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Old 05-30-2010, 08:56 AM
 
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Thanks. Yes, condition is the most important thing I'm looking for especially since I've never owned a house before so I'm unsure about what dangers (underground oil tanks, bad drywalls, carcinogens, etc) to look out for. And what I've observed with other homeowners is that disasters happen first before such dangers are discovered.
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Old 05-30-2010, 02:49 PM
 
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I very much agree with Cali and Flowergarden on the timing of house purchase. Our experience is spring still is the best time to buy but expect to pay a premium due to buyers' competition and high price expectations from sellers. Post spring, whether to get a great house really depends on your luck but prices tend to be lower overall. We found out lower prices come from two reasons - sellers have become realistic after sitting on the market for the spring, and / or the houses do have some undesirable features that requires a significant price drop to attract buyers. Buying afer spring season requires you monitoring the listings very closely or having a good diligent realtor working for you so that once the right house with right price comes on you can jump onto it right away. It can be June, August, November or January. It's not predicatible because those sellers sort of have to sell and usually would consider what price the market wants. Those who don't have to sell list their houses in the spring (april to may) to try to get the price their want. We got a house in November upon a great price reduction but it failed inspection. Then we went through painful waiting time until April because of lack of houses to choose from and the snow storms that flooded many basements and postponed lots of listings. We overpaid on the house we are getting now but we really do not have much other choices. To us, getting the ideal house before the season runs off again is much more important than a few tens of thousands dollars.
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Old 05-30-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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PEmom - Congrats on the house, where did you end up buying? I know you were previously renting in Armonk, right? Curious to know where you landed, as you have been so helpful sharing your experiences here.
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Old 05-31-2010, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EagleScout94 View Post
flower, I agree. also, the other thing that always "bugs" me is below-ground oil tanks, particularly if a house has somewhat extensive renovations. if they spent the money to fix the bathrooms, they could spend the 5k to remove the tank and install an above-ground one in the basement, etc. the longer the oil tank stays underground, the greater the chance of a leak developing. similarly, some sellers let their oil tank insurance lapse if they know they are going to sell, which creates further risk that any problems associated with the tank will be a huge headache.
Underground oil tanks are really only a problem if it is a steel tank, which the government stopped allowing in 1986 because they are prone to leaking. Underground tanks made after 1986 are double-walled and extremely safe. They are especially safe in Westchester--while most places do not regulate underground tanks, Westchester is one of the 5 counties in NY that does, which means that there are strict rules and safety guidelines regarding underground tanks here. You can’t buy a house here without having the tank tested and without getting insurance. You can easily get tank insurance that covers the total costs of remediation in case of any leak (including leaks that occur during removal) As long as you get good insurance, there’s no potential liability.

The New York State DEC guide to underground tanks says that home owners with steel tanks should have them replaced with new double-walled ones. Since this topic first came up, I’ve spoken to three people who work at Westchester architecture firms (two architects and a site engineer). They all said that their firms put underground oil tanks in lots of their residential projects and that they’ve never had any problems with them. They all agreed that if an underground tank is steel (that is, pre-1986) you better have it removed and replaced ASAP.
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Old 05-31-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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dma- thanks for response. for houses older than 1986, are you saying that they are more than likely holding "post-1986" replacement tanks? also, are you sure about all of your info regarding insurance? (I am just asking because it seems contrary to general insurance law, but I have no familiarity with this issue so appreciate all helpers - if you let a policy lapse in other environmental situations, you need a new inspection before you can get insurance- so if the policy has lapsed, you cannot get "re-covered" until after you have already been inspected.) or is the inspection that the insurance company simply relies on the same inspection that you used in connection with purchasing the house?

In any event, I had another question for all of the "chappaqua experts" out there-- are the people generally "nice"? during all of our house-hunts, we have not really seen neighbors chatting with one another, etc.? does the big temple in center of town make an effort to be-friend newcomers, etc? we know the schools are good, and we are sort of becoming experts on the "real estate" issues- but still not totally certain on the "vibe" of the town? will my wife (a sahm with no family in the area) be able to make friends for playdates for our infant son, etc? thanks!!!
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Old 05-31-2010, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EagleScout94 View Post
dma- thanks for response. for houses older than 1986, are you saying that they are more than likely holding "post-1986" replacement tanks? also, are you sure about all of your info regarding insurance? (I am just asking because it seems contrary to general insurance law, but I have no familiarity with this issue so appreciate all helpers - if you let a policy lapse in other environmental situations, you need a new inspection before you can get insurance- so if the policy has lapsed, you cannot get "re-covered" until after you have already been inspected.) or is the inspection that the insurance company simply relies on the same inspection that you used in connection with purchasing the house?
Most houses, regardless of how old they are, should have post-1986 tanks--that was 24 years ago. Every time a house changes ownership, the tank is inspected. So chances are most houses that had old steel tanks have been resold in the last 24 years and those tanks either failed the inspection and had to be replaced or the new owers had them replaced even if they passed just to be safer and to have much cheaper insurance. If you are looking at a house with a steel tank, I would certainly make its removal a contingency.

What I know about oil tank insurance is that you can't buy a house in Westchester that has an underground tank without having oil tank insurance set up prior to the closing. In order to get the insurance, you need to get the tank inspected and approved. That happens prior to buying the house. The insurance company uses the same inspection that you get as part of the home inspection process-- you have to have the insurance agreement at the closing, or else the closing won't happen. Hope that helps.
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Old 05-31-2010, 07:33 PM
 
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thanks for clarification on oil tank issues- that does give us some comfort. on the other issue (general vibe/friendliness of Chappaqua), anyone care to chime in? thanks
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Forest_Hills_Daddy View Post
Thank you for the heads-up everyone. I will keep these tips in mind.

Also, is there a good time in the year to go house hunting in Chappaqua, in terms of finding good listings? Would it be better to do it around January, May or the summer?
As others have said, inventory is highest in the spring, right around now. As well as the number of house hunters. So you will have more choices now, but also more buyers to compete with. In the winter, you have less of each.

Historically, typically, prices are slightly higher in the spring 2-5% higher, than during the fall and winter. Sellers have gotten more desperate, there are less likely to be multiple buyers bidding for the same property, etc.

So typically, historically, one would expect prices right now, to be 2-5% higher than just a few months ago.

But it's hard not to notice, these are not typical times in the real estate market. The Federal tax credit expired recently. There are fears of a double dip recession. Prices may still just be on a decline, or flat. Thus, it is also entirely possible that prices now, will be the same, or lower, than they were just a few months ago.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:53 AM
 
701 posts, read 3,108,497 times
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Originally Posted by EagleScout94 View Post
thanks for clarification on oil tank issues- that does give us some comfort. on the other issue (general vibe/friendliness of Chappaqua), anyone care to chime in? thanks
If you move in, you're new neighbors are unlikely to ring the doorbell, bring you an Apple Pie, and welcome you to the neighborhood. There aren't going to be many big block parties and get-to-know-you events.

That's not to say you would find Chappaqua cold or unfriendly. But you will have to venture out to meet new people, and not expect them to come to you. It's not as is the people are excessively rude, and you will be able to make friends and acquaintances. Strangers will nod and smile, they will hold open a door.

For many, the gateway into relationships, is through their children.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:56 AM
 
701 posts, read 3,108,497 times
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Originally Posted by EagleScout94 View Post

In any event, I had another question for all of the "chappaqua experts" out there-- are the people generally "nice"? during all of our house-hunts, we have not really seen neighbors chatting with one another, etc.? does the big temple in center of town make an effort to be-friend newcomers, etc? we know the schools are good, and we are sort of becoming experts on the "real estate" issues- but still not totally certain on the "vibe" of the town? will my wife (a sahm with no family in the area) be able to make friends for playdates for our infant son, etc? thanks!!!
If she takes your son to some "mommy and me" type of stuff at the library, the gymnastics center, etc.. she will meet similar families. As long as she is friendly, I'm sure she will be able to make playdates, make friends.

I live across the street from the temple, and I've never seen a particular effor to befriend newcomers. Of course, I'm sure if you were to join, I'm sure they have events where you can meet others. It's one of the more expensive temples around. When I get around to joining a temple in a couple years, I'll probably go elsewhere.
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