Though Westchester’s housing stock is unbelievably varied – ranging from stately mansions to trendy riverfront apartments, and from farm properties to suburban neighborhoods – communities throughout the county can all be described in one word: stable.
In 2012, home prices remained relatively constant or even edged up slightly while properties began to sell faster – sure signs of solid communities. As inventories decreased – the second quarter of 2012 found nearly a thousand fewer homes on the market – sellers once again found eager buyers, while buyers celebrated historically low mortgage rates that increased affordability.
According to a report released by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the average Westchester sales price for the second quarter was $645,208, a 20 percent increase over the previous quarter. That was comparable to the second quarter of 2011, when the average sales price was $643,907. Even more encouraging, 1,815 homes sold in the second quarter, up from 1,583 in the same time span the previous year.
Real estate figures are a bit tricky in Westchester, simply because the housing stock and the communities are so varied. But that’s good news for just about every type of buyer, allowing them to find a neighborhood that suits their needs.
In Yonkers, the fourth-largest city in New York, city living comes easily for residents. Yonkers borders the Bronx and features diverse neighborhoods with every kind of housing stock from historic Victorian mansions to new luxury apartments along the Hudson River. Trulia.com reported that the median sales price for homes in Yonkers during a two-month period in mid-2012 increased 2.6 percent from the previous year, jumping to $377,750. The popular neighborhoods Northwest Yonkers and Northeast Yonkers reported average listing prices of $269,149 and $321,813, respectively.
Those who love the country find refuge an hour north of New York City in the Bedford region of Westchester, one of the most sought-after areas in the state. Three hamlets make up the town, which dates to 1680. Much of the open land – once known for dairy farms and grand estates – has been preserved in this region.
Of course, many communities – such as Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and White Plains – offer traditional suburban living, combining leafy neighborhoods and good schools with a highly developed network of commuting options.
Affordability in Westchester County, one of the nation’s most sought-after places to live, remains a challenge, but the county has undertaken projects to create more housing. Cottage Landings in Rye, offered 18 new one-bedroom and one-bedroom-with-den condominiums in 2012 for those with incomes at or below 80 percent of the county’s median income. The one-bedroom units cost $150,000, while those with a den and a second bath sold for $165,000. The development also included four market-rate units. Similar developments are planned that will result in more affordable housing in the county.
Trivia: Bonnie Briar Country Club in Mamaroneck is 14th in the country among neighborhoods with the highest average household income – more than $400,000 per household per year. At 20th is the Murray Hill-Heathcote area in Scarsdale.