Developers are building like crazy – but not what people need…

nyc - upper west side -
Photogenic NYC – Our “River Town” to the south…
June 28, 2017
The roaring river towns - Briarcliff Manor
The Westchester river towns – Focus on Briarcliff Manor
July 9, 2017

Last week I wrote a blog venting my frustration at the current trends in new construction. (For the love of GOD! – Could developers please build something besides luxury rentals?!?)

In that post, I described a disconnect between what home buyers want and need and what developers are interested in building. With almost no inventory for purchase, downsizing boomers or first time millennial buyers have nothing to buy. Meanwhile builders ignore the desperate need for midrange and entry level condos and keep building one luxury rental after another.   

This state of affairs brought me back to the saga of my dying MacBookPro. When I thought about it, The developers are not unlike Apple and its lineup of MacBooks.

Planned obsolescence for a premium price…

A couple of years ago, I had a dying MacBookPro. The computer was a little over 4 years old, so the AppleCare had expired. But given that I had paid a premium price for a computer that had a reputation for a long lifespan, I wasn’t a happy camper.

Truth was, my computer didn’t need to be dying. Apple had been designing their laptops to be ever thinner and lighter. The result was that components were being soldered in place to save space. In this case, the video card that failed couldn’t be replaced without replacing the entire mother board. The “repair” was worth more than the computer itself.

If only Apple would make the MacBookAir I needed…

So, what was I going to replace this computer with? I certainly wasn’t up to shelling out top dollar for more of the same. The newer models had more components than ever soldered into place. Even basic upgrades were no longer possible. I had no intention of paying a premium for an anorexic, un-upgradable computer that had no staying power for the long haul.

The MacBookAir had almost everything I needed – except one thing: I like a 15” screen. Blogging and extensive photo-editing take up a lot of screen real estate.

Surely Apple would put one on the market! People were practically begging Apple to make one on online forums. As one consumer pointed out: “A 15” MacBookAir would sell like hotcakes! HOTCAKES!”

So I kept hanging on with my frequently crashing computer waiting and hoping that Apple’s new lineup would feature just what so many consumers were begging for: a 15” MacBookAir.

It never happened.

Maybe Apple wanted to force people to buy MacBookPros???

People like their 15” screens. Many can afford to pay top-dollar for the extra “real estate” even if they would purchase something cheaper if available.

Apple just said “NO!” to what the public wanted and needed, because it didn’t suit their bottom line.

New Construction Everywhere...Developers are doing the same thing…

A recent article by Kyle Hiscock puts a spotlight on the issue (“Should I Sell My Home If There Aren’t Many Homes for Sale”). Although you can get a higher price and faster sale in a tight market, where do you go once your house is sold? Will there be something for you to buy once you have sold your own home?

So many boomers in my area are facing the same problem. They are just aching to sell their big homes, but feel that they can’t. There is precious little affordable condo inventory (under $800k) and almost nothing coming onto the market. So, like me waiting for a product Apple had no intention of creating, they stay in their big homes waiting for developers to see the light and build what they need and want.

Where is the mid-range condo inventory?”  they ask me. “Condos in that price range would sell like hotcakes!

Sounds familiar somehow…

There are no signs that this is going to change…

Projects such as condo and rental construction are measured in years. Over 90% of the new construction slated to be built in Westchester appears to be in the form of luxury rentals with a few very high-end boutique condo projects. Any other major projects are years away and no one is promising that affordable condos are in any future development plans.

One of the few new condo projects in the county just released its final phase of offerings with prices starting at $1.3 million. This prices out the average home owner who was looking to sell their home from $700k to $1.2 million and bank some serious cash for retirement.

So, the main alternatives builders are offering Westchester residents  is a series of 700 sf coat closets for extortionary rent and condos with prices that begin with 7 figures? This is a mismatch on steroids. But the mismatch applies mostly to current Westchester residents.

Here is the bottom line for developers…

What current Westchester residents want or need is not relevant if they can attract people with deeper pockets. There are plenty of buyers from Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens who are selling their homes for top dollar that fit the bill. That makes these new price points the new normal.

For those who feel they will need to make a move in less than 10 years…

If you plan to stay in Westchester…

Since this shows no signs of changing: GET MOVING! You are losing buying power while you sit and wait for inventory that is very unlikely to be built. Since single family homes are not rising in price as fast as condos, the longer you wait, the less condo your money will buy.

You need to position yourself to be able to buy what you want when it comes on market. Limited inventory means that your ducks need to be in a row so you can immediately pull the trigger.  Speaking with a lender and talking to an agent about what your options are is critically important in this sort of market.

You may have to compromise on size or location. Designers can help make a smaller space feel large. Marie Graham, (The Refreshed Home) is my go-to person for making excellent use of space. She is also a ninja stager. Using space effectively is key and can make smaller spaces seem a great deal larger than they are. My Pinterest board: Nooks & Crannies has some great ideas for downsizing families to make use of.  I also wrote a recent blog post on “Living Large in Less Space”.

If you plan to move to a less expensive area…

Time is more on your side in this case. Home values in this area are rising at a good clip with respect to other parts of the country. No one has a crystal ball, but waiting a year or two might be to your advantage. However, you have to watch the markets carefully and be very aware of what direction things are moving both in Westchester and where you are planning to relocate. Coordination between the two agents you will be working with is also key in this situation.

This needn’t be depressing. We just have to readjust our thinking and way of life to new circumstances. It can actually be a change for the better. Living smarter and greener is a net positive in the long run.

© 2017 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.

Please feel free to contact me anytime to request additional information or to set up an appointment so we can explore your listing or purchasing needs. I am easy to reach by phone, text or email. Or, if you just want to continue your search online, the links below will help you get started.

Phone/Text: 914-374-5529


Property Search Home Valuation Open Houses

Comments are closed.