Everything you need to know about the booming upstate New York real estate market
Living outside of major US cities has become expensive but potentially lucrative for buyers and sellers. One of the hottest real estate markets in the United States right now is upstate New York, which is loosely defined as the cities and suburbs north of the New York metropolitan area. Low mortgage rates and people wanting to flee big cities for quieter, less crowded towns and neighborhoods have contributed to the boom.
The whole country has seen a real estate resurgence, with 94% of metropolitan areas experiencing double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median selling price of existing single-family homes in the United States rose 22.9% to $ 357,900, an increase of $ 66,800 from a year ago.
New York City has long had some of the highest real estate prices. As the city recovers from the pandemic, many people are looking to escape to more rural areas of the state. Here’s what you might end up paying for some of the most popular cities in upstate New York:
From the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of this year, Kingston saw a 22.5% increase in the median price of existing single-family homes to $ 338,300, the NAR reported. Glens Falls saw an 18.2% jump from the median price to $ 232,900. Elmira saw a 10.4% increase to $ 141,800.
The Escape Home spoke with realtors in upstate New York to find out what it was like to buy and sell a property during all the madness. Here’s what they had to say:
Mary Lou Pinckney, Director of Corporate Relocation for Select Sotheby’s International Realty
Q: What is the life of a real estate agent like in upstate New York like now compared to before the pandemic?
A: Life as a real estate agent in upstate New York is both very lucrative and challenging. Before the pandemic, we had a large stock and the price was right. Since the pandemic, residents of the tri-state area – New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey – have flooded the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes, wanting space, property as well as square footage. They worked and continue to work remotely and just love it.
Our markets – Saratoga Springs, Hudson, Adirondacks, Finger Lakes – have exploded so much because they were discovered. People fleeing the city have come north and found a tremendous quality of life with vibrant small towns with a lot to offer in terms of restaurants and art.
Q: What are the most active markets right now and what types of housing are people looking for?
A: The hottest cities are Hudson, Saratoga Springs, Bolton Landing, Lake Placid, and the Finger Lakes in central New York City. People are looking for open-plan homes that have a separate and quiet space for home offices, spaces for home gyms, Pelotons, etc., pools, outdoor patios, and three to four season porches. Many are looking for properties by the water or by bike, within walking distance of town.
Q: Do you see more bidding wars?
A: There are definitely bidding wars. Houses stay on the market from 24 hours to a week. I have seen the prices climb to over $ 100,000 from the asking price.
I missed at least four offers because the sellers accepted higher prices or better terms or both. For example, [buyers] forgo inspections or pay cash to evade a bank valuation.
Q: What’s the most expensive property you’ve sold recently?
A: The most expensive house I just closed was $ 3 million. We had a lot of interested parties, but the couple who bought it acted quickly, not to get into a competitive bidding situation, and they put a really big down payment with the contract.
Q: Do you see more foreign buyers?
A: We have had foreign buyers. However, they were from New York and Connecticut.
Q: Do you still hold open houses?
A: Open doors are non-existent. I think you will see less and less. People are always afraid of being in spaces that they are not sure are “safe”. We are not yet out of this pandemic, in my opinion.
Q: Do you think that sellers were pricing houses too high and buyers were willing to pay too much?
A: Yes, the sellers were pricing houses too high, and if the location was right, people were definitely paying too much. I had an ad that had multiple offers and sold way beyond demand as the location was great but the house needed a lot of work. Location is a determining factor and if the square footage is there, buyers are willing to spend more on purchase price and more on updating homes.
Q: What is your best advice to people trying to buy in this market?
A: The best advice is to hire a professional broker / agent who seriously listens to your needs and your price, who will be willing to go the extra mile and network and be proactive in finding you that special home.
Timothy Sweeney, President of Hudson Valley Catskill Region Multiple Listing Service and Owner of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Nutshell Realty
Q: How does the upstate New York real estate market look like compared to pre-pandemic levels?
A: The market we know now is similar to what happened after [the] Terrorist attacks of September 11. When September 11 happened in 2001, a wave of buyers from the New York metropolitan area flocked to the central Hudson Valley. At that time, the average selling price in Ulster County was $ 218,000. Six years later, mainly due to the migration of buyers from the New York subway, the average selling price has reached $ 303,000. The mortgage crisis of 2008 caused homes to depreciate by about 25%. When Covid-19 hit, the market had fully recovered to reach $ 300,000 plus the average selling price. The big difference between the market driven by 9/11 and the post-Covid-19 market is that the 9/11 buyer typically bought a second or weekend home. A large portion of post-Covid-19 buyers have purchased a full-time residence. The ability to work remotely has been a game-changer for real estate in the upstate market.
Q: Do you see continued low housing supply and continued price appreciation?
A: Significant development in the majority of communities in our region is not viewed favorably. When combined with the difficulty and cost of navigating planning council approvals, we will most likely see a continuation of the low inventory of existing homes. As long as this continues, home prices will experience some level of appreciation.
Q: Do you see multiple offers in your properties?
A: We are seeing many multiple offer situations. In fact, multiple offers are more the norm these days. There are also a huge number of cash buyers in the market.
Q: Is there still a need for open days?
A: Open days in our market are very rare due to the rural nature of our region. Plus, with such a hot market, open doors aren’t really necessary. New listings, if priced right, sell out within days.
Joan Roberts, Associate Real Estate Broker at Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties who focuses on the Catskills Mountains, Ulster County and other areas of New York
Q: How has the Catskills market changed since the start of the pandemic?
A: [It is always] busy in our Catskills region, but the pandemic has brought two to three times as much business. Most of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island and northern New Jersey. But Brooklyn is definitely the winner. It hasn’t really calmed down yet and now we’re gearing up for another wave.
Q: What caused this real estate boom?
A: Fear of being among too large a population and realizing that they can get away from city life in two to three hours. Many of our residents work from home and many areas of the Catskills now have all the necessary amenities: Internet, WiFi, cell service. In addition, we offer many recreational activities: Skiing. [There are] five major ski slopes in this region alone. Swimming, golf, hiking, boating, kayaking.
Q: What are the hottest cities / markets in upstate New York right now?
A: Most of Ulster County has been a hot spot, even before the pandemic. Cities like Woodstock, New York and Kingston have experienced tremendous growth. But the Middle / Western Catskills have also become very popular. The Margaretville / Roxbury areas have developed and become a tourist mecca. Home sales have led this trend and townhouse sales are finding the same popularity. There are fabulous gourmet restaurants in the Catskills, as well as delicious organic, vegan and trendy places.
Q: What are the most popular types of properties?
A: All types of homes, from cabins to log cabins. Most want at least an acre or 10. And then there are those who prefer a townhouse community where there is great amenities and full maintenance. These all sold out very quickly. In Roxbury Run Village, a townhouse community in Roxbury, NY, there are 120 units and typically 10% have been for sale at some point. We went through the inventory available during the pandemic and now maybe there was one on the market. And they sell out really fast, for cash and involving bidding wars and escalation clauses.
Q: Do properties receive multiple offers?
A: There are certainly bidding wars, many of which exceed current property values.
Q: What is your best advice for home buyers?
A: The best advice is to do your homework to find out what you want. Then get pre-approved by a credit institution or your personal investments. People are looking for quick closings. The best deals are the cash deals – no mortgage, no inspection, no appraisal. Clean and fast.