The market for luxury homes in the suburbs north of New York City has been red-hot during the COVID-19 pandemic, as realtors saw record-breaking numbers as eager buyers flocked en masse away from the densely crowded city.
Low inventories, highly-motivated buyers, low-interest rates, and a booming stock market created a true seller’s market, leading to record-breaking sales, specifically in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and Fairfield counties, officials said.
According to a new report from Houlihan Lawrence, “pandemic-driven changes in buyer preferences were especially prevalent in New York City buyers who now focused more on the attributes and amenities of a home and less on proximity to (the city.)”
In Westchester, luxury sales - which includes homes that sell for more than $2 million - grew by nearly 50 percent, as the overall market was boosted 11 percent. However, “ultra-luxury” homes - greater than $5 million - held relatively steady.
There were no purchases in Westchester for more than $10 million, with the highest sale of the year hitting $8.6 million.
“In Westchester, low inventory and buyers’ newfound sense of urgency contributed to a highly competitive environment, and nearly one in five luxury homes sold above the asking price,” Houlihan Lawrence officials said. “Multiple offers bid up selling prices an average of $100,000, and the majority of properties sold above asking fell within the $2 million to $2.99 million price range.”
Comparatively, in Dutchess, there were three sales of properties over $10 million, each of which sits on properties with more than 300 acres. Before 2020, officials noted that before 2020 it took more than a decade for Dutchess to reach the same number of $10 million in sales.
In Fairfield County, officials specifically cited significant gains in Darien, Rowayton, and New Canaan, though the biggest beneficiary of the COVID-19 outbreak was in Greenwich, officials said.
Luxury sales in Greenwich more than doubled in 2020, and every price bracket that is measured saw growth in sales. There were also 15 sales of homes for more than $10 million, nearing a peak in sales not seen since 2007.
“The swift pivot in buyers’ preference for more land and larger homes was partly satisfied by healthy inventory levels of homes located in Greenwich’s Back Country,” officials said. “Before the pandemic, Back Country properties were out of favor with buyers, considered too large and too far from downtown Greenwich; hence, these properties were often overlooked, leading to an accumulation of inventory.
“This spring, those attributes became what buyers desired, and these attractively priced properties that had been sitting on the market were absorbed, making Back Country the comeback story of the year.”
Anthony Cutugno, Houlihan Lawrence’s Senior Vice President of Private Brokerage said that the momentum of luxury home sales could extend into the beginning of 2021.
“Looking forward, inventory levels remain low, pended sales are strong, and momentum is likely to continue in the first half of 2021,” he said. “The hope of widespread vaccinations and a return to some sort of normalcy is within reach.
“It remains to be seen if the changes that fueled the boom of 2020 are permanent or merely a reaction to the most extraordinary circumstances,” Cutungo added. “We know with certainty that 2020 was a historic year for luxury real estate north of New York City.”
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