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Weekly Market Report - February 5, 2021

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Think NYC Is Dead? Not So Fast. Real Estate Contracts Rebound

Apartment sales, like everything else, froze when the pandemic hit. As a result there’s a lot of pent up demand. That, combined with plunging mortgage rates and sellers willing to take less for their property led to this sharp increase in sales activity. The increase in signed sales contracts for co-ops is larger than condos, but both are up in Manhattan and Brooklyn. “What we’re hearing anecdotally and seeing evidence of this people who to left to those places are starting to come back to their homes they left here and if they didn’t have a home they’re certainly out looking for a home,” said James who works for a residential firm. This clearly shows that New York is still place that is desired and will come back when vaccines are fully rolled out.


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Department stores show new signs of life with rare sales gain

Sales at U.S. department stores just grew for the first time in more than a year after stimulus checks and holiday returns drove Americans back to the mall. After a difficult 2020 that saw consumers eschew brick-and-mortar shopping in favor of delivery giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc., department-store sales rose 1.5% in January. “There’s no question that within these numbers, there’s a reflection of the impact of the $600 stimulus checks that came out right at the very end of December,” said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard and former chief executive officer of Saks Inc. “People got the checks and they went out and spent them.”

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Amazon Unveils Outdoorsy New HQ2, Renewing Its Commitment to Offices

Amazon. com Inc.’s plans for its new northern Virginia headquarters feature an outdoor theme, the latest sign that big tech companies are getting more creative with office space rather than abandoning it. Amazon, which is unveiling the designs on Tuesday, said the cluster of new office and retail buildings will accommodate around 13,000 employees, with room for more. The project is part of Amazon’s more than $2.5 billion, 25,000-employee office campus, which the Seattle-based company calls its second headquarters. While numerous tech firms have pledged to allow employees to work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Amazon, Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and others have continued to expand their urban office footprints. By investing heavily in big city real estate, they are betting that office space will be an important part of their corporate culture after the pandemic is over. “We have to think about this as a long-term investment,” said John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities. “These buildings will begin to deliver in 2025. And so, we believe that the world will be a much-improved place than it is currently.”


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N.Y. Among Hardest-Hit Labor Markets on Covid as Losses Top 10%

Hawaii, Michigan and New York registered the steepest declines in employment last year, underscoring the repercussions on the job market and economy from states employing stricter Covid-related business restrictions. A sharp slowdown in travel and tourism resulted in a 13.8% slump in Hawaii’s payrolls in December from a year earlier, the biggest among U.S. states, a Labor Department report showed Tuesday. Michigan and New York, among states with harsher shutdown measures, saw employment declines that exceeded 10%. Those states that rely on tourism, as well as those that have been especially hard-hit by the coronavirus, are counting on the rollout of the vaccine to restore economic activity. That said, distribution in the U.S. is running slower than planned, with cities including San Francisco and New York facing shortages.


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WeWork in Talks to Combine With SPAC or Raise Money Privately

WeWork is in talks to combine with a special-purpose acquisition company, according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would usher the office-leasing company into the public markets more than a year after its high-profile failure to stage a traditional initial public offering. WeWork’s board and its Chief Executive Sandeep Mathrani have been weighing offers from a SPAC affiliated with Bow Capital Management LLC and at least one other unidentified acquisition vehicle for several weeks, the people said. A deal could value WeWork at some $10 billion, some of the people said. It couldn’t be learned whether that includes debt. “Over the past year, WeWork has remained focused on executing our plans for achieving profitability,” Lauren Fritts, WeWork’s chief communication officer, said. “Our significant progress combined with the increased market demand for flexible space, shows positive signs for our business. We will continue to explore opportunities that help us move closer towards our goals.”