That condo is on the market for how much?!!! Westchester’s elusive empty-nester downsize…

Welcome to the Westchester View’s first  podcast.  This is hopefully the first of many podcasts on the state of the Westchester real estate market.  I hope you enjoy the content and find it helpful and informative.

The great boomer “downsizing” has begun in earnest!  Over the past couple of months I have been working with several empty-nesters as they tackle the good, the bad and the ugly of downsizing.

Sticker Shock isn’t just for first-time home buyers…

So I wanted to take a minute to address an issue that is coming up a great deal  when people consider downsizing.  Its called “sticker shock” and it was something that most were not expecting.   Downsizer’s  are finding is that the slick townhouse or condo they have their eye on  can cost almost as much as what they can sell their far larger single-family home for.  This is often a hard blow for those who were hoping that the transition would allow them to “cash out” a significant sum for their golden years.  It seems very unfair that they are making a lateral move with  almost no money to bank in order to purchase something with no land and half the square footage.

But the housing market is driven by supply and demand and fairness is not part of the equation.  Times change and that rolling lawn and car-dependent lifestyle that was the boomer’s American dream, is not shared as much by the millennial’s or even genX’ers.  The demand has shifted away from a big house on a large private lot.   A home  on a small lot in a walkable neighborhood where town and train are just steps away is what rings most current buyer’s bell.   The result is that that walkable condo costs more per square foot then the house, because what you are buying is more than raw space and land, you are also buying a  lifestyle.

So what to do? 

Potential downsizers  need to take a step back and ask what it is that they are really trying to do.  Does a lateral move make sense.  At first blush, one tend to say no.  But in many cases it does.

Now, before you knock me upside the head for being totally insane, let’s look at the entire picture.

Most people have three goals in mind when they downsize:

  1.  The first one is the most obvious.  People selling a large single-family home hope to cash-out some money as part of their retirement plan.  This is desirable for some but necessary for others.
  2. The second goal, though less obvious is often more important. Many who are downsizing are doing so because of OVERHEAD.  When the nest is empty and the children are not using the school system, the “nut” on a single family home can become onerous.  Westchester is famous for its high taxes and high utility bills.  From lawn care, snow removal, ConEd to taxes, heating and cooling, the bigger your house, the higher your overhead.  Very often a condo or townhouse provides immediate relief from these overhead woes.
  3. The third goal is one of lifestyle. There is a movement away from car dependency and large properties. Empty nesters want a walkable neighborhood, and most of all,  the full burden of caring for a home off their shoulders.  Caring for a single family home is hard work.  Most people’s enthusiasm for “fun” projects  such as major landscaping or building that deck off the kitchen  fade over time.

So what I am saying here is this:  two out of three ain’t bad.  Whether it is enough depends on your unique financial situation.

There is something else as well.  We are currently still in the early phases of a bull housing run. Unlike the stock market, housing tends to have long cycles.  There have been no massive price run-ups in recent years but we are seeing steady appreciation.  That condo or townhouse you purchase today, will probably be worth more tomorrow.  If you decide to sell in several years because you need to bank some cash, this market is putting you in a position to make a decent profit.

(Caveat – I can’t make guarantees – that lesson was learned during the housing crisis  – and no, I’m not talking about doubling the investment in 5 or even 10 years.  Hopefully those days are gone for good.)

You can downsize effectively and happily…

If your retirement plans do require that you bank money from your home sale, there are ways to do so.  It will of course require some compromise and some adjustments on how much home you can purchase or the precise location.   Often its just a matter of scaling back  from a true luxury complex to one that is slightly older or has fewer amenities.  This can be a difficult pill to swallow for a homeowner with a  large home that they really hate to leave in the first place.  But as a real estate agent I really can’t manufacture a market.  My job is to help each client succeed with the market they are presented with.  That is my job and my pleasure.

© 2015 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.

Please feel free to contact me any time to set up an appointment to explore your listing or purchasing needs or to request additional information. You call/email is very important to me, and if you have to leave a message, I will get back to you as soon as possible.  I am easy to reach…

by phone or text:  914-374-5529

by email: [email protected] 

Dream Home – Penthouse Edition 2014 – The Ritz Carlton of White Plains…

DreamHouse30 -SmallWestchester has many fall traditions.  It is famous for them.  Like the historic Hudson Valley Jack O’Lantern blaze, and Horseman’s Hollow, Westchester Magazine has created its own unique fall tradition: the Westchester Magazine’s Dream Home.  This year we have the “Penthouse Edition” at none other than the ultimate luxury complex – the Ritz Carlton in downtown White Plains NY.

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Another housing bubble or simply supply and demand….

Real Estate IssuesNAR just  released its housing report for Q4 2013 and I found some great information from the KCM blog regarding national and regional numbers.  If you ever watch talking heads on CNBC or any of the other presumed experts, your head is probably spinning  because everyone has a different take and every new report adds to the general chaos of data an numbers. But when I saw the numbers, the picture became a good deal clearer.

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For Sale In Ossining NY – 116 Cedar Lane

39 - Cedar - Exterior2- smallThe Bottom Line: 

  • Offered at $524,914
  • Property Taxes – $13,036

The Bullet:

  • 3 BR/2.5 BA
  • 2257 sf
  • 0.62 acres

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For Sale In Eastchester NY – 15 Eton Place

32 - Exterior2a - SmallerThe Bullet:

  • For-Sale-By-Owner
  • 5 BR/ 2.5 BA
  • 2900 SF (According to Zillow) 
  • 0.23 Acres
  • Offered at $749,000

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For Sale in Downtown White Plains NY – 2 Windsor Terrace #2G – A 2 BR/1 BA Cooperative

2 Windsor - Exterior2 - SmallThe Bottom Line:

  • Asking Price – $150,000
  • Common Charges – $924 without STAR
  • Deductible – 50%
  • Included Utilities – Heat/Hot Water

The Bullet: 

  • Square Feet: 1000
  • Parking: Wait list – $65/month
  • Living Space: 2 BR/1 BA

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For Sale in Mount Kisco NY 10549 – 25 Barker Street #201 – A 2 BR/2.5 BA Townhouse

25 Barker Street - Mount Kisco NY 10549The Bottom Line:

  • Asking Price: $349,000
  • Common Charges:  $348/month
  • Property Taxes: $4578 without STAR savings.

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Shopping Local – Supporting Your Community….

Make-A-Wish-SmallOk – if you haven’t gotten all your gifts by now, you really are officially a “last minute” shopper!  But if you are in that bind – here are a few local merchants that I ran across at a pop-up shop  where I was hawking my fine art photos.  The shop was a part of Tarrytown’s 3rd Friday and was generously hosted by Jenifer Ross of the Watercooler in Tarrytown.

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Fotos On The Fly – Sights of the season – SANTA!

Santa visits White PlainsMy latest and greats on my “Sights Of The Season” series – Previous installments can be accessed through my Holiday Season Archive of this blog which includes photos from Halloween onward.

Some photos are just plain FUN to take.  Santa is visiting White Plains on his vintage tractor!  After all, getting out all those Reindeer can be a challenge so backup transportation is sometimes in order.  And his presence certainly breathes new life into this great vintage tractor!

Love the imagination that went into this!

© 2013 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.

- See more at: visits White Plains

Fotos On The Fly – Sights of the season – A winter tree in a winter sky…

Winter Tree With Winter Sky

Sometimes the sights of the season reflect the cold of winter.  We are now near the solstice so the trees are all bare  and the sun sets early. I took this photo today just as the sun was starting to set.  The cloud cover over the horizon was thick and the cause of the darkness.  It just looked so dramatic against the bare tree, that I had to shoot it.  Yesterday we had a rather large snowstorm, but the temperature increase had melted the snow off the tree tops and all that was left were the bare branches.

© 2013 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.

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