Memorial Day weekend has ushered in summer. Did it also usher in the overheated New York real estate market? Is buyer interest still seasonal? On June 15th, will all our affluent families decamp to their lands or homes by the sea, not to see again until Labor Day? Probably not for various reasons. This is why:
- 2021 is unlike any other year. In the wake of the disastrous COVID-induced shutdown that turned much of Manhattan into a ghost town in the spring and summer of 2020, the city’s reawakening is raising a clarion call to its true supporters wherever they’ve been: come back! With restaurants catering to a packed crowd, with movie theaters and sports and concert halls open for the time being to limited crowds, New York is feeling poised to come back to life. Another life maybe, but still. Tourists are starting to show up in Rockefeller Center, people are carrying shopping bags (suggesting they’ve been shopping!) and sidewalks are starting to get crowded. Indigenous city dwellers and people from the tri-state area want new homes in the city. Maybe bigger, maybe smaller. Maybe pieds-à-terre, maybe big enough for families, or home offices or terraces. There is a run on city apartments, contrary to what local agents have seen for years. And a change of seasons won’t stop it.
- Seasonality has become less of a feature of the New York market in recent years. Even before Covid hit, the urban housing market had grown into a year-round phenomenon. Mainly due to differing families, the idea of the “summer bachelor” alone at home during the work week while the wife and children were out in the fields seems increasingly anachronistic. In today’s world, Mom is just as likely to work as Dad, and neither is as likely to migrate to the beach all summer, despite Zoom. More and more employees are returning to their office, at least a few days a week. And with such a hot market, buyers at all levels worry about missing out, while both prices and mortgage rates remain reasonable (relatively speaking).
- The fly pendulum swings back. As early as December last year, agents in New York City began hearing from customers who wanted to return to the city. The promise of a vaccine made city dwellers across the country less anxious, and when that promise became a reality, a steady stream of committed New Yorkers wanted to get back inside. Many who had enrolled children in out-of-town schools began planning a full-time September return to both the urban school and the urban home, perhaps to the apartment or house they had left, but perhaps to some other place that is more consistent. was with a newfound sense of priorities. Palm Beach, Southampton and Greenwich may be beautiful, but with the fear of infection fading as more and more people get the vaccine, it’s becoming clearer that they’re just not New York. For true New Yorkers, nothing else is like that.
In important ways, the new controlled pandemic world will work very differently than we knew before. Part of that change will be a reduction in the seasonal nature of real estate sales. As the ability to switch between time in the office and working remotely becomes more entrenched in our life systems, many people, especially those without school-aged children, will move more freely between locations, regardless of the season. As adherence to stricter schedules declines and online marketing becomes more sophisticated, real estate buyers nationwide will shop anywhere, anytime. A quick visit to New York in July to buy a home will just become a moving part in a more fluid post-COVID living world.