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  • Michael Shapot, Esq.

NYC, How You Doin'?

When I returned home in mid June, Midtown was a ghost town with few pedestrians (all masked), light vehicular traffic and storefronts boarded up. The subways were sterile and the real estate market was poised for it's Phase 2 reopening.

Fast forward two and a half months: the streets have more pedestrians, still with masks, but at only 20% of capacity. No tourists. Many stores and restaurants have reopened. (The future of retail is another story, for another time.) There are restaurant tables and chairs on the sidewalks and in the gutters. There are UPS, FedEx, Amazon and grocery delivery trucks galore, but lotsa luck hailing a medallion cab. Uber and Via black is the new taxicab yellow. Commuters are driving rather than taking public transportation. Or biking (electric or traditional), or using scooters, hoverboards or skateboards. The subways are somewhat busier than they were in June and way busier than they were in mid March, but far from bustling.

The City's energy is returning in phases. Mani/pedis and tattoos returned last month, subject to strict COVID protocols, of course. Bowling alleys and museums are set to reopen this week. Schools and gyms - coming soon. With safety restrictions, of course. Hopefully - professional sports and the performance arts will follow.

The residential real estate market? Spotty. Transactions are getting done at all price points and with varying discounts off asking prices. It is still too soon to generalize about pricing. I remember what Shaun Rawls taught me years ago: "There are lies, there are damn lies and there are statistics." Closed deals post COVID are few, and the numbers don't yet tell a clear stroy. Anecdotally, I routinely witness bottom feeders brazenly submitting lowball offers, some of which are accepted by desperate and freaked out sellers. There are also realists, however, both buyers and sellers, striking deals, recognizing this as a perfect opportunity to get on with their lives. Renters have left the City, temporarily, we hope, and landlords have responded quickly with drastic rent reductions (up to 20%!!) and incentives both to attract new tenants and to retain existing ones.

What will NYC look like post summer vacation, Labor Day and the Jewish holidays? Will NYC residents vote in person or via mail from their vacation homes? Welcome to the new, emerging NYC normal.

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

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