“While some people are saying that New York City is dead, I have full conviction that the future of New York is bright,” Reffkin wrote.
A great debate has been waged — relegated mostly to the corners of opinion pages — in the last week or so, over the future of the city, which became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and was hit harder than any other city in the U.S.
James Altucher, an investor, entrepreneur, author and podcaster, wrote on LinkedIn that New York City was dead and won’t bounce back. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld hit back in a colorful piece for the New York Times, calling Altucher a “putz,” and arguing that New York City is, in fact, alive and well.
Reffkin favored Seinfeld.
“Like Jerry Seinfeld wrote in his op-ed earlier this week, I strongly believe that New York will be back,” Reffkin wrote. “I’m betting on New York City, and I even bought a home here — after COVID hit.”
Reffkin also brought to his argument a bevy of data on the general health of the American city, citing that home prices grew in nearly every metro area in the second quarter of 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors, even as the pandemic raged.
Los Angeles County experienced a 29 percent year-over-year increase in the number of contracts signed from mid-July to mid-August. The counties that house Boston and Dallas both saw a 49 percent increase in sales and Chicago’s Cook County increased 80 percent.
San Francisco was the only city in the United States that saw home prices actually decline year over year in the second quarter of 2020, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Much of the suburban boom — which Reffkin did acknowledge is real — is being fueled by second home purchases, with buyers keeping their homes in the city, according to Reffkin.
Specific to New York City, Compass is seeing better than last year sales activity from both investors and new buyers in two areas.
“Our New York City real estate agents at Compass are seeing increases in sales activity for two very different types of listings: those above $20 million and those below $2 million,” Reffkin wrote. “This tells me that very wealthy and savvy investors are seeing an opportunity to make a big bet on New York, while people who previously could not afford to buy in the city are taking advantage of something that New York City has not had in a very, very long time: slightly more affordable housing prices.”
Reffkin also brought his full-throated defense of the city to an appearance on CNN that accompanied his opinion piece.
“New York City is still one of the safest large cities in the world,” Reffkin said. “New York City still has Central Park and Broadway. The MOMA and the Met still have their beautiful collections.”
“We just need to wait until a vaccine comes,” Reffkin added. “That’s just a matter of time.”