The Power is Now

Hudson Valley story of the year: Real estate – Albany Times Union

This year is mirroring 2020 in more ways than just the everlasting pandemic. Real estate continued to be the topic du jour in the Hudson Valley, driving local conversation, legislation, and sport (SNL’s hilarious sketch on Zillow porn in February perhaps hit a little too close to home).

In 2021, the pandemic-fueled home-buying frenzy that started in 2020 only accelerated. Rising home prices and record-low inventory created an even tighter market, squeezing many wannabe-buyers out of contention and sparking affordable housing concerns across the region. The average sale price of a single-family home in Kingston jumped by almost $100,000 in a single year, from $216,000 in 2020 to $312,000 in 2021, for example.

“There is a desperation to find a home, because it’s not an easy task for someone to purchase a home right now,” said agent Angela Briante of Briante Realty Group, which covers Putnam County. “They’re usually up against multiple offers and a lot of cash offers.”

Real estate was a major part of our coverage in 2021, and response to those stories indicated it was top of mind among readers as well. Here’s a look back at the real estate scene and top stories in the Hudson Valley this year.

Millennials frozen out of a red-hot market

Jessica Mann, 32, was renting in Stone Ridge with her partner while they looked for a home to buy in Ulster County.

Jessica Mann, 32, was renting in Stone Ridge with her partner while they looked for a home to buy in Ulster County.

Courtesy Jessica Mann

The process of buying a home is daunting enough. But for millennials, who are both the largest generation and the largest percentage of first-time homebuyers right now, the path to homeownership felt maddeningly out of reach, particularly in the Hudson Valley, where last year, Hudson and Kingston emerged as the metro locations experiencing the biggest influx of relocations in the country.

“I don’t know the number anymore,” said Elizabeth Carey of the amount of times she and her partner Zac, 33, put in offers over asking price for homes in the $175,000 to $200,000 range but were nowhere near being competitive. “It must have been eight or nine offers and each was turned down.”


Affordable housing is hard to come by

Peter Finken, Heidi Washburn, and Angelina Sotz Choc (left to right) all struggled to find an affordable rental in the Kingston and Woodstock areas.

Peter Finken, Heidi Washburn, and Angelina Sotz Choc (left to right) all struggled to find an affordable rental in the Kingston and Woodstock areas.

Lisa Phillips

Buying a home here is hard. Finding an affordable place to rent isn’t easier. Three locals at different stages of life shared their individual struggles to find affordable rental housing in Kingston and Woodstock (above) during a tight real estate market.

Meanwhile, record-low vacancy rates in Dutchess County squeezed the rental market there, and various towns — from Hudson to New Paltz to Newburgh — explored so-called Good Cause eviction laws to protect tenants from being unfairly uprooted.

And elderly condo tenants in Pine Plains were told they must buy their rentals for $300,000 or move out this winter so the complex can expand. “The daughter of one of the tenants … was just beside herself because her father, who was 85, had just gotten this letter saying he had 90 days to either purchase his unit at what is really a ridiculous price, or he had to leave,” said Darrah Cloud, the Pine Plains Town Supervisor.


Towns try to limit Airbnbs, short-term rentals

Modern Upstate Cabin, Red Hook, New York: View listing here. The Town of Red Hook is exploring a permitting system for homeowners to list their properties on short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

Modern Upstate Cabin, Red Hook, New York: View listing here.

The Town of Red Hook is exploring a permitting system for homeowners to list their properties on short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

Airbnb

Red Hook joined other Hudson Valley towns this year in exploring legal options to restrict and regulate short-term rentals like Airbnbs, primarily in an effort to keep housing stock affordable and occupied by year-round residents. Woodstock this year voted yes to a moratorium on new Airbnbs; the town already required permits and limits the number of permits available. The Village of Rhinebeck, the Town of Milan and others in the region are exploring, or have implemented, similar permitting requirements and regulations.

“I don’t believe short-term rentals are the total problem,” said Woodstock Town Supervisor Bill McKenna. “But I do believe it’s exacerbating a problem that we’ve had in Woodstock for a longtime – it’s taking affordable rental units off the market.”


The new developments

A new Main Street in Brewster — imagined here in architectural renderings shared by the village — would aim to attract NYC commuters.

A new Main Street in Brewster — imagined here in architectural renderings shared by the village — would aim to attract NYC commuters.

Tecton Architects

Real estate wasn’t just about single-family residential homes. Many large-scale developments were announced this year — for housing, hospitality and industry — and, in some places, were fought by locals. A group of residents in the Catskills community of Durham are  suing the town over a planned housing development there, while some Town of Dover locals are fighting a proposed hospitality development on a 250-acre farm there that they say could harm the environment.

Millbrook residents, meanwhile, successfully squelched an effort by a New York City restaurateur to develop Migdale Castle into a high-end resort.

The December announcement of the new iPark 87 near Kingston is the latest effort by developer National Resources to reimagine millions of square feet of old business parks in the Hudson Valley into hubs of the future, from movie studios in Fishkill to creating a commuter village in Brewster (above).


Hot home trends

This 1,500-square-foot storage barn in the Hudson Valley, designed by Worrell Yeung, is a dark, contemporary foil to traditional structures on the property and in the region.

This 1,500-square-foot storage barn in the Hudson Valley, designed by Worrell Yeung, is a dark, contemporary foil to traditional structures on the property and in the region.

Magda Biernat

White farmhouses once widely speckled the rural landscape in the Hudson Valley, but in 2021, dark-painted homes and businesses became the new norm. “It needed something striking as it sits in open landscape, and I knew a dark color would look beautiful in an open setting,” said Amanda Pays, interior designer and spouse of actor Corbin Bernsen, who opted to paint their Germantown home in Benjamin Moore’s Deep River to strike a moody feel.

The L.A. crowd and other West Coasters increasingly flocked to the Hudson Valley this year in escape of wildfires and in pursuit of rural living, area realtors reported. “The 415, 310, 213 [telephone] exchanges — just above half my buyers now are from the West Coast,” said real estate Dale Stewart.

And to appeal to a changing style of home buyer in the Hudson Valley, some new developers sought to modernize country homes here to cater to New York City-based house hunters. Bye bye clapboard, hello walls of windows.


Real estate escapism

A 10-acre island and its pair of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are listed for almost $10 million.

A 10-acre island and its pair of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are listed for almost $10 million.

Courtesy Douglas Elliman Real Estate

High-end listings drove widespread reader interest, whether it was an 80s pop star’s motel for sale, a famous actor’s Catskills estate, or a private island boasting two homes inspired by iconic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (above).

Here are some additional splashy listings that provided a transporting escape hatch for readers in a pandemic year:

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