Here is what my agents are telling me about their experiences in the market at the moment:
- Throughout the marketplace, well priced apartments in good condition create buzz when they are first on the market. Open houses are crowded, and frequently there are offers in the first few weeks, sometimes multiple offers. But traffic tends to fall off substantially after two or three weeks on the market, open house attendance dwindles, and the doldrums can set in.
- There is still ample inventory in the postwar studio, one bedroom, and junior 4 markets in most parts of town. Buyers looking at these listings are taking their time and still feel in control.
- Prewar one bedrooms, especially on the Upper West Side and the West Village, are still in demand. There is far less supply than in the postwar marketplace and these tend to get absorbed more quickly.
- As the properties get larger their numbers contract. Very few larger apartments are available on the Upper East and West Sides, in Tribeca and the Village, in Chelsea or in midtown. The 6, 7 and 8 room apartments on either side of Central Park, if priced right, sell in a matter of days or weeks, often with multiple bids. Buyers are shocked by the lack of inventory.
- Very large apartments in the best locations are scarce and highly sought after. That said, ALL buyers are still price sensitive. Even the best apartments will sit if they are incorrectly priced.
- The townhouse market, more than any other in Manhattan, has been resistant to price capitulation. Many of these properties are still perceived by buyers as too expensive and are therefore lingering on the market.
- The condo markets, downtown, midtown and uptown, are also very active. Many of the buyers are non-Americans.
- The rental market has slowed. There are a lot of tire kickers and inventory is not moving as quickly as it was a few months ago.
My agents also tell me that both buyers and sellers can be reluctant to sign the new Agency Disclosure forms which are now mandated by New York State. Buyers frequently believe they are being asked to sign an exclusive, whereas this is simply state mandated language clarifying whom we represent in a given situation. It takes time before people become comfortable with new requirements.
Overall the market is highly segmented, with high inventory and lower demand in the smaller more cookie cutter properties and low inventory and high demand for the larger properties, especially the properly priced prewars in top locations. While this scarcity has not yet produced a big uptick in prices, that certainly is a possibility as we move into the second quarter. Gradually, segment by segment, we seem to be seeing a seller’s market re-emerge.