly and it can also be a pain. But for those homes that need a good paint job or have vivid color or lots of floral wallpaper, the $500-$1000 and time can save thousands later and MONTHS of frustration on the market. Please note that all the marketing in the world is not going to move a property that people are uncomfortable in. Buyers want to have that warm fuzzy feeling that says “this is home” before they make offers. Think “Pottery Barn” rather than edgy or floral or anything too unique. For example, I have a Tudor home and parts of it are very – well Tudor. If I were to sell, I would need to tone that down through staging and painting and changing out some light fixtures. That’s the price I pay for being in a unique space. Bottom line: move-in-ready and soft neutral palates sell.
Just as sellers need to be reasonable – so do buyers. This is a buyer’s market – not a fire sale. Most sellers aren’t desperate. Most will look at “fair” offers – but will blow off ridiculous low-balls. Be particularly aware of low-balls if you have found the home you truly want. A serious low-ball may offend the seller. Once offended, a seller may not consider other offers by that buyer. So be careful not to lock yourself out of a deal you might really want. Be aware of the comps and use comps that make sense. Then, if you like a unit or house and make an offer that makes sense.
© 2009 Ruthmarie Garcia Hicks. https://thewestchesterview .com All rights reserved.
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