Residential real estate values—most notably in suburbia—have been going through the roof since the COVID pandemic began in 2020.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that existing home sales are on track for “their strongest year since 2006 as low mortgage rates and a robust job market drive up demand.”
“The market,” the Journal noted, “remains fast paced, and many homes are selling above listing price. The typical home sold in November was on the market for 18 days….”
On Long Island, homes prices have reached a 20-year high. Reports indicate that in 2021’s third quarter, the median sale price for a home hit $585,000.
In Nassau County, the median price in November was up 9.3 percent over the previous November. The median sale price is now $655,000.
Who has been driving the real estate market frenzy?
Yes, that subgroup of our population (born between 1981 and 1996) who left suburbia for college and swore they would never return—are coming back in droves.
Lest we forget—many in this age group despised suburbia, which they perceived as sterile and lacking culture vibrancy.
Those millennials hated cars, commuting, low-density developments and the bourgeoise values of single-family homeowners.
Millennials, who scorned suburbia, took up residence in America’s major urban centers, particularly New York City.
By the turn of the century, the city was no longer the mecca for working-class folks because it was no longer “the dominant industrial city in the world.” Industrial jobs that employed over 1 million in the 1950s and today less than 150,000.
To fill that void, NYC’s economic base converted into an information economy. And today it accounts for a majority of jobs in Manhattan.
The city is consumer-oriented. “It depends,” the esteemed urbanologist Joel Kotkin has written, “upon attracting those who seek the thrill of urban life,” a vast entertainment machine for “hipsters, sophisticated urban dwellers, becoming a kind of adult Disneyland with plenty of chic restaurants, shops and festivals.”
The “cool factor” mattered to many millennials; hence they did not mind living in expensive but tiny NYC apartments or studios.
Space didn’t matter because they could spend their leisure time in coffee shops with their laptops and dining in local bistros.
Millennials flocked to Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx neighborhoods that were revitalized, thanks to the dramatic drop in crime that commenced in the 1990s.
But something took the thrill out of living in the big city.
What caused the outlook of Millennials to change?
The pandemic, increasing crime and failing public schools.
Confined to small living spaces throughout the COVID lockdown wasn’t fun. Particularly if one was trying to work from home while attending to children glued to computer screens.
The closing of thousands of neighborhood restaurants and rising crimes rates added to the angst.
Millennials never experienced chronic crime in the streets as I did growing up in the city in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. So, even a small uptick in criminal activity was a game changer for many who grew up in the mostly crime-free towns and villages of suburbia.
Add to that the city’s public school system, which is spending more per pupil than any other district in the nation but failing to educate the children of Millennials.
The desire for more living space, a backyard, a safe community and good schools have caused many Millennials to drop their ideological opposition to suburban living.
This change in attitude explains why 67 percent of first-time home purchases in 2021 were made by Millennials.
Thanks to Millennials, in my neighborhood, New Hyde Park, home values have skyrocketed. There are bidding wars for homes that are often off the market within a week.
The noted social philosopher, Irving Kristol, once quipped, “A neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. A neo-liberal is a liberal who got mugged by reality but has not pressed charges.”
Many Millennials have been mugged by the reality of the policies of Mayor de Blasio, radical district attorneys and City Council members.
It is my hope that these newly minted Long Island Millennials have “mentally” pressed charges by forsaking their support of the progressive policies that caused them to abandon the city.