Buying a Home in Westchester County

As part of growing NestEdge Realty into one of the Premier realtors for buying and selling real estate in Westchester County I spend a good deal of my time hiring and interviewing new agents.

When I am speaking to a prespective agent, who is entering the business and does not have prior Westchester County real estate experience I make it a point to share my view on the role of the real estate agent.

I often explain it this way; unlike the role of an automobile salesman, it is nearly impossible to talk one of your clients into buying a specific home. A client who is shopping for homes for sale in Chappaqua will ultimately decide to buy the house that they are most comfortable in, is zoned for the correct top rated Westchester County School District, for the right price, and in the desired condition. Unless the buyer’s needs are entirely taken into account, the buyer is extremely unlikely to buy the home. In short, the home sells itself but what the realtor is actually selling is the maximization of value and the management of the transaction.

As discussed previously, a buyers agent should perform 16 key tasks and provide his client with a generous broker commission rebate that is higher than the Redfin refund in Westchester, and that will allow the buyer to either avoid the mansion tax or reduce his or her significant closing costs.

One of the critical tasks as discussed above is making sure that the client can maximize his or her value. Value is of key importance not only because property taxes in Westchester County are amongst the highest in the country but the cost of living is high as well. There are several ways that buyers and sellers of Real estate in Westchester County can get the most for their dollar.

Broker Commission Rebate

The first way to find value when buying real estate in Westchester County is to buy a home in a top rated Westchester county school district. The towns in Westchester County that have highly rated school districts tend to hold their value in times of weak real estate markets better than those towns that have lower rated school Districts.

A second way for a buyer to find value in Westchester County is to buy a home that is in need of renovation and updating. The recent trend for home buyers in the county has been a heavy preference for buying turn key and recently renovated homes. Because of this trend, renovated and turnkey homes are trading at a higher premium and homes that are in need of significant improvements are trading for deeper discounts than they normally would. Traditionally, it has always been the case that if a home was purchased and improved the owner would earn significant equity. This is truee now than it ever has been before.

Westchester County is unique because in many towns you see high valued properties on the same street as lower valued properties. This brings us to our next way to gain value. Buying the lowest priced property on a street with significantly higher valued properties can benefit the buyer of these homes greatly. Improving a home on a street where property values are higher than the property you purchased will generally have a higher return on investment than a property surrounded by like valued properties.

The fourth way to maximize value is the old real estate adage of “Location Location Location”. In general, properties that are located near the town center, near train stations and within Walking distance of schools will hold its value more significantly during downturns then houses that are situated more remotely.

A fifth way to maximize the value is to buy a style of property that has historically always been in demand. While it may be tempting to buy a house style like a contemporary or mid-century, these types of homes have not held their value over time like a traditional colonial style home normally does.

A sixth way to maximize value on a home purchase is to take a leap and buy a home that is part of a weak market segment. This is akin to the Wall Street adage of “Buy Low, Sell High”.  As discussed in prior blog posts the high end of the Westchester real estate market is a buyer’s market at the moment. High inventory coupled with low demand has given buyers a distinct and sharp advantage as of late for higher priced homes. Buyers that bid low, stick to their number and have enough patience are being rewarded with being able to buy trophy properties at valuations not seen in many years.

Selling A Home for Low Commission in Westchester County

It is important to remember that maximizing the value is not only a concept that is important to homebuyers but it is also a concept that should be important to home sellers. There are several ways to maximize value as a home seller.

The first way to maximize value if you are selling a home in Westchester County is to keep your house up to date. As discussed above homes with updated kitchens and bathrooms are selling for higher premiums than they ever have before.

The second method for a seller to maximize value is to keep the key components of your property in good working order. This includes doing regular and preventative maintenance on heating systems, roofs, drainage systems etc. Nothing turns off home buyers more than a property that looks like there is significant deferred maintenance.

A third way for a home seller in Westchester county to maximize value is to list at the proper time during the calendar year. In towns that are heavily focused on school districts this would mean listing a home for sale in the early spring when a bulk of buyers are looking to move from Manhattan to easy commutable towns in Westchester County.

Finally, the fourth way for a seller to maximize the value is to hire a real estate agent that not only makes it a point to actively sell the home by attending showings but also one that charges a very low base commission rate and that will cut that commission if no buyers agent is present in the deal. After all, the seller has made the mortgage payments, So shouldn’t the seller be allowed to keep his or her equity?