Low Inventory and Economic Challenges Impact Rockland County’s Real Estate Market in 2023

The residential real estate market in Rockland County, along with several neighboring counties in the New York metropolitan area, faced a challenging year in 2023 due to a variety of economic factors, according to the recently released Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2023 Residential Real Estate Sales Report by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR).

A combination of high interest rates, inflation, limited for-sale inventory, international conflicts, and domestic political discord weighed heavily on the housing market. However, there are early signs of improvement in 2024 as the Federal Reserve Board appears to be scaling back its interest rate hikes, potentially leading to increased affordability and renewed buyer interest.

Despite the difficulties faced in 2023, Rockland County and its neighboring counties experienced a rise in home prices due to strong demand and a shortage of available homes. Data for the HGAR report was provided by OneKey MLS, a subsidiary of the association.

Rockland County Home Sales Decline While Prices Rise

In Rockland County, home sales saw a significant decline, with a 25.7% drop for the entire year of 2023 and a 20.2% decrease in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year.

Similarly, Westchester County reported a 23.7% decrease in total home sales for 2023 and a 15.3% drop in the fourth quarter. Putnam County also faced a decline, with a 26.1% decrease in total home sales for the year and a 16.8% drop in the fourth quarter. Orange County saw a 25.5% reduction in home sales for the full year and a 25% decrease in the fourth quarter.

Sullivan County recorded a 25.8% decrease in total home sales for 2023 and an 18.4% decline in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Bronx experienced the smallest decline in sales among HGAR markets, with a 19.8% drop for the year and a 12.2% decrease in the fourth quarter.

Rising Home Prices in Suburban Markets

Despite the decrease in sales, the HGAR report highlighted that the median sale price of single-family homes increased or remained steady in all six counties for the full year of 2023.

In Rockland County, the median sale price of single-family homes rose by 3.6% to reach $660,000 for the entire year, while the fourth quarter saw an 8.8% increase, bringing the median to $680,000.

Westchester County reported a 4.3% increase in the median single-family home sale price for 2023, reaching $850,000, with an 11.8% jump in the fourth quarter to $840,000. Putnam County saw a slight 1% decrease in the median sale price for 2023, settling at $485,000, but the fourth quarter saw an 8.3% increase to $520,000.

Orange County’s median single-family home sale price increased by 6.3% for the year and 6.2% in the fourth quarter, reaching $425,000 and $430,000, respectively. Sullivan County experienced a 5.7% rise in the median single-family home sale price for the full year, reaching $280,000, with a strong finish in the fourth quarter, where it increased by 13.5% to $295,000. The Bronx posted a 2.7% decline in its median single-family home price for 2023, settling at $605,000, but recorded a 2.5% increase in the fourth quarter, reaching $630,500.

Continued Low Inventory Challenges

Entering 2023, the region faced a persistently low inventory of available homes. Homeowners, who had previously locked in historically low interest rates ranging from 3% to 4%, were reluctant to put their homes on the market and face potentially higher financing rates.

For the full year, all markets experienced significant inventory shortfalls. Rockland County’s for-sale inventory remained relatively flat, with a slight 0.8% decrease, leaving 356 properties available for sale at the end of 2023.

Westchester County witnessed a substantial 24.3% decrease in residential properties available for sale, with 1,044 properties on the market at the end of the year. In comparison, there were 2,344 properties for sale at the end of 2020. Putnam County reported a dramatic 31.4% drop in inventory, leaving only 140 properties available for sale by the end of 2023.

Orange County recorded a 9.8% decrease in inventory, resulting in 691 available properties. Sullivan County’s inventory remained stable, with only a 0.3% decrease compared to the previous year, leaving 329 properties available at the end of 2023. Finally, the Bronx saw a 17.6% decrease in inventory throughout 2023, ending the year with 951 properties available for sale.

HGAR President Carmen Bauman acknowledged the challenges faced in the residential sales market in 2023, attributing the negative change in sales to nationwide inventory shortages and high interest rates. However, there is hope for improvement in 2024 as the real estate market navigates these challenges.

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