Spring real estate buying season could be “catastrophic”

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“We find ourselves with little to no empirical evidence of what’s going on,” said Miller, as the virus epidemic became a factor so late in March. “I don’t have any sense, otherwise it will be catastrophic. “

Contracts and closings can delay the reality of the market by several weeks or months as the paperwork cuts through the system, but there are already signs of decline.

At the end of March, there were 5,801 active listings for sale in Manhattan, down 15.3% from the same period last year, said Noah Rosenblatt, CEO and founder of UrbanDigs, a real estate data company. And 1,159 listings were removed from the market, compared to just 417 at the same time last year.

One of the biggest hurdles for the real estate market will be selling apartments with virtual locks. Real estate agents in New York have been considered non-essential workers, so face-to-face presentations are effectively prohibited, although new guidelines from the Cuomo administration may change that. And few apartment buildings allow visitors or accommodation. Even if buyers agree to buy an invisible view home, many steps toward closure remain stubbornly analog, despite efforts to integrate video calling and other technologies into the process.

Before the pandemic, “2020 would have been a very strong year of recovery for us,” said Diane Ramirez, general manager of Halstead, a real estate brokerage company. “I can’t even begin to think about what it will be now. “

The luxury market, which is subject to a price correction over several years, could be further affected. Last week, only two properties in Manhattan signed a contract worth $ 4 million or more, the lowest weekly sales rate since August 2009, during the last recession, said Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty. During the last week of March 2019, 21 contracts at this price or above were signed.

“All that is left on the market now, the price is just a suggestion,” she said, noting that sellers already under contract, as well as new buyers, are pushing for lower prices. aggressive.

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