Limited Inventory Fuels a Hot Westchester Real Estate Market

The county’s hottest places to live just don’t have enough supply to keep pace with growing demand.

We’ve all heard the old adage that real estate is about three things: location, location, location. But in the case of Westchester County home sales over the past few years, the keyword on the lips of real estate agents hasn’t been location — it’s a far less enticing industry term known as inventory. Simply put, the hottest places to live in the county just don’t have enough housing supply to keep pace with growing demand. The result is a cut-throat, competitive market, particularly for first-time purchasers and downsizers. If you’re shopping at a higher price point, however, you needn’t worry: Luxury-level buyers will likely have the very opposite experience.
Candace Adams, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties, notes that buyers in the higher price categories can afford to be more discerning in seeking out discounts and better deals. “It’s all about price and value in the luxury market,” says Adams. “There are buyers out there, but they’re looking for true discounted prices and great value.”

So, who is fueling the continued intense demand for housing in Westchester? The most prevalent purchasers fall into either of two groups: first-time homebuyers (usually Millennials with young families) and downsizers, who are mostly Gen-Xers and baby boomers looking to simplify their lives and save money after their children grow up and leave the nest.

Many real estate agents report that they continue to see a steady stream of first-time homebuyers from New York City — most notably Manhattan and Brooklyn. “They’re people with kids who are getting to be school-age,” notes Adams. “They realize that now is the right time to move out of the city. And they don’t care about the high taxes in Westchester, as long as they are getting great schools.”

As for downsizers, most are empty nesters looking to escape the higher taxes and maintenance needs associated with holding on to large properties but still wishing to stay close to the communities they have called home. “I think the Northeast has had its blows the last several years, with empty nesters moving out, but we’re also seeing that boomerang of people coming back because their families are here, and maybe life in Florida, or Phoenix, or Tennessee isn’t what they thought it was,” says Adams. “That is helping to bolster the market.”
Adams notes that Westchester towns, cities, and villages situated along one of the three Metro-North train lines continue to be popular real estate draws. “The in-town locations are appealing to empty nesters and first-time homebuyers as well as investors,” she says. “Those homes in town that were lower priced a decade ago and would only appeal to first-time buyers, are now appealing to investors and to empty-nesters who are downsizing.”

She predicts that Port Chester will continue to see increased interest from homebuyers throughout 2018, as the town continues to develop a walkable center around the train station with new restaurants and shops. “There’s no doubt that the ‘walkability thing’ you read about is so true,” she notes. “That’s definitely a factor in the last four or five years that has become very prominent as criteria for buyers.”

Realtors were uniformly optimistic about the Westchester real estate market for 2018, noting that they couldn’t foresee any developments that would cool the intense heat of the high demand and low-inventory cycle — aside from a complete collapse in the economy. But they also identified a few challenges and opportunities on the housing front, particularly concerning the desire of buyers for new properties requiring minimal maintenance or updating, and new tax provisions.

“One challenge we have right now is the 1920s and 1930s estate properties that need to be renovated and updated,” says Adams. “They’re beautiful and nostalgic, but it does require significant investment to bring [these homes] back. People don’t want to put money into them and some don’t want to deal with it. They’d rather buy new.”

BY JOE CESARANO | Westchester Magazine | Published: 03/29/2018 | Read Full Article Here