New York City Real Estate

Advice on Buying and Renting Real Estate in Westchester County, New York

Because of the collapse of the real estate market, the prices of houses in New York are, on average, down to what they were five years ago in 2004. If you are looking to move with a family outside of the city and have good credit, a steady income with a long standing-job, you should look at buying a home in Westchester County, New York. Homes there are flooding the real estate market.

Families looking to move out of New York often look to Westchester since it is one of the best public school districts in the country—Westchester County had three schools in U.S. News and World Report's Best 100 High Schools in the country. Westchester's real estate market makes this a good time to look into buying a home in this county that is just north of the city.

Westchester had managed to stave off the collapse in the real estate market longer then the New York City, but fell late last spring. Prices of houses in Westchester, especially the more expensive areas of Westchester, are down more than the state average. These are also usually the same areas that have the best schools, since better schools mean higher property taxes and usually higher incomes. Some of theses villages include Rye, Scarsdale, and Chappaqua. The average prices for houses in these areas are still over $1 million.

Sellers, however, are willing to bargain. The market is flooded with people trying to sell their houses. This is in part because homeowners are trying to downgrade (move into less expensive houses with lower property taxes) and because there is a lack of homebuyers. According to, in the village of Scarsdale, in July 2009, there are just fewer than 500 homes for sale.

The glut of houses is not going to ease quickly. According to Case-Schiller, the company responsible for the S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Index, home prices will continue to fall for at least the next year, and possibly beyond.

There are several reasons home prices will probably continue to fall. One is that most people are in debt or just unable to take on any new debt. Additionally, many are still worried that they will not be able to pay-off mortgages in the future because they might lose their jobs or their income might be diminished in some way.

Even if one does want to buy a house, getting a loan to put down the usual 20% of the total sales price is difficult now. Lenders look at credit reports, income-to-payment ratios and debt. If you have been at a job for fewer than two years, lenders require more information about your income.

Because so many borrowers defaulted on their home loans, mortgage companies and other lenders are wary of lending any money for home purchasing, fearing that borrowers will default on the loans. Lenders gave mortgages to people who could not afford them, leading to the foreclosures and bankrupt banks we see today. Lending institutions are asking for more and more proof that borrowers will be able to pay back their mortgages to the point that some potential homebuyers are giving up on the endeavor.

If you are interested in moving to Westchester, there are sometimes rentals available. The market drop has affected rentals, as well. Generally, an apartment that rented for $1,700 six years ago is now renting for the same amount. In the areas mentioned above, one bedrooms rent in the $1,500 range, two bedrooms in the $2,000-$2,500 range and three bedrooms in the $2,500-$3,000 range. Houses rent for much more than apartments do, and apartments are harder to find. However, if you need something quickly and will be ready to buy in the near future, renting is an option.

Most people now do not have the option of buying a home. If you are someone who saved very carefully and are able to get financing, it is definitely a buyer's market, so go for it. You will be helping lenders gain confidence in future potential buyers so that those buyers can get the financing they need.

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