Courtesy of Terrie O’Connor Realtors
A recent Harris poll conducted regarding how people are coping with the coronavirus pandemic found that nearly 40% of U.S. adults currently living in urban areas would consider moving to less populated areas. Even more relevant, the study concluded that 43% of urbanites, as opposed to 29% of suburbanites, were actively browsing real estate websites. In a recent presentation I attended with Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, he said “They are cautious about living in high density areas with so many people nearby.”
We have certainly been experiencing this trend in our area with many requests from those living in Manhattan and along the Gold Coast looking to rent or buy in northern NJ and southern NY states. In fact, the NY Times stated that between March 15 and April 28, moves from New York City to New Jersey saw a 38% jump. Flatrate.com quoted moves to New Jersey up 43% in early May. At Terrie O’Connor Realtors, we are talking to many urbanites anxious to leave Manhattan, many telling us their buildings are at about 20% capacity and landlords are making great concessions to try to convince tenants to stay.
Clearly, rising rents for confined spaces and health concerns are driving urbanites our way so they can stretch out in an entire home with its own backyard where children can play. With that, there is more attraction to specific features that allow buyers to picture themselves enjoying their new lifestyle in ways they may not have considered before. For example, as a result of more people now working from home, an office or “zoom room” garners great attention. In addition, features in the yard such as a pool, gardens, outdoor fireplaces and outdoor kitchens have quickly become major perks.
Health concerns are also impacting how buyers are searching for homes. The need to have the best online visuals is extremely important. Buyers are now spending the majority of their home search time online. They want to review not only still photos of a property but floor plans, aerial views of a property and 360 visuals of a home. In essence, they want to feel they have experienced every nook and cranny of a home they are interested in before ever physically stepping inside it. At Terrie O’Connor Realtors, we have even just closed on a property that the buyers had never physically seen before. This may not be the norm, but certainly we are seeing buyers only physically look at a very few properties before making an offer.
With that, the housing inventory is still very low. Homes priced correctly are often selling within days of listing with multiple offers. It is crucial buyers work closely with an agent who will keep their interests top of mind and is a skilled negotiator. The virus has clearly left an impact most heavily on those living in tight quarters without options for social distancing. And, with social distancing and the greater ability to work from home becoming a lifestyle, densely populated areas are seeing their residents exiting. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a must. Lastly, buyers need to understand the changes COVID19 has made to the purchasing process. Not only will they only physically view the very few properties they are most serious about, but the contract process, inspections and closing procedures are all being handled very differently for everyone’s safety. A qualified sales professional will be able to guide that process.
Founded in 1991, Terrie O’Connor Realtors has become a well known, full service real estate firm with 8 offices and approximately 400 sales associates throughout northern New Jersey and southern New York. As a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International, the company is part of the largest global real estate network with over 4,300 offices in over 70 countries.