As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we invite you to glance back at the last decade. While we’re looking at where we’ve been, let’s also take time to look ahead with optimism for what’s to come.
A decade is a long time. Think about all of the events that occurred during this era. The decade opened up with Hurricane Sandy thrashing into the New York and New Jersey areas in autumn 2012. After joining forces with a winter storm, it created the largest storm surge in recent history along the coasts of both the Empire and Garden states.
In 2015, history changed. That’s when the Supreme Court ruled that all states had to recognize same-sex marriage. Of course, none of us can forget 2019 when a novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China. After more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Moving on to more positive events, in 2020, SpaceX’s Dragon became the first private, crewed spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. Unfortunately 2021 started off with an angry mob of people attacking the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Then on January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris made history when she was sworn in as the 49th US Vice President. She became the first woman, the first Black American, and the first Asian American to occupy the office. That’s just a summary.
The Hudson Valley has certainly gone through some changes within the last decade as well. A recently released study by regional research group, Pattern for Progress found that during 2020 – the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic – the Hudson Valley enjoyed a net gain of 33,394 residents from the five boroughs of New York City. Westchester County netted a gain of more than 15,000 New York City residents in 2020.
According to the organization, pandemic-driven migration resulted in the Hudson Valley gaining more people than it lost for the first time in more than a decade. The report cited that “a total of 48,642 people from the five boroughs of New York City moved into the Hudson Valley, and 15,248 moved out of the region and into the city, for a net gain of 33,394 people.”
“In the last ten years, the biggest change we’ve seen is a direct result of COVID. People discovered that we were about two hours from New York City and within reasonable distance to Amtrak, the Metro-North Railroad, and the Taconic State Parkway,” said Lindsay LeBrecht, GRI, RSPS, AHWD, SFR, a licensed real estate broker with Copake Lake Realty Corp., which has offices in Hillsdale and Craryville, NY. As a result of so much population growth, LeBrecht believes that the area’s infrastructure needs improvement.
“I don’t think we were prepared to have so many people up here full-time who required high-speed Internet. In my opinion, this area still remains the sweet spot in Columbia County. About equal distance between trending Hudson, NY, and Great Barrington, MA, it’s just two hours from New York City.” This year, Copake Lake Realty Corp. is celebrating 20 years in the business. Congrats to LeBrecht, who was recently awarded the 2022 Realtor of the Year award from the Columbia Green Greene Board of Realtors.
One real estate agent in the region said that the pace of people moving to the area started picking up well before the pandemic. “This movement started when people began having more opportunities to work from home. The financial crisis of 2009 was a catalyst. People lost their jobs and had to come up with new ideas. With more layoffs and contract work opportunities, increasing numbers of people began working from home and many of them landed in the region,” said Julie Donbroski, licensed real estate broker and owner of Rhinebeck Real Estate and Mainly Rentals.
She said that many millennials moved to the Hudson Valley so they could enjoy country life and a sense of community. “They also came for a hands-on country experience. They wanted access to nature, the space to host their friends and families for dinner, to grow their own vegetables, and to know where their food came from. They’ve traded in the high stress of city life for the serenity of this lifestyle,” she added. Donbroski referred to these new dwellers as “New Age hippies.”
What types of homes are they seeking? “The millennials are finally buying homes and they’re looking for mid century modern, contemporary homes. Ten years ago, buyers in our region were more interested in older, traditional style homes and farmhouses. With low inventory everywhere, it is still a seller’s market, and bargains are hard to find,” said Christine Bates, a real estate agent with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Salisbury, CT, as well as a contributing writer to this magazine. Registered in Connecticut and New York, Bates handles commercial and residential properties in Dutchess County, Columbia County, and Litchfield County.
Hudson and Kingston
In recent years, the Hudson Valley region’s businesses have also changed to accommodate that new wave of people. There are lots of fun events – from marathons to Thanksgiving turkey trots to festivals, farmers markets, and beyond. There are also a host of wineries, innovative businesses, and creative shops and venues. Think Rough Draft Bar & Books in Kingston and Poured PCB Candle Bar – a Hudson destination that invites guests to pour their own custom candles in a chic bar setting.
NY-based Davala Real Estate LLC represents many towns in the Hudson Valley region. Among them is Hudson. “A decade ago, Hudson consisted of primarily antique shops with some retail, minimal restaurants, and non-performing buildings. Since then, it has turned into a diverse city with a broader amount of culture and arts, as well as restaurants and shops,” said Karen Davala. She described Hudson as “chic, alive, and sexy.” In fact, The Discoverer blog just highlighted Hudson as one of “10 Romantic Places to Take Your Significant Other.”
Davala credited real estate opportunities for driving the change. “Realtors presented themselves which created a destination for individuals to invest and grow. The train station also provided a large drive to the area,” she added. Hudson continues to provide opportunities for small businesses to thrive. Davala predicts more growth for Hudson and new ideas evolving in the years ahead.
“Over the last decade, Hudson has changed in many ways – going from an antique destination to a diverse shopping area of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants,” added Peggy Lampman of Peggy Lampman Real Estate in Claverack, NY.
Ten years ago, large comfortable homes in Hudson were selling in the $300,000 to $500,000 range. “Since then, it’s not uncommon for the same building, renovated in the latest style, to be resold for around $1,000,000,” she added.
Lampman mentioned two charming carriage homes. One on the north side of Hudson sold for $485,000 in 2014. In 2023, that property sold for $950,000. Another on Willard Place sold for $340,000 in 2010. Lampman said in late 2022, the property sold for $1,105,000. “Desirable properties sell quickly, sometimes over asking price, as the market is still tight,” she concluded.
Of course, there was a large influx of individuals to Hudson during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lampman said that most people relocated from major cities within New York, some from outlying cities, and some from international destinations. “Thanks to technology, a lot of them have remained here,” she concluded.
A 2021 article on Housingwire.com stated that homes were being snatched up in Kingston by New York City residents who were pining for more space. According to the article, “We’re getting a lot of people from Brooklyn moving here, and it’s everybody – all ages,” said Sharon Farley, an associate broker and sales manager with Murphy Realty Group in Kingston. “Before the pandemic, I would always work with the locals – I would sell the parents’ house to the kids, then to their kids, and so on. Now I’m selling to people from the city left and right, and it used to be you only dealt with a few city people each year.” She said the pandemic “opened a lot of eyes” for people living in the city.
Consistency in Connecticut
With all those changes, some places remain the same. The small rural towns in Connecticut and along the New York State line haven’t changed very much in the last ten years; in fact they haven’t changed much over the last 25 years.
“This is part of the lure here. The quaint charm of yesteryear is very much intact today. The faces and the store-fronts change from time-to-time, but these are relaxed country towns. The populations of the whole area have remained rather constant for 100 years. This is small-town America at its finest,” said Graham Klemm, president/broker of Klemm Real Estate.
Klemm, a resident of Sharon, CT, for the past 26 years, was raised in Litchfield County and comes from a family of realtors. “The core sentiment of Sharon and all the surrounding towns is the same as it was. I think the only noticeable change is that we have better restaurants, markets, and shops now, so the quality of life is better than it was a decade ago,” he added.
The people flocking to the area are the same as in years past. “They’re sophisticated people who are seeking a calmer way of life. They enjoy the area either as a weekend escape or as part- or full-time residents,” he concluded.
In Connecticut, contracts are currently on the rise, but limited inventory remains a challenge in all areas. According to a report by Sotheby’s International Realty, “The current pace of contracts, a leading indicator for our housing markets, leaves us feeling optimistic that the substantial sales declines we have seen in recent months will reverse course in the near future. Notably, this uptick in contracts is only happening in Connecticut so far.” In markets outside of Connecticut, contracts declined significantly month over month. This includes Westchester County, NY, and the Berkshires, MA.
In many cases, the only constant is change. Stay tuned in to Main Street Magazine, so you can stay abreast of all the changes that will continue to drive the Hudson Valley, the Berkshires, and Litchfield Hills within the next decade. We’ll celebrate again then. •