September 5, 2020
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Real estate has been making headlines everywhere lately…
So has COVID-19 been a boom or a bust for home sales? Depends on where you live and who you ask…
Lucky for you, we have a real estate expert contributing to American Consequences. Kendra Todd is also a nationally recognized TV personality, author, and motivational speaker.
You may remember her from season 3 of The Apprentice with Donald Trump – Kendra was the first female candidate, and the youngest, to win the show.
During her work with the Trump Organization, she was involved with the record-breaking sale of a $95-million-dollar Palm Beach estate, the highest U.S. residential real estate transaction at that time.
Kendra went on to host the critically acclaimed HGTV series My House Is Worth What?, and her real estate advice has been quoted in leading publications such as TIME Magazine, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal.
And today, she’s filling us in on those long lines at U-Haul stores in New York City…
Hitting Snooze on the City That Never Sleeps
By Kendra Todd
Is New York City dead forever?
That was the provocative question that recently set off a fiery debate between Seinfeld star Jerry Seinfeld and comedy-club entrepreneur James Altucher.
Altucher contends that the Big Apple’s best days are behind her… Rentals vacancies are at an all-time high while second- and third-tier cities are booming with interest. The coronavirus pandemic, as well as the nightly looting and rioting we’re watching, are resulting in a mass migration of labor, business, and families from which there is no coming back.
Technology, particularly the increase in bandwidth speeds, has changed the way we all live… “Remote learning, remote meetings, remote offices, remote performance, remote everything.”
Plus, according to Altucher, the quality of life has deteriorated to such a degree, there’s really no reason to stay put. He conveyed snippets of Facebook posts from current residents who are fed up with what they see daily: “I watched a homeless person lose his mind and start attacking random pedestrians. Including spitting on, throwing stuff at, and swatting,” went one post. “I watched a man yell racist slurs at every single race of people while charging, then stopping before going too far,” recounted another.
Altucher, of course, isn’t the only person reporting on this great escape. There’s been an abundance of U-Haul trucks and other moving vehicles popping up on Manhattan’s posh Upper West Side, a spot which has been troubled lately with public urination and open drug use. One moving company in Brooklyn remarked that bids have soared 200% from the previous year.
Also soaring is gun violence… New York has already clocked in more than 1,000 shootings and there’s still four months left in the year. That’s a higher number than in 2018 and 2019 combined. It seems that Mayor Bill de Blasio is intent on giving today’s crop of gentry New Yorkers a taste of how grim life was back in the ’70s and ’80s before political leaders got serious about public health and safety.
Jerry Seinfeld, for his part, called Altucher a “putz,” writing that “energy, attitude, and personality cannot be ‘remoted’ through even the best fiber optic lines.”
“We’re going to keep going with New York City if that’s all right with you,” Seinfeld continued. “And it will sure as hell be back.”
So who’s right?
As much as I’d like to agree with one of the greatest living comedians, the evidence does indicate that Jerry may be wrong on this one… at least in the short term.
The New York Times reports that “home sales for the suburban counties surrounding the city” jumped a whopping 44% in July compared with one year ago. In some instances, sellers are receiving dozens of bids that far exceed the list price. “At the same time,” adds the Times, “the number of properties sold in Manhattan plummeted 56%.”
Other real estate outfits have noticed similar trends…
According to a market report from brokerage firm Douglas Elliman, July’s pending home sales on Long Island were up 41%… in Fairfield County, Connecticut a 73% increase… in Westchester County, New York a staggering 112%… and in The Hamptons an astounding 121%.
Even longtime second-home destinations are booming. Agents in the Catskill Mountains say sales and rental activity is far above normal, with sales up almost one-third year over year in June. And along the Jersey Shore, there are more buyers than homes available for sale in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
As appraiser Miller Samuel points out, “This is less ‘the city versus the suburbs’ and more ‘Manhattan versus the suburbs.'”
“We just feel that the city will not be the city that we lived in,” said Susan Cohen, who recently rented a home in Rhinebeck with her husband after sheltering in their Upper East Side apartment. “And we said, ‘What are we living here for?'”
New York City residents who have contemplated their own exodus out of the city should get off the fence sooner than later. A record 2,714 new listings came onto the Manhattan market in July after the city’s Phase 2 reopening allowed the return of most real estate. At the same time, buyer interest has plummeted.
The fortunate ones who successfully sell their Manhattan digs face yet another challenge – navigating an exceptionally competitive real estate market in the surrounding suburbs, where bidding wars and above-list-price-offers are the norm not the exception.
Investors are waiting on the sidelines for Manhattan home prices to dip to attractive levels in the hopes that they can buy low and sell high when the market recovers.
Seinfeld understandably believes that New York City will “bounce back.” And maybe it will…
After all, it took four awful years of David Dinkins as mayor to pave the way for the resurgence under Rudy Giuliani.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
The COVID Vaccine Will Require Billions of Tiny Glass Vials – and This Italian Billionaire Family Is Making Them
The Stevanato Group began 71 years ago by crafting specialty bottles for perfume and wine. Now they are perfectly positioned to profit from packaging pandemic cures.
I Was a Floating Head at an NBA Game. It Gets Weirder
As anyone watching the NBA during the COVID-19 pandemic can observe, the games being played in the league’s “bubble” in Orlando are played without flesh-and-blood fans present. Instead, 17-foot LED screens project the pixelated faces of around 300 basketball lovers from across the country along three sides of the court each game.
The Pandemic Has Created a Class of Super-Savers
One segment of the country will keep on saving, seemingly living in an economy all their own. Their incomes have remained steady, while their spending has decreased dramatically.
The CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Threatens Landlords With $100,000 Fines, a Year in Jail for Noncompliance
Administration is pushing the envelope of its executive authority by issuing a new blanket eviction moratorium for all rental properties nationwide.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Managing Editor, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
September 4, 2020