State of the Westchester real estate market – Clues from the Manhattan market.

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Westchester NY Real estateA few weeks ago, I noticed that my friend from the Manhattan real estate market – Mitchell Hall, had posted some very encouraging data. Manhattan is doing quite well in spite of the doom and gloom coming from the talking heads.  All real estate is local – so what happens nationally has little bearing on individual markets.  New York State  was one of the stronger markets in the country.  The New York metro area posted  3% gain in housing prices overall. The medain price was up 9% over the previous year and up 4% per square foot.  Amazing performance given the state of the rest of the economy.

What does this mean for Westchester NY real estate?  Well, as Manhattan goes – so goes Westchester.  If prices in the city are edging higher eventually that wave hits Westchester as even hard-core Manhattanites consider mass immigration to….gasp…..the SUBURBS!!!!  And Westchester – particularly lower Westchester is the most logical move.

For Manhattanites – Westchester is the location of choice when they make a move. 

About a year ago, I was looking at a “heat map” of human migration across the US.   The map showed areas of the country that  were emptying out  such as the rust belt as well as  areas that were seeing increased populations.   It was neat.   When I clicked on Westchester, I couldn’t see anyone moving in.  At first I thought our county was emptying out at a crazy rate….which made no sense….but then I realized that the map was too small. You couldn’t see the bee-line of immigration from NYC, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.  When I increased the size of the map to its maximum – there it was.  The fact is that Westchester is the location of choice  for people leaving NYC.   If Manhattanites were a herd of buffalo – Westchester would be tracking the periodic stampedes as obsessively as we track the weather.

Westchester NY now has the amenities that city dwellers seek – this isn’t your parents suburb.

And why not?  Westchester has changed a lot over 20 years.  It is no longer the series of sleepy villages and towns of yesteryear. Once Manhattanites get over the mind set that Westchester is merely a country bumpkin backwater (which takes just one visit)  the benefits of living here are clear.    Its  costs a whole lot less and you get a lot more space without giving up the fine dining, shopping and entertainment that NYC has to offer.   Upscale restaurants and retail are everywhere and we are catching up in entertainment and the arts.  You don’t need to go to the city for a night out on the town or a first class shopping spree.  That’s all here now.  And if they want the city – its about 30 minutes away.    From some locations the commute to midtown and downtown is as easy or easier than some locations in the city itself and they can enjoy a smooth, easy and productive  20-40 minutes  on metro-north train rather than being crammed like a sardine standing for 30 minutes on a subway.

Soooo a healthy market in Manhattan is a harbinger of a healthy market in Westchester – particularly lower Westchester.  Areas within a 40 minute commute by metro-north are particularly attractive when prices are rising in the city.

© 2011 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks



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