Fleeing New Yorkers crush surrounding real estate markets
Angel Garcia, a single dad approved for a $ 300,000 mortgage, had high hopes in early 2020 to find a home he could afford in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Within months, New Yorkers began to flee the city and surrounding areas, seizing homes. Home prices, which were already out of reach for many, surged higher. Garcia, who oversees security at the Stamford government building, ended the year still living with his 3-year-old daughter in a Stamford rental.
“It’s so difficult with all the competition here and the prices, like they are now. They were already expensive, ”said Garcia, who has a second job as a security guard.
An influx of people settling in the state and in particular in Fairfield County, on the New York state border, was celebrated by many, including Gov. Ned Lamont, who said in his speech on State State last week that it was showing a desire for more spacious housing and an appreciation for “Connecticut values.”
But it has also made it harder for many to find affordable housing in an area that ranks among the most uneven places in the country in terms of income levels.
A shortage of affordable housing is compounded by newcomers who often buy homes quickly and with cash, said Joan Carty, CEO of the Stamford-based Housing Development Fund, a nonprofit that finances the development of affordable housing and provides loans to first-time buyers.
“We can absolutely see it. And that makes, I think, the level of inequity more glaring, ”she said.
One day at the end of last month, there were only five single-family homes for sale under $ 400,000, with the lowest price at $ 325,000, in Stamford, which measures 52 square miles (134 square kilometers ) and is considered more affordable than other communities in Fairfield County, said Tammy Felenstein, executive vice president and general sales manager at Brown Harris Stevens Connecticut LLC in Stamford.
“You hear stories, ‘Oh, this couple lost three houses. They’ve been outbid every time. And it certainly happens,” Felenstein said. She said her brokers were “dying to have stocks. “in Stamford, a place that may seem like a bargain for many New Yorkers.
In metropolitan areas across the country, residents of large cities have moved to smaller towns this year, according to Updater, a relocation technology company that has been following national moving trends during the pandemic. Connecticut saw more people entering than leaving for the first time in three years, according to Updater, who said Stamford was the number one relocation destination for New Yorkers.
Thomas Madden, director of economic development for Stamford, said that in a typical month before the pandemic, there were around $ 80 million to $ 110 million in home sales. That climbed to $ 146 million in August, $ 152 million in September and $ 157 million in November.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “Prices have gone up and sales have gone up.
Lamont, a Democrat, noted in his speech the benefits of the influx.
“There are many reasons young families and new businesses are giving us a second look and choosing Connecticut,” Lamont said, suggesting people might be drawn to schools, towns and downtowns in state that offer “some of the best and safest outdoor dining experiences in the country,” or the ability to self-quarantine in a small yard rather than a small apartment.
“Whatever the reason,” said Lamont, “tens of thousands of young families have moved to the state for the first time in a generation because they recognize and appreciate our Connecticut values.”
In the same address, he pledged to expand “his administration’s commitment to affordable housing”.
Max Reiss, the governor’s spokesperson, said that while Lamont believes that a competitive housing market is good for the state’s overall economy, he doesn’t think homeownership should be out of place. of reach due to a housing boom – and that’s why it supports funding for public housing assistance programs.
Stamford Mayor David Martin, a Democrat, said more rental options would be available soon, and he noted a push to complete construction of apartment complexes that were approved before the pandemic struck. City zoning rules require that at least 10% of all new complexes of 10 or more units be affordable.
“They are eager to build these buildings because right now it’s an attractive market. And when they come online, it will provide more affordable units, ”he said. “In fact, we’ve built more affordable units over the past five to ten years in Stamford than any other municipality in the state. “
Before the pandemic, 38% of Fairfield County residents spent more than half of their monthly income on housing, said Mendi Blue-Pace, community impact manager at the Fairfield County Community Foundation. While the current trend will likely lower the price for more potential buyers, Blue-Pace has expressed optimism that the new residents will have a positive impact.
“There is hope that there is a new set of people who can potentially be engaged in philanthropy,” she said. “We would definitely like to connect with many of these new residents who are moving into the county and may have an interest in solving social issues and taking some of their disposable income and directing it to whatever needs exist in the county. . “