Suburban Home Sales Boom as People Move Out of N.Y.C.

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Zack Stertz and Zoe Salzman had lived in Brooklyn for 15 years. But the coronavirus made them rethink staying in their two-bedroom apartment, which they felt was too small for working from home with two young sons, especially if schools did not open for in-person classes in the fall.

So they moved to Maplewood, N.J., this summer.

“To give up living in Brooklyn and move to suburbs, we just couldn’t see ourselves there,” said Ms. Salzman, 39, a lawyer whose office is in Manhattan. “But the pandemic helped make this choice for us.”

[Home sales are soaring in the suburbs and plummeting in New York City.]

Demand for homes in New York City’s suburbs, including New Jersey, Westchester County, Connecticut and Long Island, has been surging as many companies continue to embrace remote work. Many buyers express worries about the health risks of living in packed urban neighborhoods, and want space and land that New York City often cannot provide.

A three-bedroom house in East Orange, N.J., had 97 showings, received 24 offers and went under contract for 21 percent over the $285,000 price it was listed for. Six people made offers on a $499,000 house in Valley Stream on Long Island even though they had not seen it in person (the house had been shown on a Facebook Live video).

In July, there was a 44 percent increase in home sales for the suburban counties surrounding the city when compared with numbers in 2019, according to Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. The increase was 112 percent in Westchester and 73 percent in Fairfield County, Conn.

What about the number of properties sold in Manhattan? That dropped by 56 percent when compared with last year, according to Miller Samuel.

Not in recent memory, according to officials, real estate agents and residents.

Analysts say that the trend feels like the one that drove decades of suburbanization after World War II.

Of course, people have left the city for the suburbs for decades in search of high-performing public schools.

A vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus could change the calculus, especially if city workplaces reopen.

People who leave will no longer pay personal income tax to the city, dealing a potential blow to the city’s budget, said Maria Doulis, vice president of strategy and operations at the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog.

That could hinder the city’s ability to maintain police and sanitation services, she said.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that he had no doubt that New Yorkers who left during the pandemic would eventually return.

“If you don’t think New York City is coming back,” Mr. de Blasio said, “then you don’t know New York City.”

About $12 million in funds slated for improvements to ventilation systems, bathrooms and cooling systems at Manhattan public schools is being used instead to address the city’s budget deficit, according to the Manhattan borough president. [New York Post]

Matthew Futterman writes:

It was late March, and the leaders of tennis in the United States already knew that this year’s U.S. Open would be unlike anything they had ever experienced, if they could stage it at all.

With much of the world, and especially New York City, reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, they had no idea where or when the Open might take place, or if anyone would bother to show up for an event held in the city for more than 100 years, one of its biggest and most economically important festivals.

So Mike Dowse, the newly installed chief executive of the United States Tennis Association, set up a team to determine how to carry out the event, setting in motion a grand experiment that could show what international sports, as well as New York, might be capable of while navigating the public health threat.

[Will the U.S. Open show that big events can return to New York?]

Players, who began arriving in mid-August for a smaller tournament held before the U.S. Open begins today, are mostly cloistered in a Long Island hotel, preparing to play in cavernous stadiums without spectators at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

And at the tennis center, where some 50,000 people usually pack the stadiums each day, there are few hints of the usual food, merchandising and corporate entertainment.

Dr. Bernard Camins, an infectious-diseases specialist at Mount Sinai Health Systems who advised the U.S.T.A. on its protocols, said that having athletes arrive from all over the world made staging the tournament especially complicated. Officials quickly determined that if they required a two-week quarantine period ahead of the tournament, no one would come. They decided instead to administer two tests within the first 48 hours and follow up on testing every four days.

“A living experiment, that is exactly how our eyes are viewing this,” said Dr. Andrew Wallach, chief medical officer for ambulatory care for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. “What we are going to learn from the tournaments is a little different than a football game, but we are going to learn about preparedness and testing protocols and tracing in a sporting event.”

It’s Monday — keep moving.

Dear Diary:

I was at the butcher waiting for the two sweet Italian sausages I had ordered. I turned to see a man behind me wearing a sweater that I also own.

“I own that same sweater,” I said.

“I love this sweater,” he said. “Barney’s on the Upper West Side?”

“Madison Avenue store,” I said. “Ten years ago?”

“Probably 12.”

“I wish they’d had other colors,” I said.

“I agree.”

“My wife hates the sweater.”

“Mine, too!”

“I only wear it when she’s not around,” I said. “I feel guilty about that, like I’m cheating on her.”

“Your secret’s safe with me.”


I paid for the sausages.

“That was weird, no?” I said to the man in the sweater.

“Yeah,” he said. “Pretty weird.”

— Robert Schwartz

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