The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Housing market on the rebound

Bidding wars, weekend homes and a strong rental market highlight the season

By EVE MARX 

Warmer weather, a recovering home market, changing demographics and a robust rental market have all helped our area’s real estate heat up. Realtors in the area are feeling optimistic. They say they’re busy, and that’s good.

Ghy Manning, proprietor and agent with Vincent & Whittemore in Bedford Village, said houses in the million and under range are “going like hotcakes. These are first-time homebuyers,” she said. “They’re coming from everywhere — the city, Bronxville, White Plains — and we have the inventory. What you’re getting for the money is pretty astounding.”

Christine Byrne, a Ginnel real estate agent, said as the weather gets nicer, business will continue to gain momentum. “I’m seeing first-time homebuyers, and the high end is still strong,” said Ms. Byrne this week.

According to the publication The Economist, published in Washington, D.C., the revitalization of the spring real estate market has been a long time coming. Since 2005, housing construction employment has steadily and dramatically declined, and government efforts to stimulate the housing market have been generally deemed a failure. And yet enticing signals of a durable recovery are emerging. The National Association of Home Builders’ index of builder confidence rose for a fifth consecutive month in February, to its highest level since May 2007. Sales of previously owned homes rose 4.3 percent from December to January. The housing overhang is receding. The number of homes for sale dropped 21 percent in the year to January, to just over six months of supply, or what is considered a “normal” level.


Who’s coming to town

Earl Ripling, an agent with Houlihan Lawrence in Katonah, said he is seeing young families coming out from Brooklyn to explore the Bedford/Katonah market. “They’re coming from Williamsburg, Park Slope, the progressive neighborhoods of Brooklyn,” Mr. Ripling said. “This is exciting because I believe they will bring their community ideas with them, specifically community-supported agriculture, and just a high sense of community. I think that is what attracts them to our area. I think the notion of community in general is very much the appeal of our community. I’ve met prospective buyers from out of state who feel that way.” 

Ms. Manning said that high-priced homes are attracting people coming out from Manhattan for the second-home market, which is picking up again. The location of the area is a big draw for second-home buyers. “I’ve got clients who had been looking in Stockbridge or Litchfield who decided that our area is a place you can get to in an hour,” she said.

Ms. Manning’s firm also works with investment properties. “We’re not inundated,” she said regarding that niche. “There are overseas clients.”

She said that her listing of Grand Central, a 286-acre horse property located in North Salem, currently listed at $24.9 million, has had people from around the globe looking at it. Ms. Manning believes real estate is still the best investment a person can make. “It’s something real. It’s tangible. You can live in and enjoy your investment. The financial news has been positive, and I think things will keep moving forward. Since November, it’s actually been kind of wild. There have even been some bidding wars. We haven’t seen much of those in a while.”

Nelson Salazar, an agent with Coldwell Banker Moves, said he’s seen an interesting trend of single women shoppers. “It’s a trend that I’ve read about,” he said. “Women are getting married later. There’s more professional women. They view real estate as a sound investment, and unlike decades ago, they don’t feel they have to wait to buy a house ‘together’ when it’s a good time to buy a house now.”

And that would be a turnkey house. Mr. Salazar noted that first-time homebuyers, regardless of gender, are “equally knowledgeable or not,” about how a house works. “They’re very good at whatever they do, but they don’t necessarily know about how their boiler works,” he said. “Most people prefer a house that’s done. Houses that need a lot of work tend to just sit. It’s a good market to buy. And interest rates are good.”

Ginnel’s Ms. Byrne said she is also seeing people interested in weekend homes. “I haven’t seen that in a while,” she said. “I also know of quite a few different people from the city who have small weekend homes who are selling so they can buy something bigger. Their intention is to spend more time up here.” She said she is also fielding queries about summer rentals. “Most people seem to be looking for a beautiful country house with some privacy and a nice pool.” Renting, she said, “is a way of getting to know the area. Often the summer rental client ends up buying a weekend house.”

“People are still looking for deals and they’re getting them,” said Ms. Manning. “The soft winter brought people out.


A landlord’s market?

Another sign of improvement is in a niche housing market, which is rentals. For renters, it’s a landlord’s market.

If you are considering renting, expect to pay up, Katie Durfee of Renwick Sotheby’s International Realty advised. “There are fewer houses to rent than there are interested renters,” she said at a public open house held last Sunday for her listing in Katonah, a 1911 Victorian recently gutted and tastefully updated and renovated to feel like a hip, multi-storied city loft. That home is for sale and listed at $1,075,000. If the seller doesn’t get the asking price, the house will be rented. The potential buyers Ms. Durfee envisions for the house are older couples from the area interested in downsizing, or first time buyers with children, coming out from the city.

“This house is perfect,” Ms. Durfee said. “It’s been totally done. It’s got a garden and a driveway and a wonderful front porch. It’s a five-minute walk to the train, to dining, to shops. It’s right in town, so the kids can ride their bikes to get ice cream or head over to the park.” She said she thought the magnificent master bath alone could sell the house.

Mr. Ripling said he welcomes more diversity in the neighborhoods. “I hope the community aspect of where we live will attract more single people, as well as more same- sex married couples, and diversity in general. I see nothing in the people of this community that would impart any unwelcoming signs.”

“This year was a great year, and we were blessed with this weather,” said Ms. Manning. “I hope the train keeps going in this direction. It’s been a long haul, and everybody seems a little happier these days.”




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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center;
    294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center;
    280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    


South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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March 9, 2012