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New York suburbs see condo-buying boom as houses get too pricey

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Demand for single-family houses is still surging as the pandemic sends city-dwellers to the leafier outskirts in search of more space.

[NEW YORK] The homebuying boom in New York's suburbs is spreading to condos.

Demand for single-family houses is still surging as the pandemic sends city-dwellers to the leafier outskirts in search of more space. While competition mounts for a dwindling supply of such properties, pushing prices out of reach, more buyers are taking a second look at apartments.

They're joined by empty-nesters who sold their suburban spreads and now have the cash in hand to find a smaller place nearby, according to Jonathan Miller, president of appraiser Miller Samuel.

"Affordability is a challenge, and with record prices being set, condo becomes a competitor again," Mr Miller said in an interview.

Today's low mortgage rates might have given shoppers an extra push towards condos, a relatively lower-priced choice that's less likely to require a jumbo loan, Mr Miller said.

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In Greenwich, the Connecticut town famous for its mansions favored by Wall Street's elite, contracts to buy condos more than tripled in November from a year earlier to 25, according to a report on Wednesday by Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. A majority of those deals were priced from US$500,000 to US$999,000.

Condo contracts also jumped in New York's Westchester County, by 24 per cent. On Long Island, excluding the Hamptons and the North Fork, they rose 6.5 per cent. A majority of the transactions in both locations were priced below US$500,000, the firms said.

Even high-end buyers found condos attractive last month. On Long Island, there were 16 deals to buy apartments for US$1 million or more, up from just eight in that price range a year earlier.

In Greenwich, there were three contracts for condos priced at US$2 million to US$3.99 million.

"The pattern is contrary to the assumption that single-family homes are all that matter," Mr Miller said.

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