How’s the Market?

My friend Noah at UrbanDigs wrote an excellent piece today on the Buyer/Seller Disconnect (a MUST read for both buyers and sellers in today’s market!) and I couldn’t resist sharing my 2 cents.  So after a lengthy comment on his blog post, I decided to make that comment a post of my own here on TG.  So here it is:

Having lived through and more importantly brokered through the painful market in the early 90’s where homes took 2 or more years to sell and sellers were discouraged from given exclusives, I would like to make a couple of points about current market conditions:

1. Buyers with nerves of steel are getting some awesome deals right now and those who sit back and try to time the bottom of the market…well…good luck to them. I have signed contracts on 4 properties over the last 3 weeks. Asking price of $1.795M sold to my buyer for $1.3M. Asking price last year of almost $5M ($1M overpriced and should have sold last year for $3.7M) selling to my buyers for under $2.5M. One of my sellers who said he would never sell for less than $625K has a signed contract at $575K (as I say to my kids, "he’s a good listener").  Another seller is awaiting delivery of signed contract after a 3 week negotiation almost 20% below an already attractive ask. All of these deals are being partially financed (between 50 and 80% borrowed money) at very competitive rates from savings banks or portfolio lenders. CORRECTION…one of these deals is an all cash transaction.

2. I think that a seller’s agent who isn’t drinking the kool aid and actually provides the service of pricing ahead of the downward curve is a HUGE asset in this market. Just received an email yesterday from a seller’s agent informing me that the property has been reduced by 6%…I asked her what planet she was living on as the offer my buyer made 2 months ago at 20% below ask should have been countered and is no longer on the table. ALL bids must be analyzed and taken seriously if a seller really wants to sell. I have no desire to work with sellers who won’t listen to current market conditions.

3. There WILL be a price point at which more buyers come back to the market and the smart ones will do so before the lemmings. Credit will ease up eventually and further price depreciation (IMHO) will make buying Manhattan real estate almost irresistible (unless they don’t have a job which is a very real possibility).  Maybe this is just wishful thinking.  We shall see.

4. I believe that prices are down 20-25% from peak levels for deals that are actually getting done "today."  What sold last month and certainly what sold 6 months to a year ago is absolutely irrelevant in today’s marketplace.

All of that said, buyer anxiety remains high (seller anxiety is peaking too) and I’m seeing buyers who receive accepted offers back out or attempt to renegotiate questioning whether they should have offered less. It will take a strong constitution for brokers, sellers and buyers alike to get through this real estate battleground but I’m seeing (anecdotal of course) some amazing deals getting done. It is ironic that everyone wants to buy a home or a stock (they should not be compared IMHO) when the value is climbing but everyone runs as values dip to attractive buy levels.

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