Home Contributors Westchester Chuck Petersheim: Pandemic fuels a new and forever changed Hudson Valley/Catskills

Chuck Petersheim: Pandemic fuels a new and forever changed Hudson Valley/Catskills

A sea change is taking firm root in the Hudson Valley-Catskills region, fueled by ex-New York City residents who fled the Covid-19 pandemic-stricken Big Apple and are now infusing “upstate” with new vitality.

The pandemic’s creative disruption is historic: It has cemented the “have laptop, will work” hybrid workplace model and continues to drive an unprecedented housing market, making the region the No. 1 beneficiary of the city’s historic exodus.

In short, this new normal represents The Rise of the Hudson Valley/Catskills, now at the epicenter of a monumental Era of Change.

This transformation is historic and long lasting — an unburstable bubble turbo-charging the economy and bringing more vibrancy to cities and towns. Tens of thousands of new residents — who just 18 months ago never had to consider such a proposition — now call the area “home.”

The economy is being propelled by vigorous injections of spending from those urban deserters. They’re paying top dollar in bidding wars for homes — and then spending locally, cash in hand, as they establish their new lives.

In Sullivan County, for instance, home sales soared in the first quarter of the year, jumping 63.3% over the same period last year, according to the Hudson Valley Gateway Association of Realtors. That’s more than triple the rate in the nation as a whole, which saw prices rise 20% during the same period. In addition, the median sale price in Sullivan jumped 35.2% in the first quarter, to $221,000 from $163,500.

We’ve seen change before. Surging migration to the region followed 9/11. In recent years, urban escapees came looking for the new “Brooklyn North” in the Kingston area.

But this transformation is different.

In greater numbers, buyers — no longer simply seeking to be “weekenders” — want homes better suited for full-time living than just places to relish Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the fresh country air. They demand the amenities they were once willing to forgo: more space, finished basements and swimming pools.

And they’re bringing their laptops, telecommuting from their new locales. They blend “work from anywhere” convenience in an uber-connected world with a bountiful new lifestyle, including enjoying outdoor activities and the region’s craft food and beverage scene. Gone forever are costly, hassle-filled commutes that trumped lifestyle and family considerations.

In short, the face masks may come off, the social distancing may disappear and it’s more and more OK to resume hugging loved ones. But the Hudson Valley/Catskills have been reborn, the beneficiary of a lifestyle and societal evolution that will power the region for decades to come.

Chuck Petersheim, the founder of Catskill Farms in Sullivan County, has built homes for 20 years. His savvy insights emerge from a grassroots perspective built from close contact with a broad cross-section of small businesses, buyers and governments. From this unique vantage point, he is an authority on Hudson Valley/Catskills migration trends, real estate, home construction, financing and land use. Learn more at TheCatskillFarms.com.

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