Welcome to the housing market’s darkest days

Pounding rain assaults Brisbane (Flickr photo by Burning Image)

No, I don’t mean that sales and prices are plunging.  We’re entering that period when you’ll see fewer new listings, fewer open houses, not so many names on sign-in sheets and more properties going temporarily off the market.

We are entering the dark days.

It’s the holidays!

You can argue both sides of the coin of whether it’s a good idea to buy and sell from now until January or even later.  On the one hand, sellers face less competition from other sellers and buyers have less competition from others in search of a new home.  Those buyers who are out there are said to be serious–just like those who venture outside in inclement weather.

Such buyers definitely have fewer choices, with the remaining properties having been picked over as if they were a pile of sweaters at the Barney’s warehouse sale.

According to the OLR broker database, which is not 100 percent reliable, 1,828 Manhattan properties hit the market in the four weeks between Sept. 19 and Oct. 17.  That’s an average of 457 for each of those weeks.  For the following four-week period, ending Sunday, the number of new listings fell to 1,502, an 18 percent drop and an average of approximately 375 a week.

Contrast that 375 average to how many properties were newly offered for sale in the fourth week of the most recent period: 288.  Given that the relatively small number of additions to the OLR database had to drag down the four-week average, the trend is pretty obvious.

At the same time, the number of listings taken off the market has started to creep up.  During the second four-week period–let’s call it a month–that sorry segment grew 6 percent from the previous month, from 1,043 to 1,107.

Just wait for the next month to see even more dramatic change.

Most of the properties that went into hibernation over the holidays will be back not only seeming stale, but being stale.  Yet you can expect to see fresh listings held in abeyance until after Christmas and New Year’s.  There’s a strong a possibility, though not a certainty, that the owners were not so desperate to sell that they couldn’t wait and not so pressed that they’ll negotiate a bargain price–at least not right away.

The figures do suggest that there can be good buying opportunities for buyers and equally good ones for sellers.

With listing brokers trying to make the best of the situation, there may be other opportunities as well during the seasonal slump–a cup of mulled cider, chocolate-chip cookies or perhaps MacIntosh apples offered by listing brokers, all meant to make visitors feel at home.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Web site


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