Pelham’s real estate market is ‘on fire’ as city dwellers seek suburbs, say realtors; now is time to sell

Maurice Owen-Michaane (left), Holly Mellstrom (top right), April Monaco (bottom right).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, residential real estate prices have jumped in the Town of Pelham as city dwellers sought the suburbs and more space. It has also made the job of real estate agents more complex.

The Pelham Examiner spoke with three local realtors about the changing housing market: Maurice Owen-Michaane, with 13 years of experience; Holly Mellstrom, with 22 years, and April Monaco, 21 years. They all agreed that currently Pelham is a seller’s market.

“It’s really on fire,” said Monaco. “With Covid and the shutdown, I think a lot of people who were living in the city suddenly realized that they don’t have space. Covid made everybody feel isolated.”

“One of the things about Pelham is that although we were isolated, there was a community,” she said. “People could walk down to their driveways and bang their pots and pans and see their neighbors.” 

The majority of buyers, according to the realtors, are millennials from New York City looking for a home in the suburbs. These buyers desired the sense of community that can be found in towns like Pelham.

The flood of deals is reflected in the statistics. The average sale price in Pelham for a single family home rose almost 14%, jumping from a touch over $1 million in 2019 to $1.15 million in 2020. 

Inventory is down 7.5%, with a particularly large number of bigger houses purchased. In fact, in 2020, the average house being sold in Pelham had 3,057 square feet compared to 2019 with 2,746 square feet.

According to Mellstrom, “There is a trend for larger houses. They might want everybody under the same roof. They might want a home gym because they don’t want to go out to the gym. They might want two offices because they’re working from home.”

The realtors have had to adapt to the pandemic, particularly in the way that they interact with their clients. For instance, open houses have to be conducted following Covid-19 regulations and guidelines.

“I really only let one group of people in at a time,” said Owen-Michaane. “If the house was big enough, there could be one group upstairs and one downstairs in open houses. I tried to keep it strict. I also did Facebook and YouTube lives and went through with my camera phone and gave virtual tours. I would do live virtual Zoom tours.”

“People are very selective about what houses they physically go into,” said Mellstrom. “If the house is vacant that’s another story, but if it’s occupied, we try to be respectful. Obviously, inside the house we wear masks, gloves. We provide PPE, booties and everything else.”

Nevertheless, all the realtors agreed the market is right to list a Pelham house because of the high demand.

“If anybody is going to sell, now is the time,” said Owen-Michaane.