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Weekly Market Report - September 2, 2020


Major tech still believes in the office

The future of office properties has been in question since the pandemic emptied out Manhattan. But Brian Rosenthal, a senior executive at Facebook, told Business Insider that having a physical space in New York is critical for the social media giant. “So much of what we do is collaborative,” Rosenthal said. “[Software is] like writing a book together where all the plots have to connect and make sense, and there are thousands of authors. It’s really hard to do if you’re not co-located in the same space and it’s important to even be able to see each other in the same space.” That explains why Facebook signed a 730,000-square-foot lease at the Farley Post Office redevelopment earlier this month, even after some tech companies extended work-from-home policies or made them permanent.


Business is still happening

A consulting firm just signed one of the largest office leases of the Covid era in Midtown. FTI Consulting inked a deal for more than 120,000 square feet at Edward Minskoff’s 1166 Sixth Avenue tower, relocating and consolidating several of their Manhattan offices. FTI Consulting, a global management advisory firm with a market cap of $4.3 billion, will occupy the 14th through 16th floors in the building between West 45th and 46th streets. According to a source familiar with the transaction, the deal carries a term of 15 years. The space had an asking rent in the $80s per square foot. The deal is one of the largest to close since the global pandemic hit Manhattan, which saw leasing activity grind to a near halt. Leasing during the second quarter totaled just 3.18 million square feet, the lowest figure since 2009. This is not the only large deal that has happened during the pandemic. Facebook and TikTok also signed leases for massive new offices. The pandemic will fade, and things will slowly return to normal.


Consumer spending increases

U.S. consumers increased their spending by 1.9% last month, a dose of support for an economy struggling to emerge from the grip of a pandemic. The consumer spending report arrives amid a hazy economic landscape, with high unemployment, struggling businesses, and deep uncertainty about when the health crisis will be solved and when people and companies will feel confident enough to spend and normally hire again. Real-time tracking data from JPMorgan Chase shows that credit and debit card spending had softened early this month in states with high unemployment compared with states with lower unemployment. But Chase economists said they saw little sign that the expiration of the $600 benefit has so far caused any significant economic setback.


Increase in urban home sales

The early coronavirus outbreaks and exodus of New York City residents had some folks biting their nails over the future of American cities. Recent data on home sales and values show the answer is no. A report from Zillow found urban and suburban residential real estate markets have fared similarly since the coronavirus hit the United States. In urban and suburban places, homes are now selling faster and with fewer price cuts than before the pandemic. In the South, which is home to 41 percent of new pending sales, the time on market increased in urban areas but declined in the suburbs. In the Northeast, tight urban inventory led to days on the market falling faster in urban places than in the suburbs. Across the board, price cuts in June are down compared to February. Nationwide, annual growth in home values in urban and suburban ZIP codes is similar, at 4.3 and 4.1 percent, respectively, according to the report. During the pandemic, home values grew marginally faster in the suburbs: 0.6 percent faster annually in June than in February, versus 0.5 percent in urban areas.

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