First there was the bubble, then there was the crash, and now it looks as if the housing market is finally leveling out. One sign of the recovering market is the recent resurgence of quick home sales and competitive bidding in the Lower Hudson Valley, frequently above asking price.
In White Plains, a well-priced home sold on the first day it was listed; in Scarsdale, a half dozen homes recently on the market all sold above their initial asking price. What’s going on? Freelancer Christine Gritmon asked local realtors for their reaction for a story in Living Here:
“I certainly have seen lots of competitive bidding — but we’ve had it on certain properties even during the worst of the downturn, before things even started turning around,” says Katie Becker McLoughlin of Houlihan Lawrence, (shown here) who covers the southern Sound Shore area of Westchester. “Currently it is enormous — there is a real fire from the buyers right now. We haven’t seen anything like this in a long time.”
“If a property is priced for real value and it’s beautiful, we’ve seen bidding across the board: from rentals, to small co-ops and waterfront properties,” adds Becker McLoughlin.
Read Barbara Nackman’s report here on the most recent sales figures, inventory and more
“I’ve definitely seen an uptick in buyer activity,” agrees Nancy Blaker Weber of Wright Brothers in Nyack. “I’ve experienced, both as a selling agent and as a listing agent, multiple instances of multiple offers.”
Blaker Weber has especially seen an increase in buyers and multiple offers in the range between $400,000 and $650,000, with the bulk of such sales occurring in the Nyacks. As to what makes a house “desirable,” a lot of her recent customers have preferred newly renovated homes so they can move right in, although she says there is also a healthy market for fixer-uppers in other price ranges.
“The market’s definitely picking up and there are bidding wars going on,” affirms Barbara Plunkett of Prudential Douglas Elliman in Northern Westchester. “This is happening in all price ranges — if they’re priced appropriately, they’re moving. I’d say in the last two months we’ve seen this uptick in interest. People are out and about so I think it’s a good thing!”
“Some people are looking who had looked in previous years and they’re looking again; maybe they didn’t find what they were looking for last year. I think the reality is a lot of people realize that if they didn’t move last year and they find something they want this year, they’d better move on it,” adds Plunkett. “Interest rates are at such a wonderful low and I think the buyers are beginning to say, ‘I think the bottom has been reached and I’d better move!’”
“I think that there’s a renewed confidence in the marketplace,” suggests Becker McLoughlin. “I’m not an economist but I think people are more comfortable investing money in brick and mortar than in stock. Interest rates are still low. People are only going to wait so long.”
Blaker Weber has also seen a swell of buyer confidence. “I’ve noticed that buyers are decisive; they’re ready to go, and there’s a lot of them — and while I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘seller’s market’ or a ‘buyer’s market,’ it’s a market that’s coming into its own, and I think we’re all going to experience a very strong spring.”
Before you jump in
There are some factors that sellers should take into account in order to ride this wave. “The asking price has got to be correct. If you’re priced to market, the market will recognize it,” says Becker McLoughlin. “If the price is ambitious, you may not get asking, even if you’ve got 3 or 4 bids. The markets are very efficient. The market tells you if there is demand for a property — you know by the reaction that you get. The market tends to find its own level.”
Buyers have to be careful, too, to ensure that perfect home doesn’t pass them by. “It’s very important that people that are in the market get prequalified and preapproved if they possibly can before they even start their search,” recommends Plunkett. “There’s more houses coming on the market and those that are coming on the market are moving rapidly in all price ranges.”