A watchful eye has been trained on Long Island home prices for well over a year now, as we continued to see record highs in sales prices while inventory remained at historic lows through various phases of the pandemic. In mid-November, only weeks after headlines were touting the 20-year highs for median home sales prices across the island, OneKey MLS numbers showed that there had been month-on-month declines in September and again in October. And the whispers, or louder, began.
Was the market softening? Was the reopening of businesses in New York City slowing the exodus that had been occurring since March 2020? What was happening?
Yes, the wave of Manhattan residents flocking to Long Island, which drove real estate prices in Nassau and Suffolk Counties to those dizzying heights, has slowed. But in its wake, say Nicholas Colombos and Angela Dooley of The Colombos-Dooley Team at Compass Real Estate, comes a new appreciation of the Long Island market and a mentality that has buyers looking at homes here in a new light.
“On Long Island, when you compare it to the city, we have space, we have large yards for your family to utilize, we have an abundance of square footage when compared to the city,” says Colombos. “So that’s why you saw everyone move out of the city during COVID and are continuing to do so—not so much, but they are continuing—and understanding the value of space.
“Now, if you compare that nationally, yes, other places have space, but let’s face it,” he adds with a knowing smile, “there’s nothing like New York. The epicenter of the world, that’s what I think.”
He is not alone in that belief, of course. Access to the Big Apple has always been a big draw for Long Islanders, but now it seems that longtime city dwellers are discovering that they can have their apple and eat it, too. Or something to that effect.
“People are realizing that Long Island is not far from Manhattan. As long as you’re near a railroad, you don’t have that problem,” Colombos continues. “So you can hop on a train and be there in 28 minutes or 40 minutes. There are those who believe in the city and won’t move out of the city no matter what. That’s understandable. But once you have a taste of Long Island, all you need is that small taste, and you do realize you’re not far from a cosmopolitan city.”
“As a result of the pandemic, Long Island is the answer for many people for many things,” Dooley says. “They want to be able to breathe, they don’t want to be on top of each other, and yet they need to work in the city, so there’s really a very simple solution, especially for the young families who couldn’t spread themselves out in the city. This was just the natural progression.
“It is the natural progression most of the time for young families anyway,” she continues. “They start in Manhattan and they eventually progress out here. COVID just expedited that for many, many, many families and they made that transition much sooner than they anticipated. And most are very, very happy with it.”
How could they not be? “Long Island offers everything—beaches, shopping, fine restaurants, beautiful homes,” Dooley says. “And let’s not neglect the outstanding school systems. They’re nationally rated, especially on the North Shore. Your taxes are a little higher out here, but when you weigh the pros and cons, the pros always outweigh the cons for moving out here.”
“Regarding the schools,” Colombos adds, “when you compare them to the city schools, you have to actually interview to get into those schools. So you may live in an area in the city that you think has a great school system, but that doesn’t mean your child’s going there. On Long Island, you can pick an area according to the schools, if you want to, you live in the area and your child is actually utilizing that school system.”
“And in the city, if you’re going to private school you have to pay those fees,” Dooley notes. “So you compare those fees to your real estate taxes here and you’re making out much better on Long Island than paying for private schools in the city. It’s just math. Do the numbers, and the numbers work every time.
Colombos laughs, perhaps doing some quick math in his head. “Especially if you have a multitude of children.”