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White Plains House Prices Dip Since Last Aug.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Bruce Lublin, who has spent the last decade of his 30-year real estate career heading Homerica in White Plains, said the suffering real estate industry has stranded him in New Jersey.

After raising kids in White Plains, Lublin sold his home at the beginning of the economic decline and moved in with his fiancée in New Jersey. Although the couple intended to sell the New Jersey pad and relocate to Westchester, the market decided otherwise.

"We plan to hunker down and stay until things settle down in the market. We wanted to sell her home and move back to the Larchmont area so she could have an easy commute to Manhattan," said Lublin, the president of Homerica, which primarily handles Westchester and Putnam homes. "The market is the worst it's ever been."

The median sale price of a White Plains home dropped 7.5 percent or $34,500 this quarter, which translates into a 18.2 percent plunge since last August. According to Trulia , 27 house sales were involved in calculating the $423,000 median cost of a White Plains home.

Trulia's analysis of White Plains states that home sale prices have depreciated by 9 percent during the past five years.

The general economic malaise is the main culprit, according to Lublin.

"Home buyers are still fearful of losing jobs and are holding back because they perceive prices are still declining. But, it's an extraordinary buying opportunity for people who don't own a home who want to get into the market," said Lublin, whose Homerica deals in mortgages and real estate. "Interest rates are incredible. We recently had a 2 percent for an adjustable 30-year mortgage and 3 percent for a fixed-rate mortgage. When have we ever seen these rates?"

Lublin said that in general, he thinks White Plains and Westchester are somewhat insulated from the full assault of the housing market crash because they're "such highly desirable places to live" and offer an easy commute to New York City.

Still, Lublin said it will take several years for the industry to improve because new federal regulations, including the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, has tripled the amount of time brokers must spend on mortgages, while limiting loan options and inflating mortgage costs for consumers.

"I think the government has really screwed things up royally, and I'm using kind words when I say that," said Lublin. "The government needs to unwind a lot of stuff that they've done and force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be more liberal, not more conservative, to bring the market back."

Does the 18.2 percent plunge in the median home sale price in White Plains make you nervous? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on the local real estate market? Have you tried to buy or sell a home? How successful was your purchase or sale? Email thoughts to strangle@mainstreetconnect.us and we'll include your responses in future coverage.

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