As schools and offices reopen, New Yorkers envision second homes with shorter city trips


Now, as the city continues to recover from the depths of the pandemic and many workers return to the office at least part-time, the pattern of demand has changed. Buyers in the city are still urgently interested in a second home escape, but some are directing their searches to more easily accessible areas in order to keep their options open. The trend towards second homes in the suburbs surrounding New York City is potentially long-term that should be borne in mind for investors and homebuyers looking for continued upward value. the aftermath of the pandemic.

“I see people looking to Westchester as a second home destination which they haven’t in the past,” said Marcene Hedayati, broker-owner of Corcoran Legends Realty in Westchester, New York, where the cities are within an hour’s train ride from Midtown Manhattan. “They choose Westchester over the Hamptons because of the ease of travel it offers.”

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The numbers prove it. In the data collected for Mansion Global by Realtor.com, the zip codes of the top three states based on a combination of its “heat score” and price appreciation were often within an hour of the city, compared to areas further out in Long Island or upstate New York. Connecticut towns such as Southport, Norwalk and Weston topped the list, as did Westchester County’s Armonk and neighboring New Jersey areas such as Demarest.

(Mansion Global is owned by Dow Jones. Dow Jones and realtor.com are both owned by News Corp.)

“We see that [areas with a commute of] two hours or less is a winner, even an hour or less, ”said Scott Durkin, CEO of Douglas Elliman. “Regions that were not considered the ‘country’ before. New York’s Westchester, Putnam and Duchess counties on the city’s northern outskirts “exploded,” he said.

“You cannot find a house that does not sell in a few hours due to the proximity to the city”

Mr. Durkin added, “People share their time almost equally between the city and the suburbs, and we are seeing the fruits of that. “

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After the uncertainty of the past year and a half, many buyers still want the extra space and privacy that dominated sales trends during the height of the pandemic, but want to hedge their bets by positioning themselves close to the city. .

“There has been something of a change,” Ms. Hedayati said. “They’re kind of trying to play it safe, to have both residences in case they don’t want to be in town anymore, but can be close if they want. We are seeing a trend in this direction that we have never seen in the past. “

Below is a look at areas outside of town that are booming as unexpected second home destinations, and what to consider if you’re venturing into one of these markets:

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Changing priorities for second homes

Even buyers without a traditional office job have now shifted their priorities to vacation homes located closer to town.

In Rockland County, New York, home to popular neighborhoods such as Palisades and Piermont and located across the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (formerly known as Tappan Zee) over the Hudson River, “We had a famous buyer who wanted to keep his Hamptons home, but envisioned a $ 3.9 million home here so he could get in and out of town for filming and press events without spending three hours in traffic ” said Adam Blankfort, co-owner and chief technology officer at Corcoran Baer & McIntosh in Rockland County.

In some cases, buyers might even consider selling their existing vacation home when the market is hot and trading it in for something closer, in an area where prices are rising rapidly.

“We see families coming here who will keep their three bedroom apartment in town and sell their home in the Hamptons, Catskills or Vermont and buy a second home in Westchester, Putnam or Duchess so they can commute. Said Francie Malina, a Compass agent specializing in the Westchester Rivertowns. “Greenwich, Connecticut also sees a lot of people in second homes, as well as Armonk, New York, Chappaqua, Bedford, Pound Ridge. We hear a lot of people wanting to buy [in these areas] because they are above the traffic to the Jersey Shore, the Hamptons, Delaware. “

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And while lifestyle is the primary incentive in many of these moves, buyers can also trade with market trends in mind.

“I think the pandemic has made these areas a viable second home location,” said Jason Karadus, broker-owner of Corcoran Country Living, Hudson Valley. “People are realizing that this is a growing market and you can get what you pay for in the Hudson Valley. With the ease of travel and the value compared to other second home markets, the area has become extremely attractive to New Yorkers.

Buy for an uncertain journey

The prospect of returning to Manhattan offices at least part-time is currently coloring the decisions of many buyers and increasing interest in areas they once viewed as suburbs.

“People are going to work half a week in town, half a week in a second home,” said Mr. Durkin. “We now call them ‘co-primary’ residences. It is therefore very important to be near a train like Metro North.

To Darien and Rowayton, both in Fairfield County, Connecticut, “Right now everyone is trying to figure out how many days a week they’re going to be working in the city,” said Becky Munro, a Connecticut-based agent with Brown Harris. Stevens. “Even though you have to work in the city three days a week, Darien is 60 kilometers from the city. This makes this area very desirable.


And rather than commuting between New Jersey beach towns, many second home buyers are now eyeing areas easily accessible by train from their Midtown offices. “There are a lot of options in New Jersey and the drive into town is always a big draw,” said Jessica Hoff, a Century 21 agent in New Jersey. “At the top of the range, there is the county of Bergen [which includes Demarest] in North Jersey and the Westfield area, you have homes ranging from a top repairman in the range of $ 400,000 to homes up to $ 2 million or $ 3 million.

Regardless of the specific area, the trend line is clear. “Overall, most people are trying to get back to a greater normalcy and come back to the idea of ​​’I have to be some distance from town’,” Ms. Malina said. “It’s complicated how to do that – is it a second home and they keep something in the city, or do they make it their permanent home and find a way to rent or have a pied-à-terre? [in Manhattan]? There are all of these factors at play and people are stressed. “

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Prices continue to rise

Part of what drives the urgency of buyers is the chronic shortage of inventory in all areas, which has put seemingly endless upward pressure on prices, even in areas that were once considered low-cost alternatives. cost.

“In all of our regions, everything is moving at such a rapid pace and interest rates are currently at 2.5% for a 30-year mortgage, which generally fuels increased activity in the market,” said Mr. Durkin.

“We have very low inventories and our prices are up about 23% from 2019,” Ms. Munro said. “This year has been unique as we ended up selling more homes above the $ 2 million mark than below, and this is the first time I can remember this since 2008.”

In the Hudson Valley, “prices are up 20 to 40 percent overall,” said Nancy Felcetto, Brown Harris Stevens’ agent in the area.

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Although inventory is still near record lows, some of the recent buying frenzy has slowed down, meaning that fall and winter could be an opportune time for buyers to claim their rights in these markets.

“Hudson is booming, but like any market that goes so high, it has to adapt, and we are seeing it now,” Ms. Felcetto said.

As with any home purchase, the primary incentive should be lifestyle and budget, rather than an attempt to time or predict a changing market after a very unusual year.

“We have seen a slight slowdown, in the sense that we are not seeing as many multiple offers,” Ms. Hedayati said. “I think it all depends on what motivates you as a buyer. Everything indicates that the market will remain strong at this point, so it really is a personal choice, and knowing that you will have to compete with other buyers if you are going to buy a second home.

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