Recently, Inman News wrote about commutes across the country. Not surprisingly, the NYC commute was rated the longest in the nation. So its no small wonder that commuting distance (read commuting TIME) plays a big role in determining home values. For many home owners, their home values have become something of a crap-shoot. Take away train line or even just at station stop, add major congestion on primary local arteries and those who were previously sitting on pretty pile of equity may see it all go south.
We live in an interesting world. With home prices rising and inventories low, the last thing most of you would be expecting from me is a news letter about appraisal problems. How could that possibly be an issue right now? This would seem like a total no-brainer. Prices are going UP, so what’s the problem?
Scarsdale has always been a famous Westchester location. It has a panache that is all its own. Often with very good reason, I might add. It is a lovely town and the village center has tremendous old-world charm.
Last week I released several market reports. Every time I do this, I agonize over the numbers and worry that buyers and sellers will take these numbers the wrong way, or perhaps too literally.
Numbers don’t lie, but they can be loaded with caveats…
There are times when I calculate the median sales and know that the results are just “wrong”. I don’t mean “wrong” in the sense that the calculations are incorrect. I mean that even though numbers don’t lie, they can be distorted by random quirks.
I used to be a biologist and actually spent many years in the lab. Outliers in biological systems are common and they can skew the data and make a general mess of things. And so it is with real estate. When you drill down into towns and villages, the total numbers go down and that means random variances in the housing stock can give distort the picture, kind of like a fun house mirror.
So then I have to ask myself, am I wrong or is it something about the numbers? Did sales prices REALLY go up over 20% in town “A” over a mere year? Or did condo sales prices really tank in town “B”?
Larchmont is a village and P.O. in the town of Mamaroneck. As such it is part of the Sound Shore portion of lower Westchester, hugging the Long Island Sound on its eastern point.
The Larchmont market, like other markets along the Sound Shore, is an appreciating market. It is one of the most popular destinations for those seeking to move to the suburbs from Manhattan or one of the other boroughs. The bulk of this market is the single family home market. There are several very popular cooperative complexes along with a brand new luxury condo complex (The Cambium) that has just started closing their first sales at a good clip.
The Mamaroneck market, like other markets along the Sound Shore, is a very active one that is appreciating in value. By far the biggest part of this market is in single-family homes, although there are several very popular condo and co-op complexes, many near the center of town and the Metro-North station.
In previous post, Downsizing – The waiting game, I alluded to the winners and losers in the new urbanization. This time I decided to delve a bit more deeply into the matter and share some thoughts on the topic generally. This is not about real estate specifically, but more about creating a vision for outlying areas in our towns and cities.
Most empty-nesters eventually want to downsize and many are exploring their options. For most, the issue isn’t a matter of if, but when. Its both an emotional and financial decision that on a scale of 1-10 rates an 11 on life-changing events.
Complicating matters is an underlying issue that often takes empty-nesters by surprise. What they are finding is that even though their home is rising in value, the housing recovery has been very uneven and often not working in their favor.
Westchester is home to many towns villages and cities. It can all be more than a little bit confusing. We have several cities including Cortlandt, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Rye City, White Plains and Yonkers. The towns are often subdivided into villages and hamlets which can create a hodge-podge of confusion.
For many home buyers, one of the biggest considerations is the local school system. The Westchester school systems are quite well know for their excellence. But they are also a crazy tangle of districts overlapping towns and villages. For example, a post office address of Scarsdale can put a home in either the Scarsdale, Edgemont, Eastchester or Yonkers school district. And if that doesn’t give you a migraine, remember that that’s just one post office address. A good agent can help home buyers navigate this maze.
Where we can’t be of much help is when buyers ask specifically about the quality of individual schools or school districts. I am often in the position of having to say that I can not offer an opinion on this very important issue. Steering laws forbid us from weighing in on issues of this nature.