The Rockland County housing market simply exploded in the first quarter of 2017, with a surge in sales and prices that drove the market to levels we have not seen since the height of the last seller’s market.
Sales. Single-family home sales spiked in the first quarter, rising almost 24% from last year, marking the ninth time out of the last 10 quarters with sales increasing from the prior year quarter. Indeed, the 2,132 sales over the past rolling year marked the highest 12-month total since the third quarter of 2004, and represented a 95% increase off the bottom of the market in 2011.
Prices. These sustained increases in buyer demand are starting to have a dramatic impact on pricing. Home prices were up for the quarter across the board, rising almost 5% on average, almost 7% at the median, and over 6% in the price-per-square foot. And we are seeing meaningful and sustainable price appreciation over the longer term, with the rolling year pricing up between 2% and 3% across the board.
Inventory. The story in Rockland County continues to be declining inventory. The months of inventory on the market declined again in the first quarter, dropping over 27% and now down to 4.8 months. Anything shorter than six months is considered a “tight” market, and Rockland is now well below that line.
Negotiability. Single-family homes again sold more quickly and for closer to the asking price in the first quarter, which is generally a sign that sellers are gaining negotiating leverage with buyers.
Condos. For the first time in years, we started to see some dramatic changes in the condo market. Sales simply surged, rising almost 39% from the first quarter of last year and now up almost 26% for the rolling year. And although pricing has been down the last several years, the combination of rising demand and falling inventory caused prices to spike across the board: up almost 13% on average, 12% at the median, and 2% in the price-per-square foot. With inventory down 40% and now below six months, we believe that this market will stay hot through 2017.
Going forward, we expect that Rockland will continue to sizzle through the traditionally robust Spring market. With prices still at attractive 2004 levels, interest rates near historic lows, inventory falling, and the economy generally strengthening, we believe that sustained buyer demand will continue to drive meaningful price appreciation through the rest of 2017.