Tag Archives: Westchester NY Homes

Westchester NY Homes

Westchester loses AAA bond rating | Pound Ridge Real Estate

  • County used reserves to pay retroactive salary increases
  •  S&P cuts Westchester rating to AA+ and it could go lower

New York’s Westchester County, home to the wealthy suburbs of Scarsdale and Bronxville, lost its AAA grade from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings after drawing down its cash reserves to cover retroactive raises given to government employees.

The county, which borders New York City to the north, had its grade cut one level by both companies Tuesday to AA+. S&P said there’s a one-in-three chance that it will downgrade the county’s bonds again in the next two years as the government contends with budget shortfalls, given how “narrow” its reserves were at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

The downgrades came ahead of the county’s planned auction of $200 million of general-obligation bonds on Thursday.

“We remain concerned over the county’s ability to sustainably align revenue and expenditures and rebuild reserves to a level consistent with that of similarly rated or higher-rated peers,” said S&P analyst Nora Wittstruck.

Westchester’s general fund balance could fall to less than 4 percent of spending at the close of fiscal 2018, about half the level of reserves the county had previously maintained, S&P said.

The new federal limit on deductions for state and local taxes and mortgage interest could further strain the county’s budget. That cap could make it harder for residents who pay the the highest property taxes in the U.S. to sell their homes, while others could challenge their real-estate tax assessments, potentially weakening Westchester’s biggest source of income.

The average property-tax bill in the county last year was $17,179, the highest in the the U.S., according to a report by Attom Data Solutions. The federal tax law changes set a $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local levies and capped the mortgage-interest deduction to loans of $750,000.

There are some signs that high property taxes and the federal shift are having an impact.

The median price of single family homes in the county dipped to $675,000 in the third-quarter of 2018, a 3.6 percent decline from the previous quarter, according to an October 11 report by Miller Samuel Inc. and and Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Luxury homes prices fell even more, with a 6.4 percent decline to $2.1 million.

Westchester is New York’s third-wealthiest county by median family income, after Nassau and Putnam and has the second-highest per-capita income after Manhattan.

The county’s new executive, George Latimer, has proposed selling parking lots in White Plains to plug a $22 million hole in his 2019 spending plan, according to the Journal News.

If the parking lot sale falls through, the county would have to cut spending, raise property taxes above the planned 2 percent increase or tap reserves again. The county’s $1.94 billion proposed budget includes $453 million in sales-tax revenue, 5 percent more than the year end-estimate of fiscal 2018, based on the expectation that the state will allow collections on Internet purchases.

“We believe the revenue forecast assumes a couple of significant risks,” Wittstruck said.

In a statement, Latimer said the downgrades weren’t a surprise.

“As we have said these past few months, the county is in serious financial stress,” Latimer said. “Regardless of the many steps we are taking to improve our footing, these problems were not created overnight and they will not be solved overnight.”

read more…


Going Off-Grid with Solar | #Waccabuc #RealEstate

Going Off-Grid With Solar

Going Off-Grid With Solar



Over the next few months I will discuss with you the topic of off-grid solar systems.  The impetus of developing these articles centers around the growing trend of individuals who desire to become less dependent on their utility grid.

There are a number of system types that can be considered when making this move toward energy independence. Some of the questions that you want to start thinking about are:

Do I want my home to be completely off-grid or do I want the ability to have grid power should the need arise?

I have already installed a grid-tied PV system on my home, can I use my existing system and still have the ability to go off-grid?

I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in a battery based system; however, I would like to plan on adding that to my future or existing PV system.  What options are there for me?

    Now that you have started to think about these questions and which of these applies mostly to your situation we can begin to understand how these relate to the different types of off-grid PV systems.

System Types

    There are a few basic types of off-grid systems to consider when evaluating the prospect of taking your home off-grid.  The types of systems are; PV-Direct, Off-grid and Hybrid.  Each of these types have different attributes that define what they are able to do.  Each serves a specific purpose and is chosen by the needs that you require.

PV-Direct System

    The PV-Direct system is this simplest of all off-grid systems.  It contains the least amount of equipment and is therefore less costly than other off-grid systems types.  Essentially the only components that are required are PV modules, disconnects/fuses/breakers, and the load.  

    The PV-Direct systems are a good consideration if you have devices which are DC powered and are remote.  These could be well-pumps, dc-fan motors or any other DC powered device.  The limitations to these systems are that they can only be powered when the solar resource is available.  This makes them unsuitable for an off-grid home, but can still be considered if your off-grid home is remote and you have a well-pump or perhaps a greenhouse which requires ventilation.

Off-Grid System

    The next type of systems is the Off-grid system.  This is the most commonly thought of because it describes a home which is completely isolated from the utility grid by choice or 

Off-Grid System

    The next type of systems is the Off-grid system.  This is the most commonly thought of because it describes a home which is completely isolated from the utility grid by choice or necessity.  These systems contain more components than the PV-Direct system and by extension more energy usability because one of the primary components is energy storage (batteries).

    Before I go further, I want to mention here that there are two types of systems that can be considered in an off-grid system.  Those may be either DC coupled or AC coupled.  I will cover both of these system types in more detail in a later article to help further explain the advantages of each and when they should be employed.

    Off-grid systems are most common for homes that are in remote locations or in areas that are too far from a utility service where the cost of running utility service would be cost prohibitive.  These circumstances are where off-grid PV systems are a great option to consider when traditionally you would need to rely on some type of fossil fuel or natural gas commodity to run a generator, which can be expensive and not environmentally friendly.

    The main components of an off-grid system are the PV modules, charge controller, battery bank, battery management, DC/AC inverter and electrical safety equipment.  You can also consider adding or keeping the aforementioned generator if the loads you wish to power require that extra boost, your batteries need an extra charge or you are really conservative and would like to have it just in-case.

read more…


Cambridge leads the way in regional housing boom | North Salem Real Estate


Eastern Massachusetts appears headed toward another housing boom that could turn out bigger than the last one as frenzied real estate activity near Boston begins to spread to outer suburbs and beyond, economists and housing specialists say.

The projection is based on trends in communities that historically have led the region’s housing market, particularly Cambridge. The red hot market there has already pushed the median price 30 percent above the pre-recession peak and housing specialists say it’s only a matter of time before other cities and towns follow.

“Traditionally, Cambridge and other areas in or near Boston are first to explode in housing prices, then it spreads to Route 128 and eventually even further out,” said Mark Hickey, an economist at CoStar Group, a real estate research firm in Boston. “Cambridge is kind of the canary in the coal mine.”

The Cambridge housing market has become so hot over the past 18 months that buyers are paying an average of 4 percent above the asking prices of sellers, according to data compiled by CoStar. By comparison, sale prices in Cambridge never exceeded average asking prices during the last decade’s housing boom — or the housing boom that accompanied the dot-com era of the 1990s, data shows.

Homes for sale in Cambridge now last only about eight days on the market before they’re snapped up by buyers, compared to the norm of 50 to 70 days during the last housing boom, according to CoStar. Even at the very peak of last decade’s housing frenzy, Cambridge homes still took more than a month to sell on average.



read more…



Home buyers have an edge in these markets | Katonah Real Estate



While many Realtors remain positive about the prospect of sales of new and existing family homes and condos for the spring season, an increase in mortgage interest rates, strict lending standards, and the gradual withdrawal of investors from many major metropolitan areas have produced a triple threat for home sellers, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “We’re already seeing some evidence in a few markets that some prices are going into negative territory,” he says. The good news for those who do qualify for a mortgage: There are still competitively priced homes for first-time buyers, Blomquist says.

Here are seven markets where existing home prices dipped — even slightly — in the first quarter, according to data released to MarketWatch by RealtyTrac:


Oklahoma City, Okla.

House prices in Oklahoma City dipped 1% year-over-year in the first quarter after a 5% fall in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to RealtyTrac. Oklahoma had an extremely cold winter. And higher health-care payments under the Affordable Care Act impacted some of her clients, says Leslie Thomas, real-estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Central Oklahoma. “I had individuals who qualified for one home, but who were not able to qualify for the same home after their insurance was adjusted,” she says. Thomas expects the market to pick up in the second quarter and has seen “multiple offers” for one property. Meanwhile, institutional investors in Oklahoma have remained steady. They accounted for 7.6% of all sales in the first quarter of 2014 versus 7.8% a year earlier.

Jacksonville, Fla.

There was a 1% annual dip in Jacksonville in the first quarter of 2014 after a 15% rise for both the third and fourth quarters of 2013, according to RealtyTrac’s sales price data, which is derived from public record sales deed data that includes all property transactions publicly recorded. “Homes are priced competitively, but we have a higher demand than inventory,” says Melanie Green, spokeswoman for the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. Green says prices for new and existing condos and single-family homes (sold through a Realtor) actually rose 2.7% on the year in the first three months of 2014. However, RealtyTrac’s median prices are based on the sales price on the deed, which includes sales not listed on “Multiple Listing Services” — the industry’s main database that also includes information available only to real estate professionals — such as third party purchases at foreclosure auction and bulk transactions between investors.

Tulsa, Okla.

Existing home prices in Tulsa fell 2% in the first quarter of 2014 after falling 3% in the third and fourth quarters of last year, according to RealtyTrac; prices there rose 6% in the second quarter of 2013. “Those statistics are fairly accurate in reflecting the market as it pertains to my experience,” says Frank Petrouskie, a Realtor in Tulsa. “I think we’ve been delayed by about six weeks for the spring selling season and I’m now seeing more houses come on the market. But the last quarter of last year was a very strange environment. There wasn’t much inventory out there but there wasn’t much demand either.” Retail investors have become more skittish in recent years and there’s a slight imbalance in market expectations, he says. “Buyers seem to be a bit more cautious and sellers seem to want a little more than the market can bear.” Institutional investors accounted for just 2.4% of all sales in the first quarter versus 10.3% a year earlier.

Greensboro-High Point, N.C.

There was an 8% drop in existing home sales in Greensboro-High Point, N.C., after a 2% rise in the fourth quarter, RealtyTrac found. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the economy,” says Tommy Camp, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Yost & Little Realty. “Some buyers say, ‘We’ve got a job, but we don’t know how secure that is.’” A slowdown in household formation has also had a negative impact on the housing market, he says; 18- to 34-year-olds account for more than half of missing households — that is, Americans who would be owning or renting a home now if prerecession economic trends had continued. But while the overall volume of sales was down 12% from January 2014 to April 2014, sales of new and existing homes sold by Realtors were up by around 5% on the year during the same period, Camp says.

Lancaster, Pa.

Home prices fell 2% in the first quarter in Lancaster after rising 2% in the fourth quarter. Institutional investors made up just 1.4% of sales in that market in the first quarter, down from 7.6% for the year-earlier period, according to RealtyTrac. Some Realtors remain more optimistic than RealtyTrac’s figures, however. “We’ve weathered the storm with less dramatic effect compared to the rest of the country,” says Susan Allison, a Realtor based in Lancaster. “We just didn’t have the same level of layoffs or unemployment or foreclosures or distressed housing,” she adds. The first quarter of the year was slow for everyone with regard to pending sales and home sales, especially with interest rates trending upward. Still, Allison says house prices sold by Realtors rose 3% in the first quarter year-over-year.

Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa.

This market had a slight 1% drop in the first quarter after a 5% rise in the fourth quarter of last year, Blomquist says; during the same period the share of houses sold by institutional investors fell to 0.6% from 7.4% a year earlier, taking a significant amount of demand out of the market. David Peers, chief operating officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty in Des Moines remains far more optimistic. “Our biggest challenge is lack of inventory with listings, he says. “That’s driving prices up a little bit and creating multiple offers on a lot of our listings.” The number of listings is around half of its usual volume, he says. “New construction has really taken off in the last six weeks now that the frost is out of the ground.”

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.

Sales prices in this area of southeast Virginia — which includes miles of waterfront properties — have wobbled over the last year, according to RealtyTrac’s data, falling 5% in the first quarter of this year after rising 3% in the fourth quarter, and falling 1% in the third quarter. “Our area has a lot of military and the government shutdown in November was really hard on us,” says Chantel Ray, a real-estate broker in Virginia Beach. “We definitely had a lot less calls all across the board. Sales were down in November and December, which then effects January and February.” However, Ray says prices have been improving since then. “With all of the factors combined, we’ve seen a slight lull in the market,” says NAMB’s Frommeyer. “However, housing starts are on the rise which will boost inventory.”



read more…




Down to Earth Farmers Markets | Cross River Realtor



Sale on Country-Style Pork Ribs + Local Honey in Ossining;
Trotta Pasta + Pie Lady & Son in Mamaroneck
+ More
April 24-30th, 2014

Onions- April-2014
What’s New and On Sale This Week

Black & White Chocolate Explosions
Back by popular demand

Meredith’s Bread

Ground Beef Jerky
one pound packages

SALE: $4.00 OFF per pound!
Reg: $26/lb; NOW $22/lb
Kiernan Farm

Pork Ribs – Country-Style
SALE: $1.50 OFF per pound

Reg: $10/lb; NOW $8.50/lb

Kiernan Farm

Wild Ramps, Ramp Pesto &
Ramp Sausage

Stone & Thistle Farm

Click on a Market to see all vendor and event details…


Mamaroneck – OPEN NOW

Saturdays thru May 3rd
9:00 am to 1:00 pm



9:00 am-1:00 pm


8:30 am-1:00 pm


9:30 am-3:00 pm


9:00 am-2:00 pm


8:30 am-2:00 pm

Spring Valley

Coming in July

Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow

8:30 am-1:00 pm

New Rochelle

8:30 am-2:30 pm

Headed to the city soon?

Visit a Down to Earth
Farmers Market in NYC!

Mother’s Day Weekend: May 10th & 11th

We’re getting ready to open four farmers markets over Mother’s Day Weekend:
Larchmont, Rye, Croton-on-Hudson, and Piermont. These openings are earlier than in years past, and to celebrate the timing with Mother’s Day, we’re hosting “Make Mom a Card!” events at the markets. We’ll have great music, too. Visit the Down to Earth Markets Calendar for full details. See you there.

Stay tuned to all market happenings via our Down to Earth Markets Facebook page
and follow us on Twitter @DowntoEarthMkts.

Welcome Back, Wild Ramps. Sure is Nice to See You.
Photo courtesy of Amy Cotler, The Locavore Way

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
– Robin Williams

And our first guest has arrived. This week, Tom Warren of Stone & Thistle Farm wrote in with the news that he’ll have ramps at our farmers markets this weekend. It will be the first time in 2014.
After a long, frigid winter, the Earth is opening back up.

Ramps are a part of the onion plant family and are also known as “wild leeks”. According to Deborah Madison in Vegetable Literacy, “they like moist, sandy soils, preferably near a stream.”
Lucky for us in the Northeast, we’ve got quite a bit of this landscape. Ramps usher in our spring. As they set the table, shortly the other guests will arrive: asparagus, nettles, fiddleheads, and garlic scapes. In most cases, these are foods from the wild. Our farmers markets are stocked by Mother Nature, as local growers and foragers bring what is available from around here, at this time.

When we eat seasonally, we get to connect with nature’s rhythm — to cherish its limited editions. We say this not in an overly precious way, but rather to celebrate what we are all given by nature. The first foods of spring are full of vibrant colors and tastes that will only be here for a short while. And that’s reason to party.

Ramp Aioli
by Stone & Thistle Farm

Serves 4


2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk from pastured hens
1/2 cup olive oil
6 ramps, whites only (reserve greens for another use – perhaps diced into scrambled eggs)
Minced Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Whisk together the juice, cayenne pepper, and yolk in a mixing bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup oil until sauce is emulsified; stir in ramps. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Enjoy.

Note: The wild foods, such as ramps, offered at Down to Earth Farmers Markets are thoughtfully foraged. In the name of a good thing, the foods are collected in a way that ensures future harvests. If you have any questions about the process, ask your favorite vendor.

Day Vendors This Week


Flourish Baking Company
Pie Lady & Son
Trotta Pasta


Hudson River Apriaries

Down to Earth Markets 173 Main Street Ossining, NY 10562 Phone: 914-923-4837

If you want to pay off a mortgage early, should you do it gradually or all at once? | Waccabuc Real Estate


Q: I am wondering what your opinion is about paying additional money toward my mortgage principal to pay off the balance early. Is it better to put extra money into paying off the mortgage, or should I invest that same money in another investment or 401(k)? I’d like to be able to either pay off the mortgage in 10 years at age 66 or have the funds available from other investments or my 401(k) to pay off at that time. — Tami

I’m often asked whether it’s better to prepay a mortgage or invest the difference. But you’ve put a fresh twist on it: You already know you want to pay off your mortgage early and are just looking for the best way to do that. With that goal in mind, you need to consider your own level of financial literacy and comfort with investing.


Putting money into your home is a simple and safe investment. You will effectively “earn” your net interest rate. So, if your mortgage interest rate is 4.5 percent, and you don’t itemize your deductions, every dollar you prepay earns an effective interest rate of 4.5 percent – a lot better than you’ll do if you keep the cash in a savings account.

The nice thing is you won’t lose any money on this investment. It’s risk-free. And you’ll be building equity in your home. Paying off your mortgage by the time you retire means you’ll reduce your living expenses just as your income is potentially diminishing.



Lawn Care Tips for Busy People | Katonah NY Homes

A beautiful home is not only achieved through stylish interior design, but also through smart lawn care. Your lawn is the first thing that people notice about your home. Keeping a clean and healthy-looking lawn demands a lot of time and maintenance that may seem like a full-time job. In the fall you will want to have a 4 stroke leaf blower, to make it easier to get rid of all those leafs. To achieve a lush green lawn, you need to commit to mowing it on a weekly basis to prevent the grass from turning yellow and dry. Lawn mowing also keeps your grass from growing too high and thwarts pests (e.g. weeds and animals such snakes and other vermin) from invading your yard.

Professionals barely have enough time to maintain even just a healthy lawn. Although we can’t add time to our busy schedules, we certainly can make smart changes to common lawn maintenance practices through these tips:

  • Know when to feed your lawn and stick to the seasonal feeding schedule. Do not feed your lawn daily so the grass will stop growing faster according to King Green Lawn Care.
  • Don’t overuse your lawn mover. Allow a healthy growth of herbs in your lawn and use an effective lawn weed killer.
  • When mowing the lawn, try to cut them a little longer and allow herbs such as thyme to grow. This makes the lawn look greener, especially during dry spells.
  • Remove hard-to-mow areas or those areas that can’t be accessed by the mower. If you want to easily maintain your lawn, especially these tricky areas, consider using gravel to give your lawn more dimensions.
  • Get a high-powered mower that can do heavier tasks for you. Look for a machine that does most of the work in a single press of a button.
  • Leave some of the cuttings, but not all of them. These will provide enough nutrients in the soil and will help the grass to grow stronger and greener.

If you are a beginner, a gardener or an individual who does not have much time taking care of your lawn, at least prioritize these three maintenance tasks:


Mortgage rates hit three-month lows as stocks dip | North Salem NY Homes


One upside to the downturn in the U.S. stock market is a sharp drop in mortgage rates. Those rates follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond and on pricing in agency mortgage-backed securities; as investors rush to the comparative safety of the bond market, yields fall and so do rates.

It’s not a perfect correlation, however, since there are other factors weighing on today’s lenders, such as new regulations.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed conforming mortgage hit 4.34 percent Friday, down from 4.50 percent just a week earlier, according to Mortgage News Daily. Lenders haven’t offered rates that low since November.

“This correction is bigger than I would have expected,” said Matthew Graham, COO of Mortgage News Daily, who points out that this week’s jobs report could send rates right back in the other direction.




December construction spending rises 0.1% | Bedford NY Real Estate


Outlays for U.S. construction projects rose 0.1% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate $930.5 billion, led by private projects, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 0.4% increase in December. Private-construction spending rose 1% in December, with a 2.6% increase for residential projects and a 0.7% decline for nonresidential projects. Meanwhile, public-construction spending fell 2.3% in December.



Case-Shiller: Home prices dipped in November | Chappaqua Homes


Home prices in November fell slightly for the first time since November 2012, as the combination of price gains earlier in 2013 and higher mortgage rates caused prices to reach a plateau, according to a leading index of housing-market activity.

The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 top cities fell 0.1% in November. A separate 10-city index also fell by 0.1%, Standard & Poor’s/Dow Jones Indices said in a statement. The 20-city index showed prices 13.8% higher than a year earlier, while the 10-city index rose 13.7%.

The company said the dip is not a reversal of the housing recovery. Prices typically dip in November and this performance was the best for any November since 2005. Seasonally adjusted, prices rose 0.9% in November.

“Beginning June 2012, we saw a steady rise in year-over-year increases, (and) November continued that trend,” said David Blitzer, head of the index committee at S&P/Dow Jones Indices.  “The Sun Belt continues to push ahead with Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa taking eight of the top nine spots.”