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story.lead_photo.caption Joyce and Anil Lilly pose in their living room with their dog Max as they move out of their Bronx apartment, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in New York. If the outbreak roars back in the city, they will not be sheltering again in the apartment. They just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

If the outbreak roars back in New York City, Anil and Joyce Lilly will not be sheltering again in their Bronx apartment. They just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley.

"We need more elbow room," said Joyce Lilly, explaining their move to Washingtonville, New York. "Because we were locked into the apartment for three months, a solid three months, I feel like I'm getting out of prison and I want to run as far away as possible."

New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home.

"There has been a big uptick from Manhattan people, no doubt about that," said Steven Domber, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties. "Number one, it's cabin fever, which is wanting to get out of an apartment and having some land if, God forbid, there's a lockdown again."

The Catskill Mountains and bucolic stretches of the valley beyond the city's northern suburbs have been longtime getaways for city residents. But agents say sales and rental activity is far above normal. Domber's sales were up almost a third year over year in June. Builder Chuck Petersheim said he took eight orders in a month, compared to his usual one-and-a-half a month.

New York City is in no danger of hollowing out any time soon, though. The upstate wave looks more like a trickle in a city of 8.3 million. With new homes in the region running from under $200,000 to more than $1 million, they are an escape hatch many cannot afford. But the spike in sales and long-term rentals shows how New Yorkers who endured the worst of the pandemic see the city as less hospitable.

"We just feel that the city will not be the city that we lived in," said Susan Cohen, who rented a home in Rhinebeck with her husband after sheltering in their Upper East Side apartment.

"For six weeks in our two-bedroom apartment, all we talked about was without a vaccine, we will never go on the subway again, we'd be hesitant to go on a bus again, we won't go to the movies. we won't go to the theater ... So what do we have for the next two years in Manhattan? And we said, 'What are we living here for?'"

County-level home sales figures from May and June still show a dip compared to last year, but agents say those figures reflect lags of one to three months between offers being accepted and closings. Agents describe recent weeks of bidding wars over homes that had been languishing on the market and new listings being snapped up fast by buyers with cash. Realtor John Murphy said some homes are selling $100,000 or more above the asking prices.

"I think this was the event that got people off the fence," said broker Gary DiMauro. "I think we also got people who were thinking about buying either a first or second home up here to actually pull the trigger."

Home hunters Tony Speciale and Jerry Marsini learned about competition recently when they walked through the front door of a home in Kingston just as their agent got a message from the seller about a cash offer from someone else.

"If we find a house that we're interested in, sitting on it more than a few days doesn't seem like a good idea," Speciale said.

The Manhattan residents, who had been looking upstate even before the pandemic, are in the process of buying a house in Kingston.

The Hudson Valley isn't the only region outside New York City experiencing a bump.

Along the Jersey Shore, there are far more buyers than homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Homes are selling above asking price and "once a thing comes on the market everyone is jumping on it," said Wendy Smith, president of Monmouth Ocean Regional Realtors. On the tip of Long Island, a preservation fund financed by a real estate transfer tax in the five East End towns was up 39% over the first half of the year, according to state Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

Extremely low mortgage rates are helping the market, as are more expansive work-from-home policies ushered in with the pandemic. Joyce Lilly is an acupuncturist, but she said her husband's ability to work remotely as an IT manager was the deciding factor in the move from Riverdale in the Bronx on Tuesday, which included his daughter, a granddaughter and a dog. Cohen just retired in January and her husband is able to work as a financial tech consultant from the house.

For music and video producer Erik Braund, moving his family of four from the Upper East Side to Saugerties has been a learning curve about how to keep his production company running some 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of his Brooklyn studio. They pounced on a fixer-upper at the start of the lockdown, but are keeping their apartment.

They might head back, but not the way things are now.

"Whenever some sort of rapid testing becomes available, we're going to reassess. We're basically reassessing our life every single day," he said, "So grateful that we were able to pull this off."

Joyce Lilly holds an elevator door as Xavier Jimenez moves belongings from her 14th floor apartment, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. If the coronavirus outbreak roars back in New York City, the Lilly family will not be sheltering again in their Bronx apartment. They just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Joyce Lilly holds an elevator door as Xavier Jimenez moves belongings from her 14th floor apartment, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. If the coronavirus outbreak roars back in New York City, the Lilly family will not be sheltering again in their Bronx apartment. They just bought a house an hour north in the Hudson Valley. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Jakob Howell, left, and Matt Brown load boxes belonging to Joyce and Anil Lilly into a moving truck, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. The Lilly's are leaving their 14th floor apartment and are moving to a town an hour's drive north, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Jakob Howell, left, and Matt Brown load boxes belonging to Joyce and Anil Lilly into a moving truck, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. The Lilly's are leaving their 14th floor apartment and are moving to a town an hour's drive north, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Joyce and Anil Lilly's 14th floor apartment overlooks other apartment buildings, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. They have bought a house an hour's drive north of the city, amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Because we were locked into the apartment for three months, a solid three months, I feel like I'm getting out of prison and I want to run as far away as possible," said Joyce. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Joyce and Anil Lilly's 14th floor apartment overlooks other apartment buildings, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. They have bought a house an hour's drive north of the city, amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Because we were locked into the apartment for three months, a solid three months, I feel like I'm getting out of prison and I want to run as far away as possible," said Joyce. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Anil Lilly, left, talks with his mover Xavier Jimenez as they stand in the Lilly's apartment, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. Anil and his wife, Joyce, are leaving the city for a home an hour's drive north, amid the coronavirus pandemic. He is an IT manager and his ability to work remotely was the deciding factor in the move. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Anil Lilly, left, talks with his mover Xavier Jimenez as they stand in the Lilly's apartment, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in The Bronx borough of New York. Anil and his wife, Joyce, are leaving the city for a home an hour's drive north, amid the coronavirus pandemic. He is an IT manager and his ability to work remotely was the deciding factor in the move. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Anil Lilly, center, holds his granddaughter Paige alongside his wife, Joyce, at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Anil Lilly, center, holds his granddaughter Paige alongside his wife, Joyce, at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Joyce Lilly, right, watches her granddaughter Paige at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Joyce Lilly, right, watches her granddaughter Paige at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Joyce Lilly, right, holds her granddaughter Paige's hand alongside her husband, Anil, and dog Max at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Joyce Lilly, right, holds her granddaughter Paige's hand alongside her husband, Anil, and dog Max at their new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
From left, Anil Lilly, granddaughter Paige, wife Joyce, and daughter Britney tour their new home, along with their dog Max, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
From left, Anil Lilly, granddaughter Paige, wife Joyce, and daughter Britney tour their new home, along with their dog Max, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Paige Lilly plays in her new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Paige Lilly plays in her new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Anil Lilly tours his new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Anil Lilly tours his new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Paige Lilly explores the yard at her family's new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Paige Lilly explores the yard at her family's new home, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washingtonville, N.Y. New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Print Headline: Ditching the city

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