When we spoke to local Realtors during late March, the mood was sober, as all in-person agent/client interactions had just come to a halt. And as expected, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected the housing market statewide with listings and pending sales both falling more than 65 percent in April, according the New York State Association of REALTORS. But those numbers don’t reflect everything that was happening behind the “screens” in the Hudson Valley.
“The real estate market is booming,” says Linda Lindsay, an associate broker at Paula Redmond Real Estate in Rhinebeck. “The market is more active than any other time I remember.”
With people discovering they are able to work from home, many buyers are reconsidering their lifestyles, says Lindsay. “Over the years our healthy market has relied, in part, on our desirability as a second-home community,” she explains. “Now, what was the second or country home may become the primary home; it changes what is important to buyers as they search for homes.”
Joseph W. Rand, chief creative officer at Rand Realty, based in Nanuet, saw the same flurry of activity. “Buyer demand has been surprisingly intense through the pandemic. People are buying houses sight unseen, and we’re seeing bidding wars on lots of properties.”
“Buyer demand has been surprisingly intense through the pandemic. People are buying houses sight unseen.”
— Joseph W. Rand, Rand Realty
Phase 2 of re-opening allowed real estate offices to open to the public and for Realtors to resume in-person showings. There are some new protocols, however, such as “the completion of specific screening questions as put forth by Empire State Development and the NYS Department of Health,” says Gary DiMauro, a licensed real estate broker at Gary DiMauro Real Estate, Inc., with offices in Catskill, Hudson, Tivoli, and Rhinebeck. He adds there is “the commonsense use of PPE such as face coverings, latex gloves, and booties, when appropriate, and open houses are now allowed with face coverings, but limited to one prospective buyer in the house at any given time.”
“It is suggested not to bring young children or guests to the showing inside the house,” says Lindsay. “Home owners and/or tenants must vacate the property during the showing. And we will advise our buyers not to touch anything in the house. Agents are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas like door knobs and handrails.”
“We have a lack of inventory and an abundance of buyers.”
— Judy Lancia, Houlihan Lawrence
All real estate agents we spoke to said buyers are eager to get out and see the homes they’ve viewed online. “Even with the restrictions put on us, there have been many homes with accepted offers over the past couple of weeks,” says Judy Lancia, an associate real estate broker at Houlihan Lawrence East Fishkill Brokerage. “Currently we have a lack of inventory and an abundance of buyers. We are already experiencing some bidding wars and buyers going over the asking price.”
Are NYC residents rushing to flee Gotham? “There has been a general increase in interest in the Hudson Valley from all over the country but most certainly from New York City,” says DiMauro.
“I have received numerous inquiries on [an Ulster County] property from potential buyers and other agents,” says Lancia. “All the buyers are coming from the city looking for a second home. It’s difficult to say whether or not people are rushing to get out of the city. What I personally see is they are looking for a place to escape to in the event something like this happens again.”