Real Estate

Pandemic Drives Manhattanites’ Moves to New Jersey

New Yorkers concerned about contracting coronavirus in their apartment buildings’ elevators and who have been working from home in small-but-expensive apartments are fleeing to northern New Jersey’s suburbs, according to multiple sources such as Michele Messina, real estate professional at RE/MAX Villa Realtors.

“New York City is absolutely wonderful, but if you don’t have the space, it can be difficult if you are working from home,” Messina tells New Jersey Business magazine. “If there is more than one person – and if you are all on top of each other – then you are definitely starting to fast-forward moving out of that apartment and considering a house.”

The opposite trend – moving into urban areas – was occurring two years ago, Messina recalls. But with the coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home and wary of public places, real estate professionals have recently been advertising suburbia using words such as “quiet” and “serenity.”

ShowingTime statistics reported overall that for home showings, “the Northeast Region index increased 19.6% since last year, and was up 127.7% since last month (May).”

New Jersey realtors have been permitted to show homes on a one-on-one basis throughout most of the pandemic, and open houses are often accomplished virtually. There is a limited supply of North Jersey homes on the market, and Messina is witnessing that “a property goes on the market, an open house occurs on the weekend and a best [offer is obtained] by Monday. [In one case, it was] $300,000 over asking price.”

Buyers want homes that do not require repairs or renovations, she says, and, separately, some people choose to rent entire homes for $8,000 to $10,000 a month.

Giving the uncertainties that have gripped the United States for more than three months, nobody seems to know if the flight to New Jersey is a short-term trend that will fade when Manhattan recovers, or whether it is a longer-term scenario.

For now, though, the pattern is a “trend,” with Messina saying, “I have been working the entire time [during the pandemic]. I would say right at the beginning [of it,] I started getting calls, with a lot of people recommending me to Manhattanites who were either considering coming to New Jersey or going to upstate New York.”

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