COVID having effects on housing demand

Homebuyers looking to flee New York City for a suburban environment combined with a number of people putting off moving plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a build-up of housing demand in Nassau County, according to a Realtor from the area.

Linda Lugo, a vice chairperson at One Key MLS, said pent-up demand for housing in the county is currently driving up prices, and she expects it will continue to do so for some time.

Data from One Key MLS, a real estate agency based in downstate New York, shows that their monthly sales activity on Long Island was at 2,273 in June, a decline of 34 percent from June of last year. However, the numbers increased slightly from May, when just 1,853 houses were closed on.

“I have a few homeowners in Nassau County who want to sell and move out of state but they’re holding off putting their house on the market because the area they’re going to has a high rate of COVID,” Lugo said.

Coupled with that, Lugo said, some people living in the city are seeking to move to an area with fewer people amid virus transmission concerns, saying that many buyers are “tripping over themselves” to get houses. Another factor may have been a build-up of desire to sell during the 60-day shutdown that the real estate industry experienced in New York when the pandemic began.

Since the pandemic began, there has been a sharp increase in the median selling prices for residential, condo and co-op properties in Nassau County. In April, the median price was $555,500, a 10 percent increase from a year ago. The median price continued to go up in May to $581,500 before dropping to $565,000 in June.

Lugo said she is seeing a similar phenomenon in the rental market. In general, the rental market in Nassau County is small, according to Lugo, and mostly driven by short-term rentals only available for the summer. Some people, this summer, couldn’t even get a short-term rental because of the high demand.

Despite the demand in Nassau County, Lugo would not characterize the wave of people leaving New York City as a mass exodus.

“I think the prediction that people will high-tail it out of there is foolish,” Lugo said.

She said that the commercial real estate may change a bit in New York as some employers opt to have their employees work remotely. Lugo said this may be the case for some offices in Long Island as well, and if offices get sold, some may be converted into residential condos.

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Elliot Weld

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