Westchester Home Prices Pushed to Record High By Bidding Wars

(Bloomberg) — Home prices in Westchester County surged to a record in the third quarter as bidders from New York City battled for a chance to buy a suburban retreat.

The median price of single-family homes that changed hands in the quarter jumped 16% from a year earlier to $808,500, the highest in data going back to 1986, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.



chart, histogram: Sellers Winning in Westchester


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Sellers Winning in Westchester

Open houses have drawn crowds, and multiple offers on the same day, largely from city-dwellers seeking space for a prolonged period of working from home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Their purchases nearly cleared the market of listings, which tumbled 30% from a year earlier.

“We’re all preparing for what could be a second wave of spiking cases,” Douglas Elliman President Scott Durkin said in an interview. “Everyone is positioning themselves to have options.”

A recent open house in New Rochelle had 21 potential buyers lined up outside, and drew as many as six offers, according to Durkin. The demand is largely coming from Manhattan and Brooklyn residents who are maintaining their apartments in the city, but seeking a “primary second home” for extra space.

Video: Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff on new real-estate company Pacaso (CNBC)

Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff on new real-estate company Pacaso

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The average size of homes that sold in the quarter was the largest in 30 years at 2,937 square feet, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel.

Buyers have been “looking for amenities,” said Liz Nunan, chief executive officer of brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, which tracks what buyers prioritize when browsing listings.

“We noticed spikes in searches for things like pools and tennis courts and mountain views,” she said.

Demand for Westchester homes doesn’t appear to be abating.

Purchases pending as of Sept. 30 soared 71% from a year earlier, Houlihan Lawrence said in its report on the market. Contracts jumped even in the most rarefied price categories: Deals at $3 million to $3.99 million doubled, and those priced at $4 million or more increased 15%.

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