This New York State Region — Packed With Picturesque Towns — Became a Top Real Estate Destination in 2022

A closer look at the top two counties in New York's Hudson Valley attracting second-home buyers.

Scenic view of Mohonk Mountain House and Mohonk Lake, located in New Paltz, upstate New York.

Ruth Peterkin/Getty Images

For more than two centuries, the Hudson River Valley has provided a respite for city dwellers from the daily stresses of busy urban life. A short drive from New York City, this area boasts 7,228 square miles of beautiful landscapes, historic small towns, natural attractions, and year-round cultural events.

And with the pandemic prompting people to seek nature and open spaces, the region's popularity has skyrocketed among vacationers and remote workers seeking a tranquil setting within easy driving distance of large urban areas.

Unsurprisingly, Hudson Valley's hospitality scene has also seen a boom in new openings, where every week seems to bring a new property, each more unique than the last. A summer camp for adults? Check. A historic estate-turned-luxury hotel with a beach club? Check. A culinary-focused resort with its own farm? Check. Of course, vacation home buyers have also taken notice, transforming the Hudson River Valley into a vacation real estate hot spot

According to data by analytics firm Optimal Blue, Greene and Ulster counties are the top two most desired second home destinations in the area, which is home to 10 counties from Westchester and Rockland in the south to Albany and Rensselaer in the north. Greene, which includes part of the Catskills Mountains and is farther north, saw a 21.6% increase in mortgage locks from last year, while in Ulster County, demand rose 13.9%. 

Aerial View over Broadway Street in South Kingston New York.

Chris Boswell/Getty Images

As the home of historic Kingston, bustling New Paltz, hip Woodstock, celebrity-favorite High Falls, and over two dozen more charming small towns and hamlets, Ulster County stands out. Despite the national market's slowdown, there was a slight increase in sold luxury properties in Ulster County in September 2022 compared to the previous two months and a whopping 200% increase compared to the same time last year, according to data by Redfin.  

"There are a number of factors that make the Hudson Valley and specifically Ulster county so appealing. First, proximity to New York City plays a big role," Angelica Ferguson of Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty, told Travel + Leisure, noting that lower Ulster county is typically a 90-minute drive from Manhattan. 

She added, "The diverse ecology of the county also means that there's something for everyone — mountains, lakes, creaks, rolling hills, lush farmland — and throughout it all are sprinkled quaint towns with amazing restaurants, charming boutiques, farm stands, antique shops. It's quite a magical place where you're surrounded by natural beauty with luxury amenities at your fingertips."

Ferguson explained that the towns of Stone Ridge, High Falls, and Accord are popular with buyers seeking a farm setting, while those who prefer mountain escapes focus on the New Paltz area at the foot of the Shawangunk Ridge or the Woodstock-to-Phoenicia 11-mile corridor in the Catskills.

Interior of modern country home in Ulster County, New York, with concrete finishes and all white room.

Courtesy of Pacaso

She also sees a shift in the type of properties her buyers are seeking. During the pandemic, when a lot of people were working from home, bigger houses were in demand. But with many employees returning to their daily commute in the city, buyers gravitate toward smaller properties with high-end design and finishes that are turn-key ready.

"Amenities like pools and fireplaces are must-haves for the majority of luxury clients, and we definitely see an emphasis on garages during the winter months. Privacy and views are usually the most important elements that buyers prize above all else," Ferguson explained. 

Ulster County's surging popularity with second-home buyers also attracted Pacaso, which helps buyers invest in a luxury home by only purchasing a share of it. As part of its expansion into New York State, Pacaso offers the opportunity to co-own half of a modern three-bedroom, three-bathroom farmhouse, part of a new 44-acre development in Stone Ridge, built by NevelHaus.

"Ulster County showcases strong demand, ranking as a top county in the Hudson Valley for second home demand with a 13.9% year-over-year increase. This, combined with luxury real estate price resiliency up 12.75% year-over-year in Ulster County, helped inform the decision of expanding into Stone Ridge," Lucy Wohltman, Pacaso's senior vice president of new development, told T+L.

Pelle Hamburger, the co-founder of NevelHaus, explained that the company chose Stone Ridge for its central location within the Catskills and Hudson Valley region. The town is about 20 minutes from both Kingston and New Paltz. 

"The historic hamlet is also perfectly accessible to year-round activities, including hiking, biking, skiing, arts, and cultural destinations — a huge draw for our clients," Hamburger added. 

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