The Great Migration: How The Pandemic Is Boosting Competition in The Long Island Housing Market

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New York City residents are moving to Long Island and LI residents are upgrading. (Getty Images)

The Long Island residential real estate market has bid farewell to the coronavirus-driven slump and said hello to a pandemic-inducted boom. 

After months of at-home lockdown, both New York City dwellers and Long Island natives are looking for upgraded spacious homes on the Island. Before the pandemic outbreak, for many, the home was a place to eat, sleep, and spend some family time. Today, it is everything. 

“They’re coming from Manhattan. They’re coming from Brooklyn,” said Todd Bourgard, a Hamptons real estate broker for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “What they’ve realized is that they can remotely work from home. That’s become a real viable new option for them.”

Nationwide, there was a 20.7 percent increase in existing-home sales — which includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops — between May and June of this year, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

The total home sales volume for the Hamptons market skyrocketed 34 percent from $1.4 billion in 2019 to nearly $2 billion so far in 020, according to the Town & Country Real Estate Hamptons Mid-Year 2020 Home Sales Report. 

The drastic increase is largely credited to the Village of Southampton, which had five of the nine sales above $20 million. The most common sales, however, are between $1 million and $4 million for a single-family home. 

“Most of them that are coming out here have been here before and I think they really view it as a good investment,” said Bourgard. “Many have rented, some came out for weeks at a time, vacationing out here. It’s a place they’re familiar with and love to be at.” 

The North Fork has not experienced the same increased prices as elsewhere on the Island. The East End experienced the most substantial rate of annual decline in listing inventory in at least 13 years of tracking, according to the Douglas Elliman Market Report. 

While the Hamptons have become a haven for those evacuating the city, many homebuyers who already live in Nassau and Suffolk counties are moving elsewhere on Long Island. 

The average sales price for Nassau and Suffolk grew 4.3 percent from $523,997 to $546,399, including condo and one- to three-family sales, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s Quarterly Market Report, provided by Miller Samuel Inc. appraisers and consultants.

“There are people moving up from their first-time home,” said Ann Conroy, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s Long Island Division. “There are people moving out from Queens and the city. Most of it is actual Long Islanders who intend to live on Long Island. 

“The percentage of people coming from outside of the Long Island marketplace obviously adds to the new influx of buyers but it’s not everybody,” she continued. “Everybody thinks it’s everybody coming from the city and that’s just not true.”

At the peak of the pandemic, Manhattan residents wanted to escape their close quarters — but so did everyone else. The Long Island real estate market has become a post-quarantine game of who can get the most space with the most versatility.  

“People like their space now,” said Conroy. “They like their larger homes. They’re looking for amenities in their homes. For example, an office space so that they can work without noise from the family. They like recreational things like pools; they like gyms in their houses…The home has become a little bit more of an all-purpose center.”

Unsurprisingly, condominiums on Long Island, including the Hamptons, have dropped in price and sales. 

Remarkably low interest rates are powering the higher selling prices throughout the Island. As of mid-July, rates had fallen to as low as 3.24 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage rate, according to Bankrate.com. High demand, low inventory, and an anomaly of a low interest rate make the perfect recipe to sell a home. 

“It’s very important that people evaluate their lifestyle, and where they are and where they want to be…,” said Conroy. “It’s really about the home becoming so much more important. That’s what is really driving this.”

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