Upper East Side private schools contribute to bump in house hunters

Manhattan's Upper East Side  has seen an uptick in house hunters since private school admissions letters have gone out.
Manhattan’s Upper East Side has seen an uptick in house hunters since private school admissions letters have gone out. Photo Credit: Pat Blake / Le Cats on the Water

With many house hunters hibernating during the winter months, real estate agents have started to see the first signs of spring on the Upper East Side, where private school admissions letters usher in a wave of house hunters.

This so-called “private school bump” began unfolding when private, elementary and secondary schools sent out acceptance letters in early February. One new condo development reported seeing a 15 percent increase in traffic during the weeks following the acceptance announcements, and several brokers said they have been spending more time on the Upper East Side.

“People have an idea that, if they apply to all the Upper East Side schools and get into one, they’re probably going to move to the Upper East Side,” said Amanda Uhry, founder of the admissions counseling firm Manhattan Private School Advisors, who said roughly 20 to 25 percent of her clients relocate upon receiving an acceptance letter. “It is common particularly for younger children because parents think, ‘Wow, getting this kid to East 74th Street from Barrow Street is going to be impossible next year.’ ”

The Kent, a luxury condo development slated to wrap up construction this summer, experienced a roughly 15 percent bump in traffic in the three weeks since acceptance announcements were sent out, Jane Klaris, its senior sales representative, said in late February.

“Schools anchor the neighborhood,” Klaris said. “Seventy percent of our total appointments have been in the last three weeks.”

Frances Katzen, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman, said the area is currently drawing buyers, who are concerned with the next dozen years, when their children will be in school.

“It’s a big commitment,” Katzen said. “There’s definitely an uptick. There’s no question that people are much more active.”

And Annette Holmgren, a salesperson at Keller Williams, said there are more higher-end homes coming onto the market, as their occupants start searching for residences near their children’s schools.

However, Holmgren said she has also noticed crash pads are a popular alternative to completely relocating.

“There’s some people I know that have just bought little studios for them and their kids for Monday through Friday just to be closer to the school so they don’t have to commute from Tribeca, the Lower East Side, or Chelsea,” said Holmgren.