Local brokers 'optimistic' as home sales increase

Home sales are up year over year in

Home sales are up year over year in the Hudson Valley (Credit: iStock)

A week after Hurricane Sandy swept through the region, Rockland County-based broker Vanessa Saunders listed a house in Piermont, one of the most devastated communities.

It sold in 24 hours.

The buyers weren't dissuaded by the waterfront community's vulnerability, nor did they balk at the collapsed seawall on the property.

"They were waiting for a house to come on the market [in Piermont]," said Saunders, principal broker and chief executive officer of GPS Real Estate.

As a new Census Bureau report revealed surprisingly strong home sales numbers nationwide in November, real estate agents in the Hudson Valley said it's a sellers' market, with buyers eager to close deals while conditions -- low prices and low interest rates -- are favorable.

"One of the things we're seeing is there are many, many buyers out there," said Matt Rand, managing partner at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Real Estate. Rand's company sells homes in Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties.

"With interest rates ridiculously low and prices lower than they have been in a long time, the buyers are there," Rand said. "The problem is, buyers can't find what they're looking for."

There were more home sales in November than at any other time since April of 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Sales jumped 4.4 percent from October and 15 percent from earlier in 2012.

Homes sold for an average of $299,700 nationally, the data show.

Regional figures weren't immediately available. Richard Haggerty, chief executive officer of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, said his organization is currently compiling data from 2012, which will become available in the first week of January.

Thursday's report also noted inventory is limited. The holiday season is traditionally quiet for home sales, as potential sellers and buyers put their plans on hold during the busy months.

But traffic to realty sites is up from previous holiday seasons, and potential buyers are making more inquiries, Rand said. Home shoppers are particularly interested in upscale northern Westchester County communities like Briarcliff, Yorktown and Somers, which makes sellers "very optimistic," Rand said.

Local brokers said they anticipate more houses coming on the market in late winter and spring, including new sales and homes that temporarily were taken off the market for the holidays.

"People desperately trying to buy when the interest rates and prices are low," Saunders said. "It's a really good time to be a seller right now."

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