The Sarmiento Team Real Estate Blog/buying/Moving to Westchester NY- What You Need to Know

Moving to Westchester NY- What You Need to Know

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Hey there, are you thinking about moving to Westchester County? Well, before you make the move, there are a few things you should know about this beautiful area just North of New York City.

I have been living in Yonkers which is a city inside of Westchester County for the past few years and before that I lived in the Bronx, which is the county South of Westchester and North of Manhattan, so I have been in this area for a while now.

Before that however, I lived in Brooklyn and Queens, so when I moved to Westchester there were many things about this area that I just did not know.  In this blog I'm going to go over the five biggest things I wish I would have know about Westchester, especially if you are planning to buy a home here.

Getting to Know the Landscape

Now some people consider Westchester the suburbs to Manhattan but that's not necessarily true because Westchester itself has major cities like White Plains.  So if you ask someone from Westchester, if they consider themselves part of the suburbs, I would say most people would say no. 

Westchester County is made up of cities, town, villages and hamlets, which is determined by the population density of the area.   But generally speaking, Westchester County is made up of two sections, Central and Lower Westchester and Northern Westchester.

The main difference between the two is the commute to NYC. If you're a commuter, you'll want to stick to Central and Lower Westchester, which has a commute of an hour or less to Manhattan via the Metro North Train Station. But if you're looking for a more rural lifestyle, and you do not need to commute into Manhattan, then Northern Westchester might be a better fit for you.

#1 Factor in Determining Home Values

Now, here's something that makes Westchester unique.  Real estate values are primarily determined by school districts. That means homes in the same town could have a completely different value if they belong to different school districts. So make sure you are using homes in similar school districts as comparable properties when trying to figure out home values.

In fact you can have house that belongs to one town, but a different school district and a different post office!  Like a home could be in the Town of Greenburgh, with Edgemont Schools, and a Scarsdale Post Office!  Situations like this are very common in Westchester.

So when trying to figure out if homes are actually worth what the price the owners are asking, you really need to pay attention everything but especially the school district.

The Square Footage is Probably Wrong

Speaking of house hunting, here's something else you should know.  Do not rely on the square footage of a listing. 

The square footage on a listing might not be accurate. The reason being is that not all real estate agents measure square footage the same way. And it's possible that two agents could measure the same house and come up with completely different numbers. 

One agent may include finished basement or balcony space in the square footage an other may not.  So it's possible to have two homes identical in size and one agent is advertising a 1,300 square foot home and another agent could advertise it as 2,500 square feet.

Instead you want to use bedrooms and bathrooms to run your searches and then look at the photos and the square footage and try to figure out how the agent came up with the square footage number.

Westchester Has Hills Everywhere

Another thing to keep in mind when house hunting in Westchester: the topography of the area.

Westchester is known for its hills, which can make for some beautiful views, but can also make for some tricky backyard situations. If you have kids, you'll want to make sure the backyard is flat enough for them to play on.

And if you don't have kids, be aware that a house located on a steep land might be overpriced because of the difficult terrain.

Different Areas, Different Utilities

Finally, when you're looking at houses in Westchester, make sure you pay attention to what type of utilities are provided.

Lower and Central Westchester are more city-like, with water, gas, and sewer lines. But as you head further North, it's more common to find homes with well water and septic systems. If that's a dealbreaker for you and you don't want to have to deal with learning how to maintain a septic system, make sure you do your research before you start house hunting.

And there you have it!  Let us know if you need any help starting your search for a new home here in Westchester County!

The Sarmiento Sales Team

Andy, Damaris & Walter Sarmiento

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