NYC housing market recovery may hinge on schools reopening

Experts said parents often make location decisions based on where their kids go to school

Demand remains strong throughout the United States for homes, but sustained recoveries in major cities – like New York – could depend on decisions related to schools reopening.

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The overall U.S. housing market is strengthening, according to Realtor.com, as growth sales pace, demand and prices have surpassed last year.

“However, a sustained seller comeback still hinges on back-to-school plans and extended lockdowns,” Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com, said in a statement.

New York is one of the major metropolitan areas showing the greatest recovery strength now that in-person showings have resumed, but local real estate agents also note that the recovery timeline is up in the air – given the high amount of unknowns facing buyers and sellers – including schools reopening.

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“School is so meaningful for kids, for parents in so many ways – we sell so many houses [for people] who are moving to be closer to their kid’s school,” Lindsay Barton Barrett, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman, told FOX Business. “School is always going to be a really powerful draw.”

Of her clients, Barrett said those with younger children – preschool through first grade –are most affected by indecision regarding local school reopenings.

“Those people, in my experience, I’m finding are more inclined to either decide to move out of the city or to decide to stay in a more remote location for a period of time,” Barrett said.

If virtual classes were to continue, many families would likely remain at their vacation homes out of the city.

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Vickey Barron, a residential real estate agent at Compass, who deals with clients across the income spectrum, said she has found that there are a number of reasons parents with school-age children are leaving Manhattan related to the education situation.

Some clients, Barron said, have found schools in remote areas that can safely reopen because they have space and an optimal teach-to-student ratio. Some children may attend private or charter schools.

Others, she said, are planning on homeschooling and do not believe they can do it within the limited square-footage of a typical Manhattan apartment.

And for people who are reluctant to leave Manhattan, schooling could be the issue that pushes them over the edge.

“Some of them are worried about giving [Manhattan] up, but again if there are children involved and school issues then that’s going to help,” Barron said.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has noted that the city does not yet have a complete plan to reopen schools, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for reopening.

Cuomo said during a press conference this week that the 2 million parents in New York City would decide whether local reopening plans are safe or not.

“I don’t care what any bureaucrat says, I trust the parents more than anyone, and I don’t care if a school district says reopen, if they don’t have a good plan for reopening no kids are going to come,” Cuomo said. “So then you have no reopening.”

Other major cities have already quashed any talk of restarting in-person instruction this fall, including Los Angeles and Houston.

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