Not everyone can afford homes costing in the millions located in some of our more affluent communities close to the city, but in this region, a small investment in commuting time – say 15 or 20 minutes – can make all the difference in affording a million dollar lifestyle at less than half the cost.
It’s probably the same around the country as it is in the New York metropolitan area. Here, as you travel north from Manhattan into Westchester and Putnam counties, houses tend to spread out from each other and offer more bang for the buck, trees are more in evidence and there’s more sky to see.
Sometimes it takes someone else to articulate the lifestyle differences we experience that are more in the northern reaches. For the real estate agent, we are told, it also requires a different kind of communications with buyer clients who are moving from the city.
“Remember, you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling a lifestyle, you’re selling the whole community and what it offers,” we were told recently by Jason Wilson, newly appointed Vice President, Regional Director of Operations at William Raveis Real Estate when he visited our office in Yorktown Heights.
“For those who can’t afford the tonier communities within a half hour to the city, an exchange of time in commuting, say 15 or 20 additional minutes, can buy as good a lifestyle, but that requires a different kind of selling by realtors with their buyers,” he said.
“We must share with our clients that, here, we get more home for less money, and at the same time, we get all the facilities and services of the community,” he continued. “Here, there’s a bigger difference in the way we connect with our neighbors. In lower Westchester, it might be more through private clubs, while further north, it’s more through community activities, sports and the schools.
Wilson has lifestyles experience on both sides of what he calls “the big divide,” Route 287, which intersects Westchester midway. Born and raised in Yonkers, he moved to Yorktown Heights in 2002 and has lived there since, but six years ago, he took a real estate management position in Scarsdale while continuing to live in Yorktown.
“So I know the difference with the way people connect in different communities,” he said. “Here, we meet at the school football games and town pools to hang out with friends and family. South of the ‘divide’ it’s a different social setting. Here we have big, special events that bring the community together like in my town of Yorktown, for instance, we have the largest Relay for Life in Westchester, the Firefighter’s Carnival, The San Gennaro Festival, and the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival and Street Fair.
“And don’t forget, we can do apple picking right here, and when I tell people that, they think I live way upstate!” he said amusingly.
Wilson further listed great shopping as an advantage further north, with special stores like Turco’s and nearby, the largest shopping center in Westchester, Cortlandt Town Center. “We also have the convenience of multiple highway and parkway options up here,” he pointed out, “while some communities further south have only one way out of town, we have multiple options. If the Taconic is backed up, you can take 100, or 9 or 684.
“There is also the option of better parking at the train stations for either the Hudson or Harlem lines,” he said, noting that in Croton-Harmon, the waiting list for a parking space is only a year, while further south along the lines, that wait time can be as long as seven years.
Wilson emphasized that by investing some extra time in commuting, home buyers are not letting go of something, but gaining something. “They are getting a better deal on home value, mortgage cost, taxes and quality of life.
“If we go to a school football game and don’t arrive early, we’re not likely to get a seat, but we don’t mind standing because we get to hang out with our neighbors, be part of the community and support the team,” he said. “It’s the same way at the town pools or at the parks.
“And, because of the open space we have, you can truly appreciate the foliage, the snow and experience the seasons, from the leaves coming on and off the trees, to the snow on the ground. And, our snow plowing is the best. When I lived in Yonkers, you could be out of luck because most people park on the street. You would dig your car out and then be plowed back in. Here, it’s easier to get out!”
From Wilson’s point of view, however, it sounds best just to stay.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.