First time buyers looking for homes for sale in Westchester NY face a variety of choices. There are a lot of homes on the market right now and many find themselves like kids in a candy store. But that doesn’t negate the fact that houses for sale in Westchester NY are still very expensive and many of the things on that wish list – including the “must haves” often have to to be reconsidered and scaled back.
For example, the entry level buyer that wants a pre-war charmer with 2 full baths and and open floor plan with central AC for under $500k is looking for a product that does not exist in this market.
It is true that most first time buyers turn their noses up at the cookie cutter – or they would LIKE to. However, this disdain finds itself running up against the reality that cookie cutters very often offer more bang for the buck and more of the modern features that new home buyers crave than a pre-war charmer. A buyer can get more bang for the buck with respect to an extra bath, a larger kitchen and more square footage generally.
The inventory of Westchester homes offers new homeowners a choice – an old-world charmer with no master bath and less square footage or a cookie cutter with 2.5 baths, a more open flow floor plan and a bonus room. Once you have both in the same house, a first time buyer is looking at a serious case of sticker shock.
The Pre-War Charmer:
The pre-war charmer offers character and style. The character of the home is already built-in and no two are a like – particularly with respect to the facades. The older finishes on the interior are unique. Even with the most bland Pottery Barn design aesthetic on the interior, these homes have instant character.
These older homes are more likely to be close to town. In walk-score terms, the pre-war charmers generally win hands down. Walking to train, walking to town for shopping, dining and entertainment – is something you are more likely to find in a pre-war charmer. Since they are small and solid, they are generally energy efficient. Taxes are lower – a big issue in Westchester. This is in part due to the age of these homes and in part due to the fact that these homes are smaller with fewer baths. So the new modern – energy -conscious lifestyle can create a preference for these compact, convenient and charming homes.
Here are a couple of photos from homes in the (mostly) pre-war neighborhood of the Highlands White Plains NY. The charm and style are obvious.
The cookie-cutter is a different animal built in a different time. Having been built closer to our present time, the cookie cutter does offer features that man first-time buyers demand, but can not get from a pre-war charmer. For example, many pre-war homes have only one bath. Most buyers want at least a powder room and a bath and ideally most want 2.5 baths with a master suite. This is nearly impossible to find in an entry level pre-war home. Yes, you can add the bath (depending on layout) but that is an expensive and time-consuming fix. Central air? Many cookie-cutters already have it – or at least the duct work necessary to install it.
For interior renovations – the cookie-cutter beats the pre-war hands down. The cookie-cutter lends itself to open floor plans that are so popular today. To take out a wall you don’t have to deal with layers of plaster and lathe. Drywall is a lot easier to work with. Raise the roof to create another level? Not so easy in my 1910-1920 charmer with a clay tile roof – but with a cookie-cutter its relatively easy.
If the pre-war charmer is automatic style in a box – the cookie-cutter is the blank slate. It is up to the homeowner to create character both inside and out.
The photo at the top of the post is from a rather large home (its very deceptive from the front) located in Prospect Park White Plains NY. It was gut renovated a few years ago. This time, the owners didn’t expand or build out, but they restored a home that was in dire need of TLC and the results were lovely.
The cookie-cutters above are also located in Prospect Park White Plains NY offer insight into how to make such a home your own. The first home was a simple bland ranch. They added a porch to the front – defining the home and creating style and character where there was none before. The standard 60s split-level on the right was landscaped with thoughtful attention to details such as window boxes and a winding walkway surrounding by mature growth and colorful landscaping.
In the final picture you see a complete re-do of the facade of a 1960s split level. The owners didn’t change the footprint, but the home looks entirely different and although it is obviously a split level – it is difficult to associate it at all with the 1960s aesthetic from which I assure it originates.
© 2010 – Ruthmarie Hicks https://thewestchesterview.com Cookie-cutter redux vs pre-war charmer – the battle rages on
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