When the coronavirus outbreak took hold back in March of 2020, many assumed life would be temporarily upended. Fast forward a year, and we're still in pretty much the same boat.
At the same time, many cities have largely shut down in the course of the past 12 months, and New York City is no exception. And that's caused a lot of city dwellers to pick up and move to the suburbs. After all, what's the point of paying a small fortune for a cramped apartment to be near the action when all the action is canceled?
Furthermore, the shift to remote work has prompted a lot of people to leave not just New York City but cities throughout the country, seeking out larger spaces instead. But many New York City residents aren't looking to move too far away. After all, there's a chance they'll be called back to the office eventually, and many want reasonable access to the city for when nightlife opens up eventually.
It's for this reason that New York City's suburbs have seen a boom in home sales. But low inventory and inflated home prices have been a challenge for buyers and investors alike.
Suburban sales are taking off
While there's high demand for homes across the country, New York City's suburbs are sporting some of the tightest markets on record. In Westchester County, signed home contracts have exploded since January, with most sales stemming from homes priced at $1 million to $2 million. And among sales that closed this past winter, the average time from listing to going under contract shrank to two months.
Meanwhile, over in New Jersey (the northern and central part of the state are often regarded as suburban NYC), closed sales in January rose 17% despite there being nearly 44% fewer homes available on the market. Not only that, but the median sales price climbed about 20%.
Long Island's residential market is similarly squeezed thanks to an uptick in buyer demand. On the island's South Shore, there's only about a month's supply of available homes to purchase. In some areas on the island, there's an even smaller supply.
Finally, over in Fairfield County, Connecticut, towns that grappled with flat sales a year ago have seen a major uptick in recent months. And given that Fairfield is much farther away from New York City than popular suburban hubs like Greenwich and Stamford, it speaks to the extent to which homebuyers will compromise to land a home in the relative vicinity.
Of course, all of this is great news for home sellers in New York City's suburbs. But new buyers are repeatedly getting squeezed, real estate investors have very little wiggle room to scoop up houses since so few are available, and those that are listed tend to come with higher-than-ever asking prices, making house flipping a less lucrative prospect.
All told, it's a tough time to break into New York City's suburbs. Once things improve on the pandemic front and the demand for city homes increases, some suburbs could start to open up, but it may be quite some time before it's possible to really snag a bargain in those areas.