From the NYT:
The listing Nadia Krivickova and Michael Krivicka had been waiting for popped up early last September: a pristine 2,500-square-foot 1924 colonial with a child-friendly backyard in the lower Westchester County village of Pelham Manor. Then living in an apartment in Manhattan, the couple (she’s an accountant, he’s a founder of Thinkmodo, which creates viral video campaigns) were in need of more space for their two toddlers. After their real estate agent, Arthur L. Scinta, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence, advised them to move quickly, they went to see the house the very next day.
By 5 p.m., they had submitted an offer for the full asking price of $942,000. The sellers wanted to give it more time. After several days, the couple raised their offer to $999,000. The sellers wanted another week. “We asked them to give us a number they would take it off the market for,” Ms. Krivickova said. “They said no.”
The couple really wanted the house. They huddled with Mr. Scinta, who analyzed recent sales prices of similar properties to help them strike a balance between a strong offer and an overzealous offer, which, if it exceeded the bank’s appraisal, could cause problems with financing.
Finally, on a Monday morning, they submitted their highest offer: $1,087,000, a full 15 percent premium. Mr. Scinta heard back that afternoon.
“Arthur called and told us there were nine other offers,” Ms. Krivickova said. “But we got it — by three or four grand.” And fortunately, the bank appraisal came in on the nose.
The bidding wars that have become the norm in New York City are now also common in select suburbs within easy commuting distance. Buyers priced out of the city are heading for the ’burbs, driving up demand and creating a more fraught buying process in close-in towns that have long enjoyed reputations for good school systems, lively downtowns and ready access to the city.
“The city is this pot of water that’s spilling over on the sides, and that excess demand is going to the suburbs,” said Jonathan Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, a New York appraisal and research firm. “It’s all being driven by the lack of affordability.”
Across Westchester, northern New Jersey, parts of Long Island and lower Fairfield County, Conn., the competition is fiercest for move-in-ready homes toward the lower end of the price scale — under $1 million in some markets, under $2 million in others — in places within a 40-minute rail commute to the city. Walking distance to a lively downtown, a train station or both heightens the appeal.
Well-priced homes in good condition in these markets often draw multiple offers within days of coming on the market. An analysis of first-quarter sales this year conducted by Miller Samuel showed the highest percentages of Westchester properties (23 percent to 44 percent) selling at or above asking price — signs of likely bidding wars — in places like Larchmont, Irvington, Bronxville, White Plains and Pelham. The average premium ranged from 1.7 percent to 4 percent, actually lower than a year ago at the same time, when buyers were paying more like 5 percent or 6 percent over the asking price.
Mr. Miller’s firm does not cover New Jersey. But there, “the housing market is looking better than it has in a very long time,” said Jeffrey Otteau, the president of the Otteau Valuation Group in East Brunswick, N.J. Among the briskest markets are Hoboken, Glen Ridge, Maplewood, Montclair and South Orange, judging by their very low levels of inventory, he added.