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Old 07-23-2016, 05:33 PM
10 posts, read 16,208 times
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Does anyone know why there are so many houses that are for sale, and don't seem to have been selling, in the Greenhaven area of Rye Neck? Homes on Greenhaven Rd and especially Shore Rd seem to have many homes that haven't sold in months (although flooding issues probably explain Shore Rd area, but not the homes that are not affected by that). We are not from Westchester and can't figure this one out. No one really seems to have much of an answer other than that it is very far from trains and towns. Is it just a very insular community that excludes outsiders? It seems to be very pretty, although does not seem to have many people out walking or kids playing in yards.
Any insight would be helpful.
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Old 07-25-2016, 08:07 AM
Location: Westchester County, NY
246 posts, read 292,085 times
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I live in Greenhaven and just moved here last year. Before going into my observations, I must preface it by saying that we love it here! But I have moved around the country with my family a number of times, so the condition of my local market is something I have always watched quite carefully, so I feel like I can add some value to the conversation. So here it goes:
  1. Demographics. This is quite a small area, and you've seen a lot of children graduate from Rye Neck High School over the years whose families have kept their houses. Now, they are ready to move to downsize (either in property tax or house size or both). You are seeing the wave of people who could not sell their houses in years shortly after the financial crisis as well as the current wave. The wave is larger as a result, and much easier to notice because the neighborhood is so small.
  2. Mix of Super High-End and High-End Houses. You have an unusual mix of super high high end houses (>$2.5M) and high end houses ($1M-$2.5M). There was a time that was a strength of Greenhaven, as it meant that it wasn't as homogeneous as many high-end neighborhoods. But a higher percentage of parents of young kids who move to Westchester, who are by profile averse to taking risk with the environment in which they raise their children, have decided that this is not necessarily a positive.
  3. The Super High End House Problem. In addition to the mix problem, there is the super high end house issue generally. The market for this price range has slowed considerably, and it slowed well before the slight slowdown you're seeing in high-end houses now in Westchester and nationally. In Westchester County, that means >$2.5M, whereas in other regions, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, it starts at $4M. If you look at Zillow, scan the >$2.5M listing range for the super high-end neighborhoods of Rye, Scarsdale and Chappaqua (just to name a few) and you will see a TON of listings. These houses eventually sell, but they do so quite slowly.
  4. Pricing. High-end houses priced correctly have sold quite quickly. However, the uncertainty at the super high-end places some pressure on the high-end houses as well. People shopping in areas where they don't see the super high-end houses don't see the dynamic as explicitly as they do here. They are likely not perceive it at all.
  5. Rye Neck v Rye City. In a county with lots of mostly small school districts, Rye Neck is a VERY small school district. Despite being a fantastic school district, it takes very little variation in the student body to raise or drop the testing scores of Rye Neck. There have been years when Rye Neck was up there with Edgemont (the highest-scoring district) and years (like now) when it has dropped below Rye City. As the super-high end houses are competing with super-high end houses in the Rye City school district, many of which are newer and in a district that is currently scoring higher than Rye Neck, risk aversion drives that risk-averse group to Rye City and Scarsdale.
  6. Diversity. Ironically, Greenhaven may be the most diverse neighborhood in Rye, economically, racially, religiously and culturally. This is not necessarily a huge accomplishment (akin to the "tallest midget"), but this is a neighborhood that has a diversity that I don't see at events that are City of Rye based. At least some percentage of buyers who are moving their kids out of the City do not value this enough to favor Greenhaven; some will even view it negatively.
  7. Flood Zone. Many houses that were not in a flood zone before Sandy have been re-zoned into flood zones (or high-level flood zones if they were already in a flood zone). This will necessarily impact the pricing on these houses, and this season will help us to understand the pricing of this zoning. It is likely higher here than in Milton Point, for example, because people who want to boat and are close to a Marina have always been willing to take on flood risk. The fact that the Flood Zone issues disproportionately impact the super high end houses also makes the Super High End Problem more acute here.
  8. Provider/Receiver of School District Resources. For some homebuyers in the high end and super high end, there is also a question of socioeconomic dynamics. If you buy a $2M house in Rye Neck, you're going to be in the far upper tiers of families in the schools, and you'll be providing more resource than in Scarsdale or Rye City, where your tiering will be substantially lower. I heard this once, at least, and it makes some sense to me, although I don't really see that playing out in our schools, as many people actively provide many different types of resources ($, time, etc.).

The things that don't ring true for me are the insular neighborhood (I don't see that) or the distance from trains or downtowns. Rye Neck gets to be almost equidistant from Rye, Mamaroneck and Harrison downtowns. Most people in Rye do not live especially close to town, and they disproportionately drive to get there. I have a hard time believing that 60 seconds of driving is impacting this.

I see this as a temporary state, impacted by national trends. If the super high end is re-pricing (ahead of upticks in interest rates), then it's just a matter of time (5-10 years) before it pushes down on all housing throughout the County. On the other hand, this kind of uncertainty is great for buyers who have any rational risk tolerance, since these are opportunities to purchase homes at better prices than normally the case when things are clear. It doesn't help me, unfortunately, as I purchased prior to this recent wave of listings and now will take a disproportionately big hit as the re-pricing happens. C'est la vie. We love the house and the neighborhood, so I don't have much to complain about. Maybe even lower taxes? Ha!
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