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Covid and Real Estate

The market has definitely shifted due to the Covid pandemic. First, the number of foreigners relocating for employment to the United States and especially to New York has declined. Typically, the spring and summer brings many people relocating from throughout the world. They are typically relocating in time for the school year and often want to be settled by August. This year has been totally different. International travel came to a halt in the spring of 2020 and is slowly reopening from various countries to NY but with restrictions once they arrive. Most of the spring/summer rentals in Westchester have been by Americans exiting Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens or by foreigners already in the metropolitan area who haven't been called back to their home countries. Furthermore, with the world population working remotely, corporations are not sending their employees here.

With less people in the urban areas and people working at home, retail and commercial real estate have been negatively affected. Retail stores and services such as restaurants have been hit the hardest with many not reopening especially in midtown which relies on office traffic. Online buying continues to soar even as stores opened to the public in the late spring/summer. Online shopping was always popular with the millennials and the pandemic further hurt in-store shopping. A glimmer of hope is in the suburban office sector. Corporations may downsize and/or open satellite offices bringing them closer to their workforce and also with less expensive rents.

In contrast, the suburban residential sector has exploded-both in rentals and purchases. Those who could exit the urban areas were typically the affluent who had summer homes out east or upstate. Many rented a home outside the city while in many cases paying rent in Manhattan. The rental prices increased rapidly and supply dwindled with multiple bids seen on rental properties. Many people chose to escape to Florida, the Carolinas or out west. Many rented properties sight unseen and relied on Facetime when choosing a rental. In addition, the effects of the virus on people’s lives led them to speed up their decision to leave their urban digs and purchase a home. The low interest rate also shaped their decision to buy now. In some cases, buying was cheaper than renting. Prices also increased in almost all price ranges and inventory remains low in many Westchester communities. These trends are also common in other suburban markets, i.e., in New Jersey and Long Island.

2020 has definitely been a year of change for real estate in New York and beyond.

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