Monthly Archives: November 2015

Where to Shop in Westchester County

From quirky and one-of-a-kind bargains to on-trend styles from the best designer boutiques in the world, the shopping enthusiast will be completely satisfied with Westchester County’s retail options.

shoppingThe Galleria at White Plains
100 Main St, White Plains

Urban and sophisticated, The Galleria at White Plains provides a variety of stylish finds for White Plain’s fashionable crowd. Famous retail brands such as H&M, Aldo, Aeropostale, and American Eagle Outfitters have boutiques in this shopping center. The Galleria is also complete with dining options to satisfy the hungry shopper. Other specialty boutiques are also found in this shopping destination.

The Westchester
125 Westchester Ave, White Plains

Located in downtown White Plains, The Westchester offers an upscale shopping experience. Take your pick among household names in the fashion industry such as BCBG Max Azria, Gap, Gucci, J. Crew, Kate Spade, Lacoste, and Louis Vuitton, among others. Athletic stores and other specialty shops such as L’Occitane, Crate & Barrel, as well as restaurants complete The Westchester experience.

Creative Trendz Design Studio
1923 Palmer Ave, Larchmont

For unique furniture, upholstery, and other interior décor, a drive to Larchmont might be worth it. Creative Trends Design Studio showcases custom furnishings as well as interior design services sure to make your home space worthy of a magazine cover or feature. Window treatments, a variety of fabrics, as well as interesting accent pieces are also available.

Tarry Market
179 North Main St, Port Chester

If you’re looking for the finest selection of local and imported artisanal products, Tarry Market is one place you should definitely check out. It’s a foodie’s paradise, a one-stop shop where you can find imported cheeses, freshly baked bread, hand-made pasta, charcuterie, and the freshest produce.

Pretty Funny Vintage
80 South Broadway, Tarrytown

Pretty Funny Vintage is one of the shopping destinations if you’re in the mood for antiquing in the Hudson Valley. Housed in a charming Victorian home built in the late 19th century, Pretty Funny Vintage offers a variety of vintage curiosities sure to catch your eye. From offbeat home décor and furnishings to vintage apparel, you’ll find yourself coming back to Pretty Funny Vintage for more great finds.


First-time Home Buyer Programs

As a first-time home buyer, there are several programs and financial assistance you can avail to help you fund your real estate purchase in Westchester County.

Family holding green paper houseHousing Action Council (HAC)

(914) 332-4144

HAC provides financial assistance programs as well as counseling for first-time home buyers. You can apply for the First Home Club savings plan which covers a 10 to 30-month savings period and up to $5,000 in down payment, or you can opt for the Front Door Program, as long as you are considered income-eligible and a current resident in Westchester County.

Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO)

(914) 428 4507

WRO provides financial assistance for low- and moderate-income people, senior citizens, minorities, as well as the mentally disabled. They offer a First Home Club assistance, Individual DevelopmentAccounts, and even counseling for first-time home buyers.

Human Development Services of Westchester (HDSW)

(914) 835 8906

One of HDSW’s main goals is to increase and preserve affordable housing in the village of Port Chester. They offer financial programs such as one-to-one homebuyer counseling and a First Home Club savings plan.

Community Housing Innovations, Inc. (CHI)

(914) 683 1010

CHI has several financial programs designed to help first-time homebuyers cover down payment, closing costs, and even rehabilitation expenses. One such program is the Westchester County Home Ownership Initiative, which offers a $25,000 grant to income-eligible first-time homebuyers interested to buy a condo, house, or cooperative within the county.

HomePath by Fannie Mae

1 800 732 6643

Under the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), popularly referred to as Fannie Mae, HomePath now offers the HomePath Buyer Ready Program, which services qualified first-time home buyers. Applicants are required to take an education course, which can lead to a 3% closing cost assistance towards your real estate purchase. To qualify for the program, you must be a

  • First-time home buyer
  • Must reside in the property within 60 days of closing
  • Property must be listed on to be considered eligible for the program


First-time home buyers living in tenant-occupied properties, as well as buyers using public funds are both considered eligible candidates by Fannie Mae.


The Nightlife in Westchester County

The night is young, and scattered all across Westchester County are nightlife joints where you can enjoy good music, well-made drinks, and great company. The following establishments come highly recommended.

Photo courtesy of BarTaco website

1 Willett Ave, Port Chester

Bartaco has several branches located in different parts of the country, but all you need is to make the trip to Port Chester to enjoy their well-loved margaritas, mojitos, and caipirinhas. The interiors of this Port Chester restaurant possesses a laidback, beach vibe further enhanced by nautical blue and whites as well as its unique light fixtures. Bartaco is a perfect place to kick back and relax in Port Chester.

Photo courtesy of Bridgeview Tavern website.


Bridgeview Tavern
226 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow

If you find yourself in Sleepy Hollow with an unquenchable thirst for some of America’s finest craft beers, Bridgeview Tavern is the place to go. Aside from a great selection of 18 beers, ales, and stouts, the bar also offers house-made sangria and seasonal specials such as warm spiced cider. Bridgeview Tavern also uses the freshest, locally grown ingredients for their menu that offers all-time American comfort food.

Photo courtesy of Chat19 website

Chat 19
19 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont

Transport yourself to the glamour of Old Hollywood as you step inside Chat 19, where you can enjoy a glass or two of the restaurant’s Lemon-Ginger Drop and Cappuccino Martini from its sleek bar. Aside from great drinks, Chat 19 is a favorite among local foodies for its great food. It’s a good place to get a nice dinner and have a cold class of Merlot afterwards. On weekends, the place is alive with the sound of music from live acts as well as DJs.

The Brazen Fox
175 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains

Photo courtesy of the Brazen Fox website.

Featuring a roomy dance floor and an upstairs bar, The Brazen Bar is a favorite among the 20- to- 30-something crowd of White Plains. Women line up for its Wednesday ladies’ night specials featuring green-apple martinis and mudslides, while guys frequent the place to enjoy a cold bottle of beer. The place is hopping every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but you’ll discover that it can also attract quite a crown on game days.

Photo courtesy of The Gnarly Vine Facebook page

Photo courtesy of The Gnarly Vine Facebook page

The Gnarly Vine

501 Main St, New Rochelle

Some say that the finest things in life are fine wine, oysters, gourmet cheese, pizza, and live music. If you’re not convinced, drop by The Gnarly Vine Wine Bar in New Rochelle and let their menu do the talking. Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or just trying things out, The Gnarly Vine and its mellow interiors will make you feel comfortable. Take it from us – this is a great place to have a date. The wine bar also hosts open mic nights.


Home Rental Rates in Westchester County

Covering an area of 450 square miles, Westchester County and its 49 municipalities lie around 35 miles north of New York City.

Due to its proximity to Manhattan, where real estate prices are sky high and vacancy rates are among the lowest, Westchester has become a preferred residential address among those who work in the big city.

Consequently, the county has a healthy housing market for both sales and rentals.

Most popular rentals

2For those who prefer renting their homes, Westchester County offers an excellent selection of properties. They include contemporary studio-type apartments and charming colonial homes.

Based on availability and popularity, the following are among the most popular rentals:

  • Apartments
  • Townhouses
  • Condos
  • Single-family residences

Apartment rentals

A low monthly rate of $725 will net you a studio-type apartment in the trendy city of Peekskill with its active artist community. The unit will have 1 bath and 247 square feet of space.

For $2,200 a month, you can move into a spacious 2-bedroom apartment in White Plains. The place has 1 full and 1 partial bathroom in 1,200 square feet of space, complete with stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave. It’s within walking distance to the downtown area.

Condo rentals

For condos, $1,750 per month gets you a unit in White Plains, with 781 square feet of space including 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom.

Higher-end units with 982 square feet of space go for $3,000 a month in Monarch at Ridge Hill in Yonkers. The unit has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, open kitchens with stainless steel appliances and stone countertops, plus amenities like a fitness center, concierge, and a shuttle to Metro North.

Home rentals

When it comes to homes for rent, $4,000 a month can get you a classic one-level ranch-style home in Pelham with 1,126 square feet of space. The home has 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, patio, and 2-car garage.

If it’s luxury you’re after, $35,000 a month opens the doors to a stunning estate in Rye, adjacent to the Westchester Country Club and a few steps away from the downtown area. It’s got around 13,000 square feet of space, 7 bedrooms, 8 full and 2-1/2 baths, a swimming pool, tennis court, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Home Rental Rates in Westchester County
For additional information on rental rates and the best rentals available in Westchester County, get in touch with the GioHomes team today.


Identifying Overpriced Homes

For many homebuyers, particularly first timers, buying a home can be quite a challenge.

While the selection of homes that might fit your criteria can be overwhelming, a second challenge might be the difficulty in pointing out which homes represent good value for your money and which ones are priced well above their actual value.

How to tell if a home is overpriced? Here are a few red flags:

  1. If the home is priced higher than other recently sold properties in the area
    The value of a home is partially dependent on the price of other homes in the neighborhood. Checking out recently sold homes in the area will give you an idea of comparable property prices.unnamed Just because you’re considering a luxury home in the middle of a modest neighborhood doesn’t necessarily mean that the home is worth significantly more. In fact, the area the property is in can bring its value down.

  3. If the home has been in the market for weeks
    Many homes are typically sold within weeks or even days after being listed. When a home sits unsold for weeks on end, it usually means just one of two things – the vendor is not 100% committed to making a move, or the home is overpriced.

  5. If the number and frequency of viewings or open houses are few and far between
    A home for sale will usually have a succession of open houses arranged by a real estate agent. If the home has not had a scheduled viewing for quite a while, or if open houses are few and far between, it could be a sign that the home is overpriced, with buyers in that area deciding that the home is not worth their attention.

  7. If the property has had extensive upgrades or customization
    A seller usually mentions the new kitchens, remodeled bathrooms, add-on decks, swimming pools, and other improvements in their home in a bid to sell quickly – or jack up the list price. As a homebuyer, you’ll have to ask yourself if you actually need these upgrades and if they add value to you as a prospective homeowner.

  9. If the price of the home doesn’t match the neighborhood it’s in
    If “location is everything” when it comes to real estate, then it follows that the more desirable the neighborhood, the higher the property prices. Busy streets, poorly-rated schools, low-income demographic areas, and limited amenities can bring down the value of a home. If you don’t mind moving into this kind of neighborhood, then the price of your home should be a lot lower than if you were buying the same kind of property in a quieter and better-heeled part of town. Otherwise, cue the red flag!

Identifying Overpriced Homes

If you want to get your money’s worth when it comes to real estate in New York’s Westchester County, contact our team today and we’ll be more than happy to help you.




Things to Do before you Move Homes

Growing up is hard to do, but moving houses is also listed as one of the most stressful events in an individual’s life. Check out this guide to help you prepare for the big move.

Four to six weeks before your scheduled moving day:

  • De-clutter, sort, and dispose – To make packing easier, allot a day to sort out your things and dispose any items you no longer need. You can hold a garage sale, donate to charities, or give your pre-loved items to friends and family.
  • Make a home inventory – This will help you keep tabs on all the belongings you’re bringing with you to your new home.
  • Hire professional movers – Book with a moving company four to six weeks before moving day, if you plan on hiring one. If you’re taking the DIY approach, consider renting a truck for all your items.
  • Transfer information – Remember to file a change of address form for certain utilities (telephone, internet, electricity, insurance, etc.) to avoid the hassle of dealing with them after your move. If you’re moving with your family, include schooling transfers.
  • Purchase packing material.



Two to three weeks before moving day

  • Start packing – Don’t forget to include your passport, property deeds, and other important items and documents.
  • Remove any perishable goods from your home – This includes perishable foods. Should you make a trip to the grocery for the remainder of your stay, limit your repurchases.
  • Confirm particulars with your moving company – If you rented a truck, then confirm with the rental company you hired for the specifics.
  • Pack an overnight bag – Stash a change of clothes or two, your toiletries, travel documents, and money in a bag and take this with you as if you’re going on a vacation. This will help you access your belongings without having to open suitcases and boxes.
  • Clean the place.


One day before your move

Double-check your packages and boxes to make sure you have everything you need. Inspect the place to see if you missed any spots to clean. Allot this day to smoothen out other transactions and just prepare for your big day.

For more information on how to prepare for moving day, the following links can prove to be helpful: