Douglas Elliman’s chief agent gives a macro look at New York’s real estate boom



While New York was in agony pandemic coronavirusDouglas Elliman’s agent Jessica Levine (pictured below) has already been assessing the consequences. As one of Elliman’s leading brokers in terms of transaction volume and gross commission income, controlling his own footprint in a global real estate firm, Levine abruptly paused property searches and some of them relocated to Miami and the Hamptons.

New York Real Estate Agent Jessica Levin

New York Real Estate Agent Jessica Levin

“Although New York was considered recession-resistant during the last financial crisis, this time it was different. All the things that make Manhattan an international center of power, such as art, culture and restaurants, were suddenly closed, ”Levine recalls. “But our motto was ‘Never bet against New York.’ We channeled this energy every day, and it bore great fruit. “

Although brokers were not allowed to show properties until June 2020, Levine used this time to strengthen her relationships with clients and ensure open communication paths. As New York began to reopen and the super-rich realized that The downside to living in Florida is that you have to live in Florida., she was their first call. Official imprint of a broker at Elliman, Jessica Levin’s teamlaunched immediately after the market opened, and since then the business has continued to operate at breakneck speed.

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The new cliché is that New York is back. Individuals and high-income families are returning to Manhattan in droves, competing with each other in wars that have become more ruthless than in Southampton at the height of the pandemic. But the city’s real estate market experienced both tremendous turmoil and triumph throughout the pandemic. Standing recently spoke with broker Douglas Elliman to get a timeline of the city’s real estate collapse, its recovery and what comes next.

Q: What was the New York City real estate landscape before COVID?

Answer: From 2016 to early 2020, the market showed signs of weakening. The new political administration, mixed with a strong dollar, has made investments in New York more expensive for many foreigners. Without foreign money, and without Trump’s recent SALT deductions, the market did lag behind for several years. Many associate a strong stock market with a strong economy and therefore a strong housing market, but this is not always the case. When the market drops 5 percent, investors are wary and buyers are worried. When the stock market rises, everyone feels confident. So, the stock market grew, while real estate smoothed out and tended to decline.

By early 2020, with the stock market high and the economy strong – despite an election year that can often be equated with a year of instability in real estate – buyers were feeling confident and prices were just starting to rise again. Although the first quarter of 2020 was successful, COVID hit New York hard in March 2020. 23 march [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo declared the brokers “irrelevant,” and it suddenly became a violation to show the apartment in person.

Now that the pandemic appears to be waning as the city redoubles its vaccination efforts, what does the market look like?

When brokers were deemed necessary in June and allowed to work again, the market opened in absolute buying frenzy. Buyers were looking for deals, sellers were panicking and selling properties, and rental vacancies were at an all-time high.

I often use the analogy with stocks. When the stock market crashes, some sectors and stocks recover faster than others. I like to compare each individual area with a market sector. The tech sectors in the market remained strong while the tourism sectors fell sharply. While this is a subjective opinion, neighborhoods like Midtown and the Financial District, which are close to much of the office space, are similar to tourism sectors and have more problems than areas like TriBeCa and Flatiron, which are similar to technology sectors and prices. didn’t dip that much.

Also, by adding to this correlation, even in a strong or weak sector, you can still have a stock that is an outlier for the better or for the worse. Some buildings in desirable areas are still in a quandary due to high HOA fees or taxes, and pending litigation or evaluations. Many of my clients will understand the analogy of wanting to buy “Apple property” and whether they follow the market or not, they understand that this means a building that retains its value and has significant growth potential or the ability to weather the storm.

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Where is the madness?

Everywhere, especially on the Upper East Side along the 2nd Avenue subway line … and downtown as retail returns. The Financial District and Midtown West are still struggling. Brooklyn opened and remained strong, thanks in part to the townhouse market.

Do you have any tips or advice for buyers?

Understand the work and make sure you have a buyer’s broker who can help you and who you trust, because anyone can go online and look at properties. You need someone who works with you and says, “These are the drawbacks and problems with this apartment” or “it is listed correctly and will be less talked about, so be prepared to pay, ask if you want it.”

Most buyers want the buyer’s broker to be honest, educate and negotiate strategically. You do not want to win the negotiations, but you will lose your apartment.

Good real estate brokers don’t just open the door and show the apartment: they understand what the value is and how to provide their clients as much as possible.

I am proud of myself and my team when I tell our clients, whether they are a buyer, seller or investor, that by hiring us you get us. My team is highly knowledgeable about all the intricacies of New York real estate, including contract law, 1031 exchange, financial reporting and knowledge of the past history of buildings, as well as the rental market. We like to call ourselves knowledge brokers.

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Do you think that the remoteness of some businesses will affect buying decisions?

There are enough people right now wanting to return to New York, and it doesn’t matter if you’re retired. If your friends are back, you want to come back. At the moment, the city is again getting stronger than before.

What are your predictions for the future?

I think we will see a lot more movement. Many New Yorkers are returning with restaurant openings, reopening, and a host of new restaurants! The outdoor dining area is here for a long time, and the streets are closed for seating. This was not the case before COVID. So you have a lot of people who come back and sit on the street with the feeling that they are in Europe. There has been a complete refurbishment and I think we will see that in different areas we can bounce harder.

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