Rent Or Buy? A Question For These Times.

For decades, most Westport families lived in homes they owned. This is suburbia, after all. Renters lived in places like New York City.

But times, real estate markets and financial planning have changed.

According to a story in today’s New York Times real estate section:

In a real estate market tinged with so much uncertainty, renting at more than $5,000, $8,000 or even $10,000 a month feels like a safer bet these days to a number of people who could well afford to buy in the suburban counties of Fairfield and Westchester, where median sale prices in many towns are above $1 million. Indeed, demand for high-end single-family rentals is up significantly, a trend that dovetails with a decline in sales in New York and across portions of the region.

The story includes a couple of Westport examples.

Aimee Raupp-Temple and her husband Ken Temple rented instead of buying a house when they moved here from Brooklyn Heights  3 years ago. They were testing out an unfamiliar place.

But they love Westport. They think home prices will continue to drop. So they’re renting again — in Wilton — while waiting out the market to buy here.

This Riverside Avenue house rents for $5,800 a month. Current rental listings range from $2,800 to $11,500.

Another couple — Michelle and Jeremy Fine — and their 2 young children have moved White Plains. Property taxes are much lower  here.

But they too did not want to buy in Westport until they test-drove the town.

Click here for the full Times story. If you’re a renter, we’d love to hear your thoughts; please click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile: Welcome to Westport, Temples and Fines!

(Hat tip: John Karrel)

27 responses to “Rent Or Buy? A Question For These Times.

  1. Michael Calise

    Few thing if any beat the security of owning your own home!!!

  2. This sentiment makes the phrase “location, location, location” even more important. If wanting to live in Connecticut, Westport is among a handful of well-managed towns where property values will likely be protected in the longer term. The biggest risks to our property values are 1) reduced demand for high-end homes if more corporations leave CT and 2) longer Metro North commute times coupled with new alternatives to Grand Central (e.g., Long Island railroad). On another note, these are reasons enough to vote in the State elections next month.

    • A Darcy Sledge

      Agreed – this voting cycle is very important

    • Avi-you left ine things out of your list. I am sure you will agree with me that the upcoming massive budget deficit could continue to hurt home prices especially if state income taxes are raised again and more state costs are passed down to Westport. Eventually that will increase property taxes which will help to drive our home prices down. Do not forget the Governor proposed shifting 1/3 of the teachers pension plan costs to towns and cities in. t. This alone will transfer millions and millions of dollars of additional cost to the Westport budget and property taxes would get increased.

      In addition as home values continue to decline, especially with the higher priced homes, then the value used to calculate their property tax will go down. With the current mill rate, these homes could start to pay lower property taxes. Since the higher price homes contribute more property taxes to the Westport budget, as their values decline, then the lower and middle price homes will have to make up for the shortfall in collection of property taxes.

      Net result-higher property taxes which in turn will help to accelerate the decline in home values.

      It’s inevitable. This election is so so important.

  3. The backbone of wealth is and always has been through real estate. I not only advocate owning your own home to my clients, I advocate owning more than one home. People should have a real estate portfolio.

  4. As a renter, although property taxes may figure into your rent, the new tax law cap has less impact on you.

  5. A Darcy Sledge

    If I can’t sell, should I rent? These are just some thoughts for a seller to consider:

    Cash flow and tax implications (consult your experts)
    It might be good to have someone in your house to keep an eye on it, pay utilities, etc. if your house is vacant. That assumes the seller already has a place to go. Not always the case.
    Maybe the selling market would be more robust when the lease is up
    There is wear and tear to think about
    Property management responsibilities, by seller or someone hired for the job
    As good as tenants are, they aren’t usually responsible for things like tree maintenance, shrubs, garden beds, etc. that landlord would need to keep up with. Some rental properties get really overgrown.
    A good tenant is great, a bad tenant is a nightmare
    How easy will it be to show to prospective buyers, and how will it look?
    Timing: what if a buyer comes along who loves the house, but can’t move in because there is a lease? They don’t want to buy a house with a tenant. So everything falls apart. Then the tail is wagging the dog. Timing issues can be tricky.
    Then there is the whole Show to Sell concept – ask your experts.

    Lots of things to think about! I am sure there are others. Sellers should definitely weigh the factors and consult local experts. I agree with earlier comments about buyers opting to rent – there is nothing like home ownership. It provides stability on so many levels.

  6. This is an important story because we learn from one couple that they believe home prices could DROP MORE in Westport. That has to be troubling to every home owner in Westport.

    And why? Because CT has been in a Financial Death Spiral for a few years now. With 2 massive state income tax increases, the once proud CT now has a higher state income tax than MASS. Businesses have left including GE. Our neighbors want to move out giving rise to more homes on the market. And very few people are moving into Westport due to the decline of people moving in. We are losing over 100 people per week in CT!!

    And let’s not forget the trains to NYC that take more time to get into Grand Central today, then they did 20 years ago. CT’s transportation system is broken and our roads and bridges needing major repair.

    Did you know after 2 massive tax increases that CR’s debt has grown by almost $4 BILLION. Not only do you have to pay higher state income taxes but you, the CT taxpayer are in the hook for billions and billions of dollars of more state debt!!

    So what should we do about this? It’s up to you Westport. Westport State Rep Steinberg voted for the 2 massive tax increases. Adding insult to injury he then approved extending the state worker agreement till 2027, eliminating any chance for an new Governor to begin to restructure their benefits. These workers are guaranteed 3.5% raises and now have a no layoff poIicy. His votes have gone against westport !

    Just so you know the next CT biennial budget is projected at a whopping $4.5 BILLION DEFICIT!! Another major deficit is in the way.

    In addition, Steinberg sits on the transportation committee in Hartford. Anyone see any improvement in Westport with traffic or on I-95 or Metro North? No. Instead the state added a train to Springfield MASS so CT residents could find jobs in a different state. Maddening.

    So Westport, either vote for change in Hartford and vote to save our state. If not, then you will have nobody else to blame but yourself. This is not about Trump or Washington, it’s about saving our home values and saving our state.

    The massive budget deficit is coming-home values could drop more if changes to the party in charge in Hartford is not made. Steinberg has shown he will vote the way his leadership tells him, and he must to save his position in the legislature. He has voted against westports interests for years.

    Your choice. It should be simple.

    • It is too late Bart. The ship has hit the iceberg and all you can do is look for a life boat. Investing in real estate in a state with a declining population is a risky proposition. The limit on deduction for real estate taxes only increases the risk in states like CT.

      • Michael it is never too late. Yes-CT is in a very difficult position. After 2 massive state income tax increases, the states financial issues were not resolved. CT tax payers now face a new string of new budget dedficits in the billions of dollars. And making matters worse, Governor Malloy and his democratic leaders added almost $4 BILLION of additional debt since the tax increases started.

        But it is never too late. I just spent time with a Governor from the midwest who faced similar issues. He worked hard to put the growth of his states economy as his number 1 mission and goal, and did the heavy lifting. He cut costs, cut state wasteful spending and reformed their state worker benefits. Today, that state economy is growing, he is cutting taxes and businesses from all over the world are opening offices and factories in his state.

        If CT taxpayers, if Westport tax payers want to get our state back, get CT back to the growth many of us witnesses years ago, then it can be done. It must start with changing the party in charge in Hartford.

        Let me give you an example. The Leader of the Housee in CT, controlled by the Democrats, is a union manager. Since our legislators are part time they can work and have another job. In this case, Leader Joe is a union manager. He will never, let me repeat, never work to reform the state worker benefits. He has publicly stated this in an emphatic speech in 2014.

        This Leader controls what his party does. He controls Steinberg’s votes. That is why steinberg voted for the 2 massive tax increases and voted to extend the SEBAC AGREEMENT. They needed his votes and he did what he was told.

        Westporters need to put Washington politics aside and understand the issues in CT and vote for change. This has nothing to do with Washington and Washington cannot fix CT. We must have a different party in charge of the House and Senate in CT. Democrats has proven over the last 8 years that they cannot do what is necessary to stop the Financial Death Spiral in CT. Steinberg has already shown that he will vote and continue to vote the way his leaders tell him. In addition Westport cannot elect this young man running for State Senate. That would be a disaster.

        Michael-it will take a long time to fix CT but it can be done. Massachusetts was once knows as taxachussettes but with fiscal control it is state that is booming. Unemployment is at historical lows. They are hinting at LOWERING their state income tax.

        Michael-we can all make CT prosper again. It just comes with the right vote.

        Here is one statistic probably nobody knows-there are more woman who are republican state reps in the minority in the CT House than there are woman Democrats in the CT House. More LGBT too. They are fiscally moderate/conservative and socially liberal.

        Your choice CT.

  7. We are insulated here in most of Fairfield County because we are really more a part of NYC than Hartford and the goings on there. Growing up here in Westport we only got NYC news. I knew who all the NYC mayors were and never knew a thing about Ct. NYC Real estate is swimming and the national economy is doing very well. I think we are pretty safe here.

    • Do Westport residents pay CT state income taxes? If so, then how are they insulated from Hartford ? Traveling first class on the Titanic.

      • Actually, Westport residents who commute to New York pay NY State taxes, not CT. That’s why it’s imperative to bring companies back to CT instead of scaring them away. Good jobs in Connecticut bring in tax revenue and also increase the value of our properties since demand for homes increases. This makes the gubenetorial race so important this November.

        • No matter who is elected, the crushing debt burden will remain. Anyone who moves to CT assumes that burden.

          • Michael-I believed go moved out of CT. Wish you all the best.

            But the rest of us that want to stay, should know that the debt and state worker obligations can be restructured and CT out back on a path of prosperity.

            It will not be easy but it can be done. But it will only happen if the Democrats (state worker party) are voted out from the leadership in CT with a success election in November.

  8. Because we have a pretty good wealth factor here. We are just not the same as the rest of the state. We benefit from good stock market performance as so many residents are involved in it, either as traders or investors, or through our 401ks. That’s not to say we don’t need a change in Hartford.

    • Mary-then why are Westport home prices declining? Why are people looking to rent and not purchase? Why are over 100 people per week moving out of CT?

      Westport is not immune from CT’s fiscal issues. Just wait until property taxes go up again and then say what? Just ask all those trying to sell their homes and realizing their home value has decline and declined a lot.

      • I just looked at the MLS for historic stats. We’ve steadily risen in value since 2008 and what I see in the last two years is perhaps a leveling off, certainly not a decline of any significance.

        • The decling housing market is starting to happen in NYC. While Westport low end housing market might be ok, just ask any one in Westport trying to sell a home in the upper mid range or high end. As they will tell you there are ‘No buyers’. As these homes decline in their offering prices I would expect the owners to request their homes to be revalued regarding the property taxes. It might help them sell as prices decline.

          “New York City’s pricey real estate has become a “buyers market,” new data suggests, characterized by lowball offers and a rise in the number of properties staying on the market for longer.
          The latest figures from Warburg Realty show that among higher-priced homes, New York City is in the throes of a “major shift” that reflects a cooling market, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in almost a decade.

        • The average house price in CT has not risen to the levels attained in 2009.

          • I never talked about any other town. Oh..and Zillow has never been to one house…either inside or outside. …or even driving around the neighborhood. Zillow’s opinions are worse than no opinion of value.

            • There is an arbitrage. Westport is not immune to the general decline in real estate prices in CT. And Bart is right. The huge state debt represent a lien on every piece of real estate in CT. Good luck with that.

  9. We moved to Westport because we loved the Town. We have stayed in Westport because we love the Town. We plan to stay in Westport and will vote for people who we respect and believe will address the many issues of life today in a responsible and thoughtful way.
    Don Bergmann

  10. Bart Shuldman

    RG-how high do you think Westport’s property taxes would rise, and how much lower our home values will go, if Governor Malloy or the next Governor transfers 1/3 of the Teachers Penaion plan costs to Westport? Think about how important this election is considering this is a real proposal that is circling in Hartford. The impaCT and financial decline in CT of the massive tax increases could be accelerated by this decision.

  11. Dick Lowenstein

    The word “decline” appears 16 times in this posting and the comments (including my use of the word). 11 times it is used by just one commenter. 😉

    As for the selling price of higher priced homes dropping, many of them were over-priced to start. Compare those higher asking prices with the official appraisals (which is akin to market value and related to assessed values, which is used for the Grand List) and you might see that the tax base remains pretty good.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Nice job Dick-you just insulting those that bought a home over the last decade. Nice job.

      When did you become a Real Estate economist?

      Blame the buyer and not the state (Steinberg) that is driving businesses out of CT? Blame the buyer and not the state (Steinberg) that are driving our neighbors to move away?