When requested if it was COVID-19 that pressured him to flee New York for Maine in March, Jordan Cohen doesn’t waffle.
“A hundred percent,” the Greenwich Village native, 40, instructed The Submit. “It was when issues appeared precarious and we didn’t know if we’d get out.”
Jordan grew up close to Grace Church, attended Bronx Science and has household ties that return to Ellis Island arrivals. However he additionally has heat recollections of sleepaway camp and household holidays in Maine. It’s the place he took his girlfriend, Elisabeth, on their first journey collectively. It’s additionally the place, a 12 months later, he proposed at Acadia Nationwide Park. So when it was time to beat a hasty retreat from the coronavirus, Jordan appeared north.
“I all the time dreamed of residing in Maine,” he mentioned, “however it wasn’t attainable due to work.”
Then the pandemic hit, and Jordan misplaced his tech job. He and his now-wife, Elisabeth, made the transfer, meaning to “experience out” COVID in additional rustic climes — however in the end stayed.
After renting in Searsmont, a city of some 1,617 folks inland from coastal Camden, they purchased a historic house from 1925 on fascinating Chestnut Road in Camden itself for $725,000. Elisabeth, 35, does gross sales work remotely from the completed attic (with a view of Mt. Battie), whereas Jordan began his personal advertising company, the Fox Hill Group.
“Life right here is superior,” he mentioned. “I hike each morning. I’ve misplaced 30 kilos. It’s far more relaxed, however nonetheless productive.”
Different tristate-area denizens decamped to the Pine Tree State for peace — and peace of thoughts.
“In all probability 70 p.c of my friends this summer season have been New Yorkers,” mentioned James Lott, of trip rental agency Camden Lodging. “Normally it’s sporadic, however New York was undoubtedly in Maine this summer season.”
Potential renters and patrons have been determined, in keeping with brokers on the frontlines. “Folks have referred to as and mentioned ‘Get me any home in Maine,’ ” mentioned Gwyneth Freeman of Higher Houses & Gardens, The Masiello Group.
A powerful financial system and low rates of interest made 2019 a traditionally good 12 months for Maine actual property, leading to 40 p.c much less stock in 2020. When frantic out-of-staters started seeking to escape the pandemic, housing demand exceeded provide, pushing costs up and accounting for a big quantity of closed gross sales.
“Due to COVID, April and Might gross sales have been down,” mentioned Tom Cole, president of the Maine Association of Realtors. “However June picked up, and July was gangbusters, with practically 6 p.c extra out-of-state patrons than final 12 months. In August, out-of-state gross sales went up practically 10 p.c, displaying a transparent pattern of what’s occurring.”
“It’s probably the most loopy market I’ve seen,” added Nancy Hughes of Camden Coast Actual Property. “There’s a really excessive demand, with folks prepared to pay excessive costs, however the lack of stock made costs even increased.”
In consequence, it’s frequent for a property to draw a number of provides; in actual fact, a “picturesque three-bedroom” in Brunswick (house to Bowdoin Faculty) attracted a whopping 12. Bidding wars at the moment are prevalent and provides made sight unseen, based mostly solely on video excursions given by realtors doing walk-throughs for purchasers sitting at house. Evidently, homes don’t linger available on the market lengthy. The Brunswick home bought inside 4 days of itemizing for $274,900 to a Nashville couple who paid properly over ask: the good-looking sum of $305,000.
“We’d see one thing we favored and look again a day later and it will be beneath contract,” mentioned Wealthy G., a 37-year-old lawyer who relocated along with his girlfriend from “hectic” Toms River, New Jersey, to Aroostook County.
The couple paid $159,000 for a three-bedroom ranch in Caribou, within the northeast nook of the state close to the Canadian border. However they needed to transfer quick.
“We made a proposal inside a day or two as a result of we actually favored the home,” mentioned Wealthy, who requested to not publish his surname. “We acted shortly as a result of we knew what was occurring available in the market.”
Coronavirus has led to extra anxiousness and claustrophobia in dense city areas, low rates of interest and job losses. “It’s COVID and all its tentacles making this market,” mentioned Hughes, in Camden.
One other a kind of tentacles — journey bans — drove Larry Cohen and his husband to Maine. The married couple had deliberate on visiting Sicily in June, however when the coronavirus nixed that, the couple booked an Airbnb in Machiasport, a sparsely populated coastal enclave in “Down East” Maine close to the Canadian border. Alongside the best way they randomly occurred upon gorgeous Rockport village, which is equally on the shoreline however nearer to the remainder of the continental US.
“I mentioned to my husband, ‘That is probably the most stunning city I’ve ever seen,’ ” recalled Cohen, a 47-year-old nonprofit govt director.
Although Cohen and his husband as soon as shared an East Village studio, they reside in a Mattress-Stuy brownstone. However for his or her trip house, they bought a “fixer-upper” with harbor views for simply over $1 million in Rockport.
“We needed a spot to socially distance simply and spend time comfortably,” mentioned Cohen, anticipating extra COVID-19 quarantines. “If caught at house, we might look out on the water and calm down.”
Freeman of Higher Houses & Gardens thinks the pandemic allowed the now-remote workforce to entertain different locations to stay.
“With out the pandemic, folks won’t have thought outdoors the field,” the Bangor-based realtor mentioned. “However now they notice they don’t have to enter the workplace and might work anyplace.”
That’s one motive Morgan and Hayley Greenlaw-Morrow bought their Connecticut house and relocated to a spot on Huge Indian Lake in St. Alban’s, smack in the midst of the state. The married couple cheekily dubbed their waterfront A-frame “Camp Beaverwood.” Whereas they love the tranquility of “lake life,” in addition they notice its monetary advantages. Each ladies now work remotely, which means they earn New York salaries however stay within the Maine woods.
“It turned more and more apparent with a wholesome revenue and significantly-reduced value of residing that we’d be actually silly to depart,” mentioned Morgan, 33, a company occasion supervisor. Hayley, 45, does product improvement for a footwear firm.
Mainers appear divided about folks from “away” shopping for up native actual property. Many drivers with New York license plates report being the goal of sudden center fingers, however different transplants inform a distinct story.
After Will Wooden (with spouse Deb and teenager Winnie) purchased 2-plus acres close to Sebec Lake in Dover-Foxcroft — about 30 miles north of the Greenlaw-Morrows — the city posted a welcome signal on the marquee of the native movie show.
And when it was time to prop up their ramshackle cottage, for use as a second house, neighbors pitched in unbidden: One helped ship heavy beams free of charge, whereas one other appeared to help in sliding them beneath the house.
“I’ve discovered our neighbors in Piscataquis County to be virtually comically useful,” mentioned Wooden, 55, a former bike-store proprietor.
One taciturn Mainer instructed The Submit his opinion on the topic, if not his identify. “We’re advantageous with folks shifting up right here,” the long-time native drawled. “It’s simply after they wish to change every part that we might have an issue.”