New Yorkers concerned about contracting coronavirus in their apartment buildings’ elevators and who have been working from home in small-but-expensive apartments are fleeing to northern New Jersey’s suburbs, according to multiple sources such as Michele Messina, real estate professional at RE/MAX Villa Realtors.
“New York City is absolutely wonderful, but if you don’t have the space, it can be difficult if you are working from home,” Messina tells New Jersey Business magazine. “If there is more than one person – and if you are all on top of each other – then you are definitely starting to fast-forward moving out of that apartment and considering a house.”
The opposite trend – moving into urban areas – was occurring two years ago, Messina recalls. But with the coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home and wary of public places, real estate professionals have recently been advertising suburbia using words such as “quiet” and “serenity.”
ShowingTime statistics reported overall that for home showings, “the Northeast Region index increased 19.6% since last year, and was up 127.7% since last month (May).”
Pandemic-weary New Yorkers, eager to escape the confines of city living, may push up suburban New Jersey home prices by the most in 16 years.
That’s the forecast by real estate consultancy Otteau Valuation Group for four counties close to New York City: Bergen, Essex, Union and Middlesex. The firm sees a dip in single-family home prices this year, followed by a 6% jump in 2021, the biggest annual increase since 2005.
“This looks like the 1970s, which was a time when people were leaving the cities,” Jeffrey Otteau, president of the firm, said in an interview. “You had tremendous growth in places like Long Island and Westchester County, at the expense of the Manhattan economy.”
New York’s two-decade urban revival drew in families who put up with dense living conditions and costly housing as trade-offs for a short commute. That reduced demand for suburban properties, keeping a lid on values and making remote, multiacre estates especially hard to sell.
Now, three months into the city’s lockdown, those norms are fading fast. New Yorkers no longer tethered to their Manhattan workplaces are free to move — and those with the means to splurge are seeking big houses, with space for home offices and backyards for socially distant entertaining. Prices at the highest end of the market can be comparable to a three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
New Jersey will borrow $1.7 billion from the federal government to replenish the unemployment fund that’s paid out more than $2.1 billion in benefits to workers who lost jobs or hours during the pandemic crisis.
Robert Asaro-Angelo said last week said he plans to submit a request by the end of the month to the U.S. Department of Labor for a line of credit to pay weekly unemployment claims.
The state will submit a request for a $1.7 billion loan to tide the state over in August, September and October, said labor department spokeswoman Angela Delli-Santi.
Despite the loan, the state will not increase the unemployment tax rates paid by employers and employees through the end of the next fiscal year in June 2021, Delli-Santi said. “No decisions have been made on FY22,” she said.
“We have worked with the governing body of Asbury Park to try to amicably resolve the issue of their resolution regarding indoor dining. Unfortunately, they have not done so,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.
“We have one set of rules and they are based on one principle: ensuring public health,” the governor added.
Asked if he would send the State Police to Asbury Park if restaurants do reopen indoor dining, Murphy declined to comment, saying the issue is now “subject to a legal proceeding.”
Asbury Park’s city council shocked the state Wednesday when it voted to allow restaurants to open for indoor service on June 15, at 25% capacity or 50 customers and staff, whichever is lower. That came two days after Murphy raised limits on indoor gatherings in the state to those levels as New Jersey’s COVID-19 outbreak slows.
But while Murphy has said outdoor dining will be allowed across New Jersey on June 15 as part of the state’s Stage 2 reopening plans, he stressed indoor dining remains prohibited, even under the new gathering limits. Murphy said the new limits were designed more to allow houses of worship to have larger services again.
On Thursday, Murphy warned Asbury Park and any other towns or businesses that violate his orders that there will be enforcement. He said the goal is avoiding new spikes in cases and deaths that other states have seen lately.
‘Reopen our economy now’ — Mayors complain that NJ moving too slow
Mayors of 20 of Ocean County’s 33 municipalities sent a letter Friday to Murphy calling on him to “open our economy now,” complaining that the Democratic governor is not moving fast enough.
The group, which includes mayors from both parties, said, “The time to lift or relax restrictions on all commerce is now.”
The mayors wrote that businesses and individuals have learned to adjust to the pandemic and should be trusted to act responsibly.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to allow those that want to work and spend to be free to do so. The shore and the state of New Jersey can ill afford to lose an entire summer season. We realize your restrictions are being lessened in phases, but that is not quick enough. These actions need to happen immediately, or the chance of reopening will no longer exist for many of our businesses.”
The Ocean County mayors follow similar protests by a growing list of municipal leaders in the group Mayors for Main Street, which launched in May with Republican officials in Somerset County and has grown to include additional mayors in Middlesex, Morris, Union and Warren.
A New Jersey bill advancing in the Assembly would allow the state to issue $5 billion in bonds to cover shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and would trigger property tax increases if the borrowing can’t be paid back.
The bill, A.B. 4175, would allow the state to issue up to $5 billion in general obligation bonds and authorize an unrestricted amount of short-term borrowing from sources that include the federal government. Sponsored by Assembly Member Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Newark, the bill was passed on Monday by the Assembly Budget Committee on a 9-4 vote. The bill would create the New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act, and it is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly on Thursday.
If the state didn’t have the funds to meet interest, premium or other payments on the bonds, a tax on real and personal property would be assessed and levied annually in every municipality to pay the bonds, the bill said.
The tax would be assessed, levied and collected in the same way and at the same time other real and personal property taxes were made, the bill said. The tax would be paid to county treasurers by Dec. 15 annually and sent to the state treasurer by Dec. 20.
Immune warriors known as T cells help us fight some viruses, but their importance for battling SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been unclear. Now, two studies reveal infected people harbor T cells that target the virus—and may help them recover. Both studies also found some people never infected with SARS-CoV-2 have these cellular defenses, most likely because they were previously infected with other coronaviruses.
“This is encouraging data,” says virologist Angela Rasmussen of Columbia University. Although the studies don’t clarify whether people who clear a SARS-CoV-2 infection can ward off the virus in the future, both identified strong T cell responses to it, which “bodes well for the development of long-term protective immunity,” Rasmussen says. The findings could also help researchers create better vaccines.
The results suggest “one reason that a large chunk of the population may be able to deal with the virus is that we may have some small residual immunity from our exposure to common cold viruses,” says viral immunologist Steven Varga of the University of Iowa. However, neither of the studies attempted to establish that people with crossreactivity don’t become as ill from COVID-19.
Return to normalcy? We have the first signs of a return to normal weekly driving patterns in New Jersey. Almost want to call it a return to sinus rhythm after a period of afib. Maybe the patient isn’t dead just yet.
If mortgage demand is an indicator, buyers are coming back to the housing market far faster than anticipated, despite coronavirus shutdowns and job losses.
Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 6% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Purchase volume was just 1.5% lower than a year ago, a rather stunning recovery from just six weeks ago, when purchase volume was down 35% annually.
“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”
As states reopen, so are open houses, and buyers have been coming out in force, if masked. Record low mortgage rates, combined with strong pent-up demand from before the pandemic and a new desire to leave urban downtowns due to the pandemic, are driving buyers back to the single-family home market. It remains to be seen if this is simply the pent-up demand or a long-term trend.