New Yorkers are fueling a boom in home sales and rental activity outside of the city after the COVID-19 pandemic left them re-thinking the Big Apple’s appeal and many professionals are now able to work remotely.
More than 400,000 of Manhattan’s wealthiest residents fled the coronavirus epicenter in March to take shelter in their vacation homes or elsewhere.
Many young working professionals also made the decision to return to their hometowns amid fears the city won’t be able to bounce back to its former glory after the pandemic.
But even as New York City begins to get back on its feet, real estate brokers and agents are describing a red-hot market in the Hamptons and in picturesque towns upstate, with many house hunters wanting to escape to the suburbs.
It comes amid a slowdown in coronavirus cases in New York, which was once the worst-hit state in America, with more than 219,000 total cases and 18,803 deaths as of Wednesday.
According to a July Elliman Report, housing prices in the Hamptons soared for the second quarter due to a high demand from city dwellers.
Median sales prices for homes in The Hamptons soared for the second quarter compared to the same time last year after New York City residents rushed to snap up real estate amid the pandemic
The median sales price for a home skyrocketed to $1,080,000, up from $850,000 during the same time last year, marking a 27.1 per cent increase
The Hamptons have long been a popular destination for vacation homes for city residents, but the coronavirus pandemic has fueled a boom in sales. Pictured: The Grey Gardens house in East Hampton
The median sales price skyrocketed to $1,080,000, up from $850,000 during the same time last year, marking a 27.1 per cent increase – the highest in 13 years.
The average sales price meanwhile, rose to $2.09million, jumping by 21.1 per cent over a one-year period.
It come after many New Yorkers rushed to lock in vacation homes outside of the city ahead of the summer and then turned to purchasing property after rentals were no longer available.
Appraiser Jonathan Miller told The New York Post one anonymous renter even shelled out a staggering $2million to secure a Bridgehampton mansion from March to Labor Day.
‘There’s somewhat of a herd mentality,’ Miller said. ‘And when rentals weren’t available, sales were the next best thing.’
Steven Domber, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties said there’s been a big uptick in sales in the north from Manhattan people.
‘Number one, it’s cabin fever, which is wanting to get out of an apartment and having some land if, God forbid, there’s a lockdown again,’ he said.
Those who chose to weather the pandemic in the city are now seeing the city as less hospitable after spending months holed up in their cramped apartments.
Among them are Anil and Joyce Lilly, who just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley after riding out the worst of the lockdown in their apartment in The Bronx.
‘We need more elbow room,’ Lilly said, explaining their move to Washingtonville, New York.
‘Because we were locked into the apartment for three months, a solid three months, I feel like I’m getting out of prison and I want to run as far away as possible.’
Susan Cohen rented a home in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, with her husband after sheltering in their Upper East Side apartment.
Joyce Lilly, her granddaughter, and her husband, Anil, and dog Max at their new home, in Washingtonville, New York. The couple chose to move up north after spending months locked up in their apartment in the Bronx
Reports showed a large percentage of the city’s wealthiest residents fled to ride out the lockdown period in the suburbs or elsewhere at their vacation homes
The pandemic has also sparked fears among city residents that NYC won’t be able to return to its former glory once the pandemic is over
‘We just feel that the city will not be the city that we lived in,’ she said.
‘For six weeks in our two-bedroom apartment, all we talked about was without a vaccine, we will never go on the subway again, we’d be hesitant to go on a bus again, we won’t go to the movies, we won’t go to the theater..
‘So what do we have for the next two years in Manhattan? And we said, “What are we living here for?”‘
The Catskill Mountains and bucolic stretches of the valley beyond the city’s northern suburbs have been longtime getaways for city residents.
But agents say sales and rental activity is far above normal. Domber’s sales were up almost a third year over year in June.
Builder Chuck Petersheim said he took eight orders in a month, compared to his usual one-and-a-half a month.
The pandemic has also sparked fears for a long-term economic downturn in New York City, especially for small business owners.
A recent report by The Partnership for New York City, a not-for-profit organization that connects business leaders with local government, predicted that 76,000 small businesses will never be able to reopen in a report produced by 14 consulting firms.
‘The Borough chambers of commerce estimate that as many as a third of local small businesses will permanently close as a result of COVID-19.
Joyce and Anil Lilly’s 14th floor apartment overlooks other apartment buildings. They have bought a house an hour’s drive north of the city, amid the coronavirus pandemic
New York City has slowly begun to get back on its feet, but the strict three-month lockdown has left many rethinking its appeal
‘Most small businesses have less than three months of cash reserves, the entire length of NY PAUSE.
‘That means that funds to restart, pay back rent and buy inventory are exhausted, leaving tens of thousands of entrepreneurs at risk, particularly business owners of color,’ the report reads.
It also pointed to the loss of revenue from the 65million tourists the city relies on every year for money as a source of worry for many hotspots.
New York City is in no danger of hollowing out any time soon, though. The upstate wave looks more like a trickle in a city of 8.3million.
With new homes in the region running from under $200,000 to more than $1million, they are an escape hatch many cannot afford.
County-level home sales figures from May and June still show a dip compared to last year, but agents say those figures reflect lags of one to three months between offers being accepted and closings.
Agents describe recent weeks of bidding wars over homes that had been languishing on the market and new listings being snapped up fast by buyers with cash.
Realtor John Murphy said some homes are selling $100,000 or more above the asking prices.
‘I think this was the event that got people off the fence,’ said broker Gary DiMauro. ‘I think we also got people who were thinking about buying either a first or second home up here to actually pull the trigger.’