As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City witnessed a mass exodus of residents fleeing to the suburbs and the Hamptons during the early spring months of 2020 as the city became known as the epicenter of the virus. 

According to The New York Times, regions such as Westchester, Long Island, and Fairfield, Connecticut saw an approximate 150% increase in the number of signed contracts since November 2019.

In suburban areas where homes sat empty on the market for months or even years, New Yorkers who desired to escape the city — and whose income afforded them that option — took advantage of low mortgage rates to acquire these properties for more space more easily. 

However, with vaccine rollouts in progress and offices anticipating reopening in the near future, peak activity in the suburbs has been on the decline, while contract activity in the city is beginning to see a long-anticipated uptick. Due to the suburban surge, median rent prices in Manhattan have drastically dropped, hitting a decade-low of $2,776 in November 2020.

With rent prices on the decline, inventory levels have peaked and sales activity has begun to slowly ascend in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with each seeing an approximate 90% and 180% increase in contract activity respectively from April 2020 to November 2020. 

Because of a variety of factors, including the settlement of the election, the emergence, and distributions of vaccines, and the consistency of low interest and mortgage rates, 2021 could anticipate an extremely busy sales season as long as sellers continue to give discounts and are willing to negotiate. 

Though their pace is slow, after almost a year into the pandemic, New Yorkers are starting to return home.

Whether seasoned residents or first-time renters and buyers, the increase in contract activity is showing the desire for people to take advantage of low mortgage rates and rent costs to acquire new properties in a city that is slowly but surely making a comeback.

With larger spaces for lower prices than ever before and vaccinations on the move, New Yorkers are beginning to rediscover their love for the food, parks, culture, and overall energy of Manhattan that made them sorry to say goodbye in the first place.