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Old 08-22-2008, 03:44 PM
 
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Since January I've been looking at houses all over central Westchester in the 500-560K range and it seems that with few exceptions, every house has some kind of major flaw, e.g., great house, run-down neighborhood; beautiful neighborhood, house needs many major repairs/updates; awkward layout; extremely low ceilings; horrible school district; exorbitant (even for Westchester) taxes for the size of the house & lot/school district; etc.

Although this is supposed to be a buyer's market, it doesn't seem that way to me in Westchester. Sellers don't want to lower their prices, even for the worst houses. Most of the inventory I've seen is terrible. I have seen three houses since January that were worthy of consideration, but there were either bidding wars on them or the sellers refused a reasonable lower offer. It seems like there are no decent houses on the market.

What have your house hunting experiences been like in the last few months?
Has anyone been able to benefit from this supposed buyer's market?
Are there better deals to be found at a higher price point?
What do you think the housing inventory will be like in the next year?
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Old 08-22-2008, 07:46 PM
 
Location: Peekskill, NY
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Hang in there - the right house will eventually come along. I think it is hard though, especially in the price range, to find something that doesn't involve some level of compromise, so you might want to think about what is really important to you. Also keep in mind that if a seller doesn't have to move, they have a lot less incentive to lower their price and, at least in my opinion, even in a buyer's market, good houses are going to attract interest and potentially multiple offers. There is also the fact that looking for and buying a house is just generally a frustrating and stressful but also exciting process.

We were looking in approximately the same price range (were willing to go to the mid 5s but hoping to find something for less), during pretty much the same time period (also started in Jan) and felt similarly. I think part of the problem is that price range is considered on the lower side for most of the county, so even people with fixers (and boy have I seen some fixers), or some other type of draw back feel like they don't need to further lower their price - though a lot of prices certainly are being dropped.

We recently purchased a home in Peekskill, which some would say is not the most desirable section of Westchester although so far we love it. Our house also needs a great deal of work, but it had everything we were looking for and we know once the work is done, it has the potential to be fabulous. The seller did agree to a lower price, although not quite as low as we had hoped. In the end, even though I still feel we might have slightly overpaid, we are still saving money over our last house in the long run and are quite happy with our decision.

What type of house are you looking for? Best of luck on your search.
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:12 PM
 
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We're looking for a raised ranch, split, colonial, or an expanded Cape Cod, with 2000-2400 sf, EIK, 3+BR, 2 baths. Any of the following towns would be great: Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Briarcliff Manor, Ossining, White Plains, NWP, Pleasantville, Harrison and Rye Brook.

We'd don't want a total fixer-upper, since we won't have much money left after we move and don't relish the thought of a prolonged period of living in a construction zone. But we don't mind having to do a little work on the house.

How long did it take you to find your house?
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Old 08-23-2008, 04:03 PM
 
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That's a very limited budget for some of those towns on your list. You're going to be constrained to 'fixer-uppers' there.
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:33 AM
 
Location: Peekskill, NY
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I guess it took us about 4 months. We actually saw the house we ended up buying pretty early on, but the listed price was too high and we also still need to sell our own home. I think we saw it in January, made an offer on it in May, which was rejected as too low, then made an offer on another house that didn't end up working out, and finally came back to this house and made a higher offer which was accepted. Once our house was under contract we were under pressure to find something because we really didn't want to move into a rental and then move again (plus finding a rental with dogs is not the easiest thing in the world).

Are you commuting to the city? If you're considering Ossining, I would recommend you check out the Yorktown area as well, though the commute is somewhat longer, it might not be a different as it seems strictly on distance because the trains further north go into the city express while those from Ossining might be more local. My sense is that you could get a house that has been updated with most of the bells and whistles well within your price range.
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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Hi- I am pretty sure- no matter how bad the market gets you will not find a home in your price range in Rye Brook (Blind Brook Schools) or Briarcliff (Briarcliff) schools. You can most def. rule those out. I think Tarrytown and the nice areas of White Plains are going to be tough. I think you will eventually get lucky in Ossining, possibly NWP and maybe West Harrison. The better the schools the higher the prices. Best of Luck!
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:04 PM
 
1,594 posts, read 3,155,128 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie1249 View Post
Since January I've been looking at houses all over central Westchester in the 500-560K range and it seems that with few exceptions, every house has some kind of major flaw, e.g., great house, run-down neighborhood; beautiful neighborhood, house needs many major repairs/updates; awkward layout; extremely low ceilings; horrible school district; exorbitant (even for Westchester) taxes for the size of the house & lot/school district; etc.

Although this is supposed to be a buyer's market, it doesn't seem that way to me in Westchester. Sellers don't want to lower their prices, even for the worst houses. Most of the inventory I've seen is terrible. I have seen three houses since January that were worthy of consideration, but there were either bidding wars on them or the sellers refused a reasonable lower offer. It seems like there are no decent houses on the market.

What have your house hunting experiences been like in the last few months?
Has anyone been able to benefit from this supposed buyer's market?
Are there better deals to be found at a higher price point?
What do you think the housing inventory will be like in the next year?
Four words: for sale by owner.

also, I think you're being a tad bit unrealistic. You are NOT going to find a 2400 SF house in Westchester for 500k that doesn't need a lot of work or isn't next to the projects.

Think 1700 - 2000 SF and think 600k-650k and what you'll see will be a lot better.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:32 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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What about Valhalla? There may not be huge numbers of houses in your price range, and they might be a little smaller, or might have one bathroom, but you could find something useable there. And, just be sure to look in Valhalla Union Free District for the better school district in the area.

The Village of Tuckahoe might also have something, though there's not much in Eastchester at that price point, and it will certainly be smaller.

If you're willing to go further to the north, I'd say to check out Yorktown in a second, since $550k goes much further there, comparatively. It's not exactly inexpensive, but for Westchester there is a better value offered and you can get the house you described in your preferred styles at that price. There's more of them from which to choose, so the likelihood of finding one that works for your family is that much greater. Another area that's not going to be as difficult to meet your preferences is Croton, while this is not the higher end of the Croton market, you can find houses that meet your price and size in this area, though there are fewer than in Yorktown.

The price point you described for the house you seek is really in the $750k range in many of the towns you're considering, hence the problems in finding one that is not in need of a total renovation. That's why I agree with the above posters that you might need to reconsider your space requirements and budget if you want to stay in the towns you mentioned. If you're willing to consider other areas that have decent schools, but longer commutes, you stand a much better chance of finding something without the process being too frustrating.
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Old 08-26-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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I was basing my expectations for lower prices on what real estate agents and the news media have been reporting about the softening market in WC. But it looks like that's only true for fixer uppers. Move-in condition houses seem like they haven't really budged in price.

My husband works in upper Manhattan, so we're hoping to find a place that will have a commute time of no more than one hour, door to door. I'm going to look into Yorktown and Croton to see if those are viable options.

We looked in Tuckahoe also, to no avail.

Thanks for your replies.

Last edited by Pivot Point; 08-26-2008 at 04:08 PM..
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:47 AM
 
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We've been looking in the same range and I know what you mean. We decided to rent for a year and wait out the market. I am seeing price drops (I've been watching houses since winter) of $50k or so on a lot of things, but I'm waiting for more. You're right in that the softest prices are on the least-appealing houses. You might consider something that needs cosmetics (painting inside/out, kitchen cabinet refacing, ugly carpets removed), rather than something that's HGTV-ready. Also if you look toward the lower end of your size range, but get something with a finished basement (which is not usually counted in the square footage), that might give you the space you need without the high price.
All that said, there are plenty of raised ranches in Westchester and there's no reason to spend $600,000 on one. Some towns, though, strike me as untouchable: Rye Brook and Sleepy Hollow for sure. Tarrytown and Briarcliff might be tough. Yorktown or Cortlandt Manor should be easy, but they're really far away. Ossining should be easy, and I also see a lot in White Plains (and taxes are reasonable in WP), but you'd need to look carefully at the schools in each case. You might also try northern New Rochelle, and possibly Hartsdale. We like Croton, but taxes are toward the absurd end of the Westchester spectrum, so I don't know if we'll end of buying there. Good luck.
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