Jonathan Miller is the principal broker at JonCar Realty in Beacon.
Why does it seem like your signs hang on just about every storefront for sale or lease in Beacon and Cold Spring?
Well, we try. I’m a sixth-generation Beaconite. Companies come in [looking for space] and don’t know the properties or what’s coming up on the market. People contact me to let me know ahead of time that they’re going to be selling. All my agents are local, too, so we live here and appreciate the relationships. Lots of clients call me up years after I’ve sold to them and ask for advice about various things.
How did the pandemic impact real estate in the Highlands?
It drove the market up because everybody was trying to get out of the city. People were buying properties by video without even visiting. Not only did they come to live, but storekeepers from the city who were used to a $20,000 monthly rent also moved and are now happy to pay $2,000. That’s why we’re seeing so many unique shops pop up in Beacon, especially.
Is Beacon at a crossroads, where higher rents are displacing legacy shops, such as at 340 Main St.?
What happened there is that the new owner bought at today’s market value and the tenants were paying rent at 1970s levels. I know he tried to work with them, but a storefront at $800 is unheard of. I feel for everybody, but prices in the area have to change, because when a building sells at market rate the new buyer can’t keep the low rents from years ago. Taxes have gone up astronomically and then you have to factor in renovations if it’s an older property, many of which haven’t been touched since the 1970s. And, of course, with older buildings, there are capital expenses to get them into proper running order, which good landlords take care of.
What do you foresee over the next five years in Beacon’s markets?
The market is slowing all around and that will continue because interest rates have climbed. But Beacon remains popular, with a higher market turnaround and value retention compared to places like Garrison, Cold Spring or Red Hook. It’s not affordable for everyone, but as people adjust after a little lull, sales and rentals will come back strong. Lots of people who have been here for many years plan on staying, but newcomers have it hard. So many friends say their kids can’t afford to buy here and that will continue as the area becomes more of a bedroom community in many ways.
What trends do you foresee in Philipstown over the next five years?
It has its own niche. A lot of people enjoy the Cold Spring retail vibe, which is getting more diversified, but as with Beacon, it’s going to slow down a little and then pick up again, but not as fast. What I’m seeing in Cold Spring is a lot more people getting food. The hikers and the strollers aren’t carrying packages [from shopping]. There are lines stretching outside the restaurants; that’s where the demand is. Housing in Garrison and Cold Spring has a lot of big-ticket items and the homes that move quickly are in the $500,000 to $600,000 range. Multimillion-dollar properties can sit on the market for a long time, which is unlikely to change.