If there’s anyone who knows the ins and outs of Kingston’s real estate market, it’s Harris Safier. For the past 38 years, the principle broker and CEO of Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty has experienced first hand Kingston’s growth from obscure Hudson Valley city to second-home mecca.
After growing up in Brooklyn, Safier moved to Ulster County in 1977. He lived in Stone Ridge from 1978 to 2010, then moved to Kingston. Just a couple of years after his relocation, Kingston’s second-home market began to pick up steam.
“Two realtors organized a tour of homes in Kingston for realtors from areas like Marbletown, Woodstock, and Gardiner,” Safier recalls. “The purpose was to encourage other realtors to offer Kingston as a second-home option to their clients seeking dual residency with a New York City base.”
Back then, explains Safier, second-home buyers were searching for old, rambling farmhouses on a few acres of land, far away from it all. But as buyers got hip to Kingston’s charm and historic character—and its rock-bottom property prices—they started snatching up the inventory.
“Over the last few years,” says Safier, “changes in the buyer profile have brought a new vitality to the market for homes in Kingston. When you walk around Kingston these days, you see transplanted people and their babies and dogs, looking like they are thrilled to be here and a part of the scene. More and more restaurants, pubs, and ventures are popping up, not only as a result of the growing tourist traffic but also to serve the growing number of transplants who are spending most of their week living life to the fullest in and around Kingston.”
But just how many transplants are starting to turn their second homes in Kingston into full-time residences? “It is virtually impossible to cite clear statistics on the number of those who start out as primary residents and those who initially are dual residents,” Safier says. “Many start out staying at their Ulster County homes a few days of the week, and begin to increase their time here as they enjoy the lifestyle more and more,” he says. “It starts with many extending their time by getting back to the city early in the morning, rather than the night before.”
So second-home owners in Kingston, be warned: When you find that you don’t mind bussing it back to the city before dawn on a Monday morning, your fate is sealed. You’re already home.