The trauma of the pandemic has already pushed many New Yorkers to leave the city definitively as quickly as possible, leaving many empty apartments and causing property prices to soar around the metropolis.
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" I was not ready to go, " recalls Nick Barnhorst when he meets again in February. At 41, in New York for 11 years, in love with the city, he was thinking of a move, but not for a year at least. Within a few weeks, his wife became pregnant with his third child and the coronavirus ravaged New York. Suddenly, " it has become: we must get out of here as quickly as possible ". Next week, Nick is expected to sign the deed of sale for a house in Mamaroneck, a wealthy town north of New York. " I always imagined that leaving would be a heartbreak, " says this Californian of origin, " but today, I am at the height of enthusiasm. "
Homes sold more than 20% above the posted price
Leaving for a weekend with his parents-in-law in early March in Massachusetts, a friend of Nick's made a lot more radical. He never returned to live in New York. His wife eight months pregnant, he sold his apartment and bought in Bronxville, a commune located immediately north of the Bronx district. " Nothing that makes New York New York currently works ," says Nick, because theaters, bars, cinemas, concert halls, or museums have not reopened. " So it's easier to leave her." "
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In a booming real estate market, " which leaves no room for negotiation ", Nick had to fight to find the house he was looking for. Around the popular town of Montclair, New Jersey, it is no longer rare to see houses sold more than 20% above the posted price, according to data communicated by Richard Stanton, owner of the agency Stanton Realtors . " I did not expect such a strong demand ," said the real estate agent, who does not expect the supply to catch up with demand before six months or even a year. A resident of Darien, Connecticut, said on condition of anonymity, received several calls from potential buyers while his house was not for sale. " This is the first time this has happened to me, " he says.
The telework factor
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio often compare the current situation to that which followed 9/11, the other great trauma the city has experienced, promising the same rebound. But in real estate, the repercussions of the attacks " were anecdotal, " tempers Richard Stanton.
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" After September 11, the pride of New Yorkers rather made me want to go live in New York, " says Dillon Kondor, guitarist who was then a teenager and lived in the suburbs of the metropolis. He who worked on several musicals on Broadway also took the plunge in June and left New York for an apartment in Tarrytown, in the Hudson Valley. For him, everything changed with one of the first beautiful days of spring, during a walk in Central Park, crowded, where the masks were too rare for his taste.
Returning with his wife, " one of us said: we must leave this city ". In New York, in early July, moving trucks abound during the day. In lower Manhattan, more than 5% of the apartments are vacant, unheard of for ten years that the real estate firm Miller Samuel publishes these statistics.
" There are so many unknowns "
More than 9/11, Richard Stanton compares current economic conditions to the 2003-2005 period, which had seen a wave of New Yorkers pushed out by rising rents. He also mentioned the 1970s, marked by a deterioration in public services and an increase in crime, which many of those who had the means to flee had fled.
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But this time, in addition to the coronavirus effect, " there is a heavier tendency linked to the fact that there are going to be more people who will work from home ," analyzes Richard Stanton. In many cases, " we will have a shorter week at the office ."
This movement could even bring down the real estate fever in New York and allow a new generation to settle in a city that would otherwise have been inaccessible to them, imagines the real estate agent. At first, Dillon chose to rent, so as not to leave anything out, while waiting for Broadway to restart. But he has trouble projecting himself back to New York. “ There are so many unknowns that it seems hard to imagine. "