C19 Open Discussion Week 17

From CBS News:

Hoboken Mayor Confirms Highest 2-Day Total Of New COVID-19 Cases Since Mid-May

While coronavirus numbers have been trending down in the tri-state area, there’s concern about a recent spike in some places, especially as crowds gather to celebrate July 4th.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced Saturday the city recently saw its highest two-day total of new COVID-19 cases since mid-May.

The mayor said 13 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on July 2 and 3.

“All 13 of the new cases that we’ve seen are ones that have traveled for work or for pleasure outside of the city of Hoboken,” Bhalla said. “Twelve of those 13 cases went to states on New Jersey’s quarantine list, including Florida, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina.”

Bhalla said the positive tests are all people under the age of 45, mostly between 20 and 35-years-old, and who attended indoor and outdoor events with groups of people. In some cases, he said, they showed no symptoms of the virus.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 16c

From Bloomberg:

Manhattan Home Sales Fall Most on Record in Locked-Down Quarter

Manhattan home sales plunged the most on record in the second quarter, while New York was shut down to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Purchases of co-ops and condos in the borough tumbled 54% from a year earlier to 1,357, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. It was the biggest annual decline since the firms started keeping the data in 1990.

Most buyers in the quarter went into contract before mid-March’s shelter-in-place orders banned in-person showings. The median price of completed deals fell 18% from a year earlier, the biggest drop since the second quarter of 2009.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 16b

From CNBC:

Pending home sales spike a record 44.3% in May, as homebuyers rush back into the market

Pending home sales spiked a stunning 44.3% in May compared with April, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That is the largest one-month jump in the history of the survey, which dates to 2001. It beat expectations of a 15% gain. Sales were still 5.1% lower compared with May 2019, however.

Pending sales measure signed contracts on existing homes, so it shows that buyers were out shopping during the month of May. Sales had fallen 22% for the month in April, as the economy shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus

“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings, and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”

The supply of existing homes for sale at the end of May was nearly 19% lower annually, according to the NAR. Single-family housing starts in May were not as strong as expected, although building permits, a measure of future construction, did gain some steam.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 16

Four months since we started this discussion…

From CNBC:

New Jersey governor: ‘I believe we will be back in school’ this fall with coronavirus protocols

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC on Friday he thinks K-12 schools in the state will reopen for in-person classes in the fall. 

“We want them to, and I do believe they will,” Murphy said on “Squawk Box,” while acknowledging that hopes for reopening schools could be derailed if coronavirus cases were to get really bad again in the state coming out of the summer.

“Imagine predicting in late April what late June would look like in America. Probably none of us would have gotten it right, good or bad,” the Democrat added. “So with that big caveat, two months out, I believe we will be back in school. It will be a new normal. There will be protocols in place that had not been in place before.”  

Murphy’s comments Friday came as schools at all levels across the U.S. are trying to develop plans for how to safely welcome students back for in-person instruction this fall. Many schools across the country shifted to remote learning in March as the Covid-19 outbreak intensified.

State officials released details of New Jersey’s reopening plan Friday afternoon. Staff and visitors must wear face coverings, while students are “strongly encouraged” to have them on, according to the Department of Education’s “The Road Back” plan. Schools also must have social distancing within the classroom “to the maximum extent practicable,” and districts also must develop a protocol to screen students and staff for symptoms of Covid-19, the document states. 

School districts must reopen for “modified” in-person classes, according to the plan. But given that the required changes may limit a school’s ability to operate at full capacity, a “hybrid” learning environment — some in-person instruction, some remote — may be necessary, the document acknowledges.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 15b

From NJ Business Magazine:

Pandemic Drives Manhattanites’ Moves to New Jersey

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).”

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C19 Open Discussion Week 15

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C19 Open Discussion Week 14c

From Bloomberg:

Suburban New Jersey Homes Headed for Biggest Price Increase Since 2005

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.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 14b

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. to borrow $1.7B from feds to pay unemployment benefits 

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.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 14

From the Star Ledger:

Asbury Park sued by state over indoor dining defiance

Two days after Asbury Park revealed it would violate Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus lockdown orders and allow restaurants to offer indoor dining starting Monday, Murphy announced Friday the state was suing the Jersey Shore’s premier dining destination to stop that from happening.

“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.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 13c

Welcome Back

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C19 Open Discussion Week 13b

From NJ101.5:

‘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.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 13

Something something too tired to get out of bed.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 12c

New Jersey is going to mortgage your house to pay for Coronavirus. From Law360:

NJ $5B Bond Bill Includes Statewide Property Tax Trigger

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.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 12b

Took a little while. People might not be driving to work, but they are certainly driving again.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 12

Two interesting data points from Otteau Group:

  • In NJ, week three projections for May 2020 show sales picked up slightly compared to the previous month, but still project a 21% decline year-on-year, bringing sales to their lowest levels since 2013.
     
  • This year, NJ’s unsold inventory has declined by 36% down to just 27,800 homes during a time of year when there is typically an influx of homes coming to the market.
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