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« previous: I'm expecting to recieve a nice bonus this year; can it be used to lower my monthly mortgage payment?   |  next: Baby won't you park my car »

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Market heats up as temperatures drop

shoes_sm.jpgheadroomAn informal survey of my colleagues today, revealed sustained, strong market activity since my last "shoe-leather" post a couple of weeks ago. More significantly, most agents reported receiving offers as well, so it is not all window shopping. I heard of a few multiple bid scenarios too.

Working agents see the market's momentum first hand. Attendance at open houses, and the number of offers tendered, give us a first reading of the market's temperature; and it's been feeling awfully warm as the weather outside finally gets colder. This is the second shoe-leather report on Open Houses and it will be a semi-regular feature here.

Adam McLaughin's $825,000 listing at 131 West 28th Street had the busiest Open House of agent's I interviewed over the past two weeks. He said that in the bitter cold two Sundays ago, "we had 49 sign-in’s (read that as over 100 people in attendance), plus four offers with two at full ask. Contracts are out. This after having been on the market for five months before Christmas with little activity and an offer that fell through. The market has definitely picked up— but this listing was priced well too."

He makes a good observation. With the market softening a bit recently, it has encouraged sellers to price their homes more realistically. I believe that we are seeing pent-up demand in the market, as well as the effect of Wall Street bonus money hitting the street. It's translating into deals happening much faster than in recent memory. The buyers are getting it that the bubble isn't bursting. Fundamental demand remains strong, and people are finding a better selection of available homes. It is an across the board increase at all price points and neighborhoods as well. Overall the foot traffic has doubled this month and the offers are coming in quickly. The fundamental message is that pricing has adjusted to a point where the perception of value is meeting expectations. Lets look at some of the results, keep in mind that a "group signed-in" usually represents two or more people:

Mitchel Speer is more single minded about the driving force, "It's all the Wall Street money!". He and partner Neil Ashworth, have hosted Open Houses at three properties with 18 to 20 signed-in, and offers on all. A $3,695,000 condo at 42 East 20th Street, a $975,000 co-op at 895 West End Avenue, and 18 Leonard Street at $2,295,000. Paula Manikowski's $2,220,000 co-op at 527 Hudson Street popped on the market and into contract within days, with multiple offers. Her first and only Open House had 30 sign-ins. Kathleen Manikowski reported that 140 Charles Street has seen attendance go on average from 8 signed-in for December, to 18 last week. Steve Milhollon hit Blackjack with 21 groups and an offer at 404 East 79th Street for $699,000. Uptown broker Valerie Dominguez's $950,000 Magnolia Mansion condo at 309 East 108th Street saw significant traffic with 20 signed-in, as well as traffic more than doubling at her other listings. Susan Singer's team reported 20 groups at her new condo conversion at 801 Riverside Drive.

It remains to be seen if the trend has legs, or fizzles mid-year as people head to the beach, and the stock brokers focus on movers and furniture for their new apartments. But right now the deal making momentum is strong and it seems like a great time if you are considering putting your home on the market.

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