From the Lower Hudson Journal News:
Joel Bodian wants a cozy, two-bedroom home with a tiny yard to share with his black Labrador retriever, Delilah.
The single 63-year-old self-employed mechanical engineer is finding it increasingly difficult to work in his small Brewster apartment.
“I sometimes have to a make a model out of sheet rubber, and the glue smell – you can’t do it in an apartment. In a house I can do it,” he said.
But Bodian’s search for a modest house at an affordable price in Putnam County has been a challenge in a county where the median single-family home price is $418,000, according to the most recent figures from the New York State Association of Realtors. Even though prices in Putnam have fallen in the past two years, the prices are still too high for some.
“I put a (price) cap at $200,000 – that may seem ridiculous – and it’s ridiculous to real estate agents when I say ‘up to $200,000′ and they hang up on you,” he said.
The scarcity of affordable homes is not just Bodian’s experience. First-time homebuyers in Rockland and Westchester are experiencing a similar challenge, even as home prices drop in both counties. In Westchester, where the median income for a family of two is $77,200, and in Rockland, where the median income is $67,852, families are struggling to find places they can afford.
Bob Paul is a 28-year-old system network administrator in Nanuet, where his wife also works as a teacher. They married during the summer and, after living in a cramped apartment for three years, are ready for their first home to start a family. But he said the search has been harder than they expected in a market where the median home price is $461,750, according to the New York Association of Realtors’ figures.
“The amount of money a moderate-income family would have to come up with – for a house that’s $400,000 you have to come up with $40,000 down. Who’s got that kind of money?” he said. “It’s also hard to save when you are renting. To save and rent is mission impossible.”
Norton is working to get a master’s degree in teaching from Manhattanville College and hopes to eventually purchase her first home with her husband, an electronics technician. She tried joining a first-time homebuyers program through Westchester County, but gave up when she was told there was a long waiting list to enroll.
The $720,000 median home price in Westchester County has convinced Norton she should start looking elsewhere.
“All the politicians seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouth,” she said. “They say we need to save housing, but we also need to keep property values up. We can’t keep property values inflated. The properties are really overvalued and have been for quite a while.”