New Yorkers rented in Connecticut during the pandemic, but will they stay?

As with buying new homes, market demand for rentals has increased considerably among New York City transplants since the pandemic struck last spring.

But whether or not New Yorkers will maintain that high level of interest in relocating to the suburbs is one of many questions arising as restrictions loosen and things return to the new normal.

Matt Murray, a realtor with The Higgins Group based in Westport, reported stories from both sides. New York City has seen an increase in violence since the pandemic hit, which still has some people nervous, he has found.

“Last year I had a couple that lived in Chelsea and were looking to rent … They felt the city in general was okay in the daytime, but once dusk hit, being outside lost its allure,” he said. “Connecticut offers a respite from that."

RELATED: 8 New Yorkers on why they moved to Connecticut

“Obviously at this point last year we were seeing a huge influx of renters from the city,” noted Lynley Middleberg, manager at William Pitt Realty in Darien.

In March, 2020, it was unclear just how long the restrictions of the pandemic would last. Many people took up rentals for short periods — a couple of months — because they assumed they’d want to quickly get back to the city.

“That was part of the frenzy,” noted Barbara Bross, a realtor with Coldwell Banker who handles Fairfield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. “They had to get out of their houses because they’d only rented for two months.”

Others did commit for a full year, but whether they’ll be staying in the "burbs" or returning to the city is unclear. “A lot of those [homes] are now coming back up for rent again,” Middleberg said. “We’re kind of holding our breath to see what’s going to happen.”

Of course for some people renting has always been a more attractive option regardless of the pandemic.

“Some renters do not want the hassles of homeownership,” said Murray, who handles a number of rentals. These "hassles" might include property tax, higher insurance costs and the responsibilities of maintenance and upkeep.

He said many investors and builders are creating more large multi-unit rentals to meet the demand. “There is a good cash flow with many units,” he said. “Even if one unit is vacant for a month, the other units keep a complex financially viable.”

As the pandemic winds down, however, it’s unclear which way the pendulum will swing.

“I did hear of a family that moved out here last year, and the husband and three kids loved being in our area (but) the wife not so much,” said Murray.

Their house went back up for sale in May.

Bross said that because so many of her clients are coming from New York City, she feels confident that the demand for homes — for sale or rent — in this area will continue into the immediate future.

“So, many have adjusted and embraced Connecticut,” Murray said. “A few have not.”

 

Real Estate Guide
Houses on the Town Beach Clinton on March 21, 2021
Your guide to finding a house or apartment in Connecticut
Our easy-to-use guide will help you navigate some of the most popular housing markets in CT.