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Columbia County’s Real Estate Market Is Booming Upstate

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Photos courtesy of Thompson & Bender

The ripple effect of COVID-19 sends buyers to the idyllic countryside of the northern Hudson Valley in search of the perfect home sweet home.

The Hudson Valley’s real estate market is moving at a breakneck pace right now.

As our second quarter report reveals, the region is hot stuff for New York City residents who crave a permanent escape from the Big Apple. Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, many people have more flexibility than ever before when it comes to working from home. Because of this, they’re rethinking what home means – and where it should be.

For city residents who crave open air and quiet neighborhoods, Columbia County is an upstate dream. That’s why the county’s real estate market is booming like never before.

“It’s the busiest Columbia County market we’ve ever seen,” says Katherine Jennings, manager of Houlihan Lawrence in Millbrook. “Our last big surge was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but this feels more sustained because of the work-from-home and school-from-home reality that may be with us for another year or two.”

While markets across the Hudson Valley, including those in Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties, have seen significant upticks in real estate activity, the fact that Columbia County’s northern market shows similar signs proves just how attractive the return to life in the countryside is. With its rolling farmland and spacious terrain, Columbia County is just as idyllic for families who want to set down new roots as it is for couples looking for an escape from the nonstop grind of city living. Plus, with attractions like Art Omi in Ghent and Warren Street in Hudson, it offers the best of art, culture, and dining all in one place.

For Houlihan Lawrence broker Andrew Gates, who lives in Columbia County and covers territories in Columbia and Dutchess Counties and Connecticut, the allure of the region has to do not just with its natural beauty, but also with the vibrant community that exists within it.

“I’ve lived in Columbia County now for the last six years and it’s so fascinating and it’s so much fun,” he says. “There are so many good farm stands and farm-to-table restaurants and music venues. Columbia County is a low-density paradise.”

As Houlihan Lawrence’s second quarter report makes clear, Gates isn’t the only one who thinks so. During this past quarter, the county saw a 20.9 percent year-over-year jump in sales and a median sale increase of 22 percent from $250,000 to $305,000.

In terms of what’s selling, Gates notes that turn-key homes with pools do particularly well. Properties with add-ons like additional guest space, converted barns, and hiking trails are hot commodities, too, Jennings adds.

Larger houses are selling again,” she says. “Everyone had been minimizing for the past five years, but guest house spaces and separate living units on the property are very popular right now.”

Within Columbia County, Hudson remains popular as a destination for prospective homeowners. With its charming row of shops and eateries along Warren Street, not to mention its thriving collection of antique stores, it’s just as enjoyable for day trips as it is for permanent home sweet homes. Yet it’s not the only hotspot in the upper-Valley. More recently, towns like Chatham, Germantown, and Hillsdale have started to pop on the real estate scene.

Looking ahead, Gates doesn’t see the allure of home ownership in Columbia County going away any time soon.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and sold through 9/11 and the 2008/2009 crash. There’s no question that this is the most robust market we’ve ever seen,” he says. As he points out, the trend isn’t just for weekend homes, but for permanent residences as well. “The lines between weekend and primary homes have been pretty blurry and are now even blurrier. The COVID event and necessity of working remotely – and the luxury of working remotely – have created even more interest in our area as a possible permanent destination from which to live and work.”

Curious about what makes homes in Columbia County so attractive? Take a peek at this former tavern house in Kinderhook or Ben Folds’ historic department store home in Hudson to see for yourself.