Yet another summer has been spent within driving distance of home. I passed the last six weeks in rural Sullivan County, a beautiful place in the Catskill Mountains about two hours from New York City. Poverty levels are about 25 per cent higher than in the rest of the state, according to the latest census figures. Per capita income is just under $31,000, $5,000 below the national average.

And yet property prices in Sullivan County were up 32.8 per cent year on year in July. Modest wood cabins that might have gone for $200,000 or less prior to the pandemic were being dolled up and flipped for double that (or rented out at boutique hotel prices). All-cash offers and sight unseen buys have become common. The Borscht Belt, as it was once known thanks to hotels catering to Jewish vacationers from roughly the 1920s to the 1970s, hasn’t been this hot since Eddie Fisher and Liz Taylor hung out there.

Part of this is Covid madness,…

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