Conventional wisdom says the Manhattan market typically slows down from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Yet, many of our buyers and sellers are still in the market on one side or the other of the transaction. What doesn’t get discussed much is that the buyers and sellers that are actively in the market in the summer months are serious ones.
They may be serious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrated. In the past few weeks what we’ve been seeing in our office are frustrated clients at all levels. The developers can’t find suitable property to purchase because the owners are sitting tight and the current tax environment is not friendly to them. The elusive 3+ bedrooms under $1.5M buyers can’t find what they’re looking for. The 2 bedroom/2 bath buyers looking for an apartment that’s actually bigger than their existing 1 bedroom can’t seem to find it either. The sellers who are relocating out of the city are frequently faced with the choice of selling at a loss or renting their property and many of them choose the option to rent.
Not that everyone can be happy all the time, but a successful real estate transaction is one where there is a “meeting of the minds” and both sides feel the give and the take of the transaction and come away satisfied. I’d certainly like to see a summer selling season that fosters satisfaction rather than frustration. Who wouldn’t?
Is it just me, or is there a great deal of conflicting real estate data out there now? It’s as if each report that’s issued contradicts the previous. What seems to be true for some areas isn’t necessarily true in others. One thing that adds to the confusion is that most market reports are looking at data that is at least three months old, if not older. There’s also the issue of what data is being analyzed. Unfortunately, none of the recent 1st Quarter 2011 reports are comparing the same set of data, so how could they present a unified snapshot of our market?
One of the few analytic tools for assessing the market in real time is what Noah Rosenblatt is producing at UrbanDigs.com. His frustration at not having a more accurate analytic system to determine what’s happening in the market has led him to create real time charts that show the number of units on the market, the number of signed contracts, and the number of off market properties on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Finally there’s a source that we can turn to for real time snapshot of residential real estate in New York City. Thank you Noah!
I think it’s impossible to get a true sense of real time market strength or weakness unless you’re actively in it. The pulse of the Real Estate market changes quickly and if you aren’t in it, by this I mean actively viewing property and researching comparables in order to build a solid offer when you do find the right one, it’s difficult to know where to begin. If I wasn’t actively selling and showing property I might mistakenly think that market has slipped from 2010 levels, that is if I took the 1st Q reports at face value. But being in the trenches tells me otherwise.
Despite the downturn that most of the 1st Quarter 2011 reports highlighted, in many different subsets of Manhattan we’re seeing a surge of activity. The pace has picked up significantly, especially within the two/three bedroom category on the Upper West Side. Since January I’ve been seeing stronger showings at open houses and the return of multiple bids on properties which points to renewed buyer confidence and a great deal of pent up demand. I’m seeing properties that are well priced go to contract within weeks of coming on the market. That hasn’t happened steadily for quite some time.
After 30 plus years navigating real estate deals in Manhattan, it’s not the market so much that needs a temperature reading; it’s the buyer or the seller. Maybe a better question to ask is not how is the market? But rather am I ready to make a move into or out of it? What about you? Are you ready, willing and able?
Rick Wohlfarth is known throughout the industry as the “broker’s broker.” That’s what happens when you’ve been in the business for three decades and have been personally responsible for converting scores of buildings into the cooperative apartments that are prized real estate today. Rick has always believed that the more information his clients have, the better able they will be to make the right decision when it comes to buying and selling real estate. His vast real estate knowledge spans not only New York City and its environs but also encompasses Brazil and Maine both places where he owns property and is an active real estate advisor, investor and broker. Rick’s professional integrity attracts not only clients, but also other real estate professionals who are drawn to his honest and direct approach that is infused with the highest ethical standards. REBNY, NAR and MANAR, the three leading real estate trade organizations all benefit from his willingness to give back and do service for the benefit of his colleagues and the public at large through his extensive committee work and leadership roles. With his background as a CPA it’s no surprise to find him serving now as treasurer of both The Manhattan Association of Realtors and The Manhattan MLS.
The spring market is showing definite signs of strength. It’s obvious from the large turnout of qualified buyers that there’s movement and a pace to real estate that we haven’t seen in a while. When a first open house draws over 50 people and there’s multiple offers the next day you know the energy has shifted. Are we in a seller’s market? Perhaps. One thing that’s evident is that when brokers price their listing with a keen eye to where they will trade, taking into consideration comparable lines within the building and other competing properties, the activity around the property is immediate.
Sometimes New York City is in the vanguard and then other times it’s just plain behind the times. While the rest of the country has long been using disclosure forms to state clearly whether a real estate agent is representing a seller or a buyer NYC is just catching up on this front. As of January 1, 2011 it’s now the law in NYC that brokers need to have their clients sign a disclosure form that states clearly whether they are representing either the seller or the buyer. It’s taking everyone some getting used to, but I think it makes for a clearer transaction and gives our clients a better sense of representation.
Real estate grabbed my heart many years ago and despite the recent ups and downs of the market I find that there’s nothing quite like helping people find the perfect home. The last ten years have seen a huge change in the marketing of property with the explosion of information on the Internet. The fact that buyers now have easier access to pertinent information is a huge plus in my mind. I’m looking forward to sharing our market updates through this venue and adding my observations to the information mix. Thanks for stopping by and don’t be shy if you have a real estate question, shoot me an email or pick up the phone. What good is knowing something if you can’t share it with someone!