Home values surge in Greene

After a record year for home sales in Greene County in COVID-ravaged 2020, the trend continued into 2021, according to a new report.

The state Association of Realtors released data showing that from May 2020 to May 2021, home values in Greene County increased by more than 70%. Greene County Director of Economic Development and Planning Karl Heck said the spike can be attributed to high demand versus a low supply of homes.

In 2020, Greene County sold a record 903 houses, according to the Association of Realtors. Heck said the postal service reported 800 people moved to the area over the course of the last year.

As of May 2021, the median home value in the county is $332,500 — up from $195,450 from the year prior, according to the Association of Realtors.

Heck said the change could be attributed in part to the pandemic as well as with more remote workers and people leaving the New York City metropolitan area to be more spread out.

Catskill saw the biggest push, Heck said, while the mountain top continues to draw second homeowners. But the entire county appears to be drawing buyers, he said. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said 30% of the county’s housing stock is made up of second homes.

“That’s just our history. We have a huge population of weekenders, holiday people — the winter breaks or the summer vacation schedules, they’ve always relocated here,” Groden said. “But I think there’s also a push for first-timers, because a real estate agent will tell you there’s no inventory.”

Groden said the low mortgage interest rates from the Federal Reserve could also create a crunch, as people want to buy homes at the lowest possible interest rates before the reserve decides to raise them.

Heck said the demand should draw interest in new construction. Since the 2008 Great Recession, building in the county has slowed in comparison to previous decades. Heck said in the last 10 years, just 500 new units were built, while in previous decades, new builds would be closer to 3,000. But a shortage of labor could hinder new development, he said.

The interest in Greene County could also come from home buyers being priced out of Columbia and Ulster counties, Heck said. The median price in Columbia County recently reached $400,000, he said, and Dutchess County is considered the highest in the Hudson Valley.

In the long run, people buying homes in the area can stimulate the economy, Heck said. Groden added the “final mile” could be the expansion of internet access in the county, allowing more people to work remotely from the county and driving sales.

“A lot more remote workers and that kind of thing, they tend to go out to eat more and get lawn services and that kind of thing more than the average person would, so there’ll be demand, but there’s got to be somebody to do that work,” Heck said.

But the increase could also shut out certain groups of buyers, Heck said.

“Anybody, anywhere in the median income or close, it’s really difficult right now, and it’s like a lot of the labor issues that we’re having, and those kinds of jobs, so you have to have housing so that people can stay or people could come here from somewhere,” Heck said.

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