Home Sales In The Suburbs Skyrocket As Residents Flee New York City

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Homes in the suburbs are selling faster than ever before as New York City residents look to move out of the five boroughs because of the pandemic.

Real estate agent Lisa Kennedy, of Eric G. Ramsay & Associates, tells WCBS 880 homes are selling within days of going on the market in Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

“Unless your home is grossly overpriced, you are in contract in a week, maximum,” she explains. 

She pointed to one open house recently that had a line of over a dozen people waiting to see it. 

“This open house had a line of 25-feet. It was a two-bedroom home in Ronkonkoma, nothing out of this world,” Kennedy said. “It was listed for ($419,000). There were 27 offers. My person offered ($460,000) and got beat out.”

Kennedy does note, however, that appraisals have become an issue these days. 

“Appraisals are coming in short because appraisers cannot keep up to where the market is. The comps of the last two months are not comparable to the numbers and the offers we’re seeing on houses,” she explains. “So, after we go to contracts and appraisals are being done, now these appraisals are coming in short and saying, ‘Hey, this house is not worth it.’ And as a listing agent, you have to tell them, ‘Listen, I’ve had ten offers at this price.’”

Even though prices have skyrocketed, and houses are going into contract weeks faster than a year ago, Kennedy says the one thing that has not changed is buyers still wanting a house that is redone. They still don’t want to buy a fixer-upper. 

Greg David, from the news outlet The City, has also been following the trend of New Yorkers fleeing the city to the suburbs and notes that home sales and prices have been up in all suburban areas, not just Long Island. 

“According to Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers, the suburbs, as a whole, had a 44% increase in July in sales, compared with the year ago. The increase in Westchester – 112%. Fairfield County – 73%. And the brokers all say these are New Yorkers seeking to leave the city for more space because they fear another pandemic and possibly even because of the shootings and rising crime,” David explains. 

When asked what that could mean for New York City’s recovery, David suggested the move to the suburbs could take a bite out of the tax revenues.

“Conceivably, it’s going to take a bite out of the city's business community. The more people move to the suburbs, the more companies are under pressure to let workers work remotely. It's going to be difficult for the recovery, another big hurdle,” David explains.

David explains that no one knows if this move is permanent or temporary, but there has been a history of crises in New York City before where people have fled and come back soon after. Though, he doesn’t feel so confident this time around.

“I would say, as somebody who’s covered the story about New York’s ups and downs for more than 35 years, I’m very worried this time,” he said. “I think the pandemic, and the economic damage from the pandemic, could be doing more than temporary harm.”

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