Buying a house in Westchester without sticker shock – Consider White Plains…

Bigger family with kids and a dog means a bigger home
The renting vs owning a home equation becomes complicated for move-up buyers
March 4, 2018
The blogger's reading nook...
The real estate blogger’s reading nook…
March 24, 2018

Since the new tax laws passed, buying a house in a high-tax state like New York has been filled with more uncertainty and caveats. This is particularly true if you are thinking of moving up to a large family “dream home”.

After all, the tax laws that favored home ownership were a tremendous spur to home ownership. They allowed homebuyers to afford larger homes in more upscale neighborhoods than they otherwise could have.

When buying a house in Westchester, buyers should pay attention to median prices and taxes for each town…

Cost of living in White Plains - Larchmont - IrvingtonIn a high-tax state like NY, the difference in tax rates and prices between municipalities can no longer be ignored. This is particularly true with higher-end homes. The tax code no longer cushions the blow when you purchase in a high-priced, high-tax town.

About a week ago, I posted an article about the affordability of a larger family home in Westchester . I picked White Plains because it has lower price points and taxes compared to surrounding communities.

Sometimes, when you answer one question, it brings up other questions. As a result of that blog post, a few people are asking me just how much easier White Plains is on the wallet. The easiest way for me to do this was to take the same sample home and compare it to comparable properties in two popular villages.

So,  I picked two villages, one on the Sound Shore and the other along the Hudson. These are both popular locations for larger single family homes.

Before I crunch the numbers, let me say once again: I am not an accountant. I don’t even play one on TV. Further, these numbers are based on HGMLS data from February 2018 and are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Sample White Plains home…

3800 sf home (5BR/4.5Baths)
* Asking price – $1.2 million
* Property taxes – $23,000

Downpayment, mortgage, and taxes:
20% downpayment – $240,000
Loan amount $960,000
* Taxes: $23,000/year
* ** Mortgage: $55,000/year
* ** TOTAL: $78,000/year

Median comparable home in Larchmont…

Larchmont is a very popular village in the Town of Mamaroneck that sits along the Sound Shore. Some homes (though not in this price range) have spectacular views of the Long Island Sound. It is an express stop on the Metro-North’s New Haven line. About 34 minutes to Grand Central Station by express.

3000-4500 sf homes (4+ BR)
* Median Asking Price – $2 million
* Property Taxes – $49,000

Downpayment, mortgage, and taxes:
20% downpayment – $400,000
Loan amount – $1.6 million
* Taxes: $49,000/year
* ** Mortgage: $92,000/year
* ** TOTAL: $141,000/year

The difference in the cost of living:

For this size home, it costs roughly $63,000 more per year to live in Larchmont. It’s roughly a 45% difference. Multiply that over 10 years and you’ve got a college fund for 2-3 children.

Median comparable home in Irvington…

Irvington is a very popular River Town with great shopping and spectacular views of the Hudson in many locations. There is easy access to many parks and preserves and the commute to Manhattan is very easy. About 35 minutes to Grand Central Station.

3000-4500 sf homes (4+ BR)
*Median Asking Price – $1,850,000
*Property Taxes – $52,000

Downpayment, mortgage, and taxes:
*20% downpayment – $370,000
*Loan Amount – $1,480,000
* Taxes: $52,000/year
* ** Mortgage: $85,000/year
* ** TOTAL: $137,000/year

For this size home it costs roughly $59,000 more per year to live in Irvington over White Plains. It’s roughly a 43% difference. Even though the cost of living is slightly less than that of Larchmont (2.8% less) that difference over 10 years amounts to almost $600,000.

White Plains Schools…

Schools are always a major concern for parents raising a family. Agents aren’t allowed to endorse or otherwise promote or criticize specific school systems. This is research home buyers must do for themselves. But the White Plains school system has many interesting programs an unusually rich assortment of extracurricular activities including the following:

  • A STEM enrichment opportunities from K-12.
  • A dual language program for those who are interested in a bilingual learning experience.
  • Over 40 AP and honors classes.
  • Five foreign languages.
  • Comprehensive character education including emotional and anti-bullying lessons are infused throughout all schools.
  • There are over 60 interscholastic athletic teams and more than 50 clubs at the high school.
  • Extended day and weekend learning opportunities.
  • Early college acceptances for 2018 included Yale, Cornell, MIT, Columbia and UPenn among others.
  • Additionally, the 2017 WPHS graduation rate was 96% in 2017.
  • The WPHS literary/art magazine, Roar, was one of only two schools in New York State awarded the “highest award’ from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Buying a house in Westchester – the bottom line…

The new tax laws took away a lot of the tax breaks that homeowners have become used to. The mortgage interest deduction has been reduced to cover loan amounts only up to $750,000. But even more important, is the cap on state and local taxes (SALT) deductions. These used to be unlimited. But now they cap at $10,000. This leaves nothing to soften the blow if you choose a town where the property taxes are near or above $50,000/year.

Many people feel as though they are effectively priced out of Westchester when they can’t afford the more tony villages that are so popular. But this post shows that there are large swaths of real estate in Westchester that are far more affordable.

So think about what makes the most sense. If you enjoy small villages, they are very close at hand. Many residents of White Plains do the bulk of their dining and shopping in Mamaroneck. There is also the hamlet of Hartsdale and the village of Scarsdale just to the west. It really is all just around the corner.

* Numbers rounded to the nearest thousand

**Assumes a fixed rate 30 yr loan at 4% interest with a 20% downpayment

© 2018 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.




Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018

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

1 Comment

  1. […] After all, I’ve talked enough about White Plains in the past. In a previous post, I discussed how affordable White Plains NY was. When compared to other popular local destinations. The cost of living for a single-family home is […]