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Old 03-25-2011, 08:49 AM
 
71 posts, read 220,841 times
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My husband and I have been looking at homes in Westchester for a few months, and I must admit, I am frustrated and sick of it!
We have a budget of $600k, and want to be as close as possible to the city, where we currently live. We have narrowed our search to Pelham and Mamaroneck. We are looking for a nice, walkable town with good schools. I am just so frustrated with what you can get for about $550k in these areas. We have seen homes that need to be gutted, homes that have not been updated since the 1960's, homes with literally no yards, etc. It is just crazy, and really depressing.
Is there some magical town in Westchester that has good schools, that is close to the city, where we can actually buy a nice home? I doubt one exists, but I wanted to see if anyone has any advice for a first time homebuyer in the Westchester area.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:29 AM
 
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The closer to the city, the higher the prices. We wanted to stay close to the city but just couldn't afford to (we live in Pleasantville). Now that we live here, I wouldn't go to lower Westchester even though I love some of the towns. Everything is so much less crowded and more convenient here. People are nicer. I spent my whole life going places in lower Westchester and now I wouldn't want to go back. The extra 10 minutes on Metro North is so worth it to me (my dh even agrees now!). Maybe you should consider going a bit further north.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Pleasantville, NY
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Originally Posted by lan3 View Post
The closer to the city, the higher the prices. We wanted to stay close to the city but just couldn't afford to (we live in Pleasantville). Now that we live here, I wouldn't go to lower Westchester even though I love some of the towns. Everything is so much less crowded and more convenient here. People are nicer. I spent my whole life going places in lower Westchester and now I wouldn't want to go back. The extra 10 minutes on Metro North is so worth it to me (my dh even agrees now!). Maybe you should consider going a bit further north.
Um... Ditto!

Moved out of a co-op in Scarsdale to Pleasantville. We do miss the "walk-ability" of Scarsdale and the shops, but we have a house and a yard that isn't measured in square inches.

My wife's parents now live in a co-op in Scarsdale, and each time we visit, she says how much she misses it but wouldn't give up where we live now and the house we're in. Plus, I don't miss the sound of the train every 20 minutes.

But to touch on what the OP said... welcome to NY real estate. We went through the same thing you're going through. We found houses that are close to the city, but the asking prices is many times more than the actual value, most have to be gutted ON TOP OF paying $600k for it. And those that don't need to be gutted need a lot of updating and/or another $100k just to make it more livable.

Is it worth it? It's a matter of opinion and what your needs are. We both have cars so we can drive to anywhere we need to go; we're not bound by the need of public transportation. Would I spend more $$ for a smaller house, smaller lot, so that I can be closer to the city? For us, doesn't make sense since we're rarely go to the city anymore. She does occasionally work in the city, but she's spending 20-30 minutes more on the train per day. A small price to pay.
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Old 03-25-2011, 04:35 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
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You might be able to do Rye Neck or an area in 'the flats' of Mamaroneck, but no, there is no secret area close to the city that is cheap. In either of those places, you are looking at a townhouse or an old fixer.
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Old 03-26-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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Try Franklin Square in Long Island. It's only a few stops from NYC along the LIRR. Taxes are still reasonable at less than $15K (some homes have taxes less than $10K, depending). You can get a home that doesn't have to be gutted for less than $600K. The public school is comparable to Westchester at the elementary level. The Jr./Sr. High school is a blue ribbon school, though many FS residents send their children to Catholic schools (esp. for high school).
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Old 03-26-2011, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Katonah, NY
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We moved from the city to Katonah. We have a much longer commute - the hubby has to go into the city 6 days a week but I only have to go in from time to time. However - we have a beautiful home on a lake in a wonderful, friendly neighborhood. We are a short drive from downtown Katonah which is so cute and quaint. We have half an acre and a gorgeous lake view. The house is in great shape and we are only making minor adjustments. It's much farther than where you are looking - but I wouldn't trade our house or our location for anything!
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:23 PM
 
71 posts, read 220,841 times
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Thanks for all the advice. I guess we will just keep on looking and not give up hope! We go month to month on our lease, so we are lucky that we don't have to move ASAP.
As for Long Island, I have a friend who lives in Rockville Center, and I really like the town, but my husband refuses to move to LI!
Katonah is gorgeous, but it is way too long of a commute for us.
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Old 03-27-2011, 07:54 PM
 
7,296 posts, read 11,099,913 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KBF30 View Post
As for Long Island, I have a friend who lives in Rockville Center, and I really like the town, but my husband refuses to move to LI!
Since you have time, why not do some house tours / open houses in Franklin Square just for kicks and compare them to houses (and the resulting taxes) you would get for a similar price in Westchester? It might change his mind should he start doing the numbers. Also try Stuart Manor if you push through, though I think FS's taxes are lower.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:52 AM
 
258 posts, read 864,027 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KBF30 View Post
Thanks for all the advice. I guess we will just keep on looking and not give up hope! We go month to month on our lease, so we are lucky that we don't have to move ASAP.
As for Long Island, I have a friend who lives in Rockville Center, and I really like the town, but my husband refuses to move to LI!
Katonah is gorgeous, but it is way too long of a commute for us.
My husband worked in Rockville Center. It's really nice there but my husband refused to live on LI too!
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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We just spent the last 3 months as first time NY/Westchester buyers, and went through everything that you are experiencing now. We are about to (hopefully) go under contract w/ a home in Chappaqua. Our budget was similar to yours, between $550-$650K b/c of taxes. We could afford more home, but not the taxes that went with them. We opted to forgo all the towns closer to the city, b/c you just can't find a decent SFH in that price range. We even looked into Fairfield county next door, but ultimately, it just came down to the house we could get. I agree w/the OPs; if you can convince yourself to move further up 10-15 miles, you'll be able to get train towns, great schools, a SFH w/a real yard and taxes...sadly, they're just a package deal. Amazing how fast you can accept that $12K in taxes sounds so much better than $20K/yr.

One thing to note is that you can look into reducing your tax ratio w/purchase of a new home on a typical buyer to buyer contract w/o having to go through the tedious tax grievance process that homeowner's have to go through. It was how we ended up re-considering the home in Chappaqua. You may want to also try researching school district lines schools are is a priority. ie: There were more SFHs in our budget in Mt. Kisco than Chappaqua but also were within the Chappaqua school district. We feel that the sacrifices that we are making are worth it to have the best options for a decent quality of life, our children's education and my husbands commute to work.

I wouldn't give up! The rates are still low and based upon our very brief experience w/home buying here, homes that are on the market for awhile are all open to reductions, which can help out with the tax base. Best of luck to you!
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