Are there actual people of means who are NOT running from New York as fast as they can? With no theater, no concerts, little indoor dining at restaurants, the conventional wisdom, especially in the media, abandoned New York to its fate as a lawless “anarchist jurisdiction” whence anyone with any sense was fleeing. How then, that sales numbers in the city are improving week over week. Who is seeking out these properties? And why did they buy?
It’s alive! The sidewalks are inhabited by pedestrians (mostly masked, often incorrectly!) and the streets are full of cars. At rush hour it’s tough to find a cab. There are more straphangers on both buses and subways. As to real estate buyers, they come for the most part from the city and its environs. A little research unlocks the secrets of who is buying property:
● The Seize-the-timers: This buyer has longed for years to own an apartment in the city, but for a variety of reasons the time and the price have never been right. Now they are. A number of buyers in today’s market see this as their opportunity to get into the market, whether as a primary resident or a pied-a-terre buyer. Some were renters, some want to return from the suburbs or at least have a flag planted in the city. These buyers mostly purchase smaller units.
● The Step-uppers: For this group, the drop in prices during the second quarter has created the perfect opportunity to step up. They understand that simple mathematics demonstrates the desirability of moving to a larger space in a more depressed market. These buyers are excited that the delta between their current home and the home of their dreams has shrunk significantly over the past year, and they are making sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
● The Walk-to-schoolers: For this group of parents, they are committed to the city but COVID-19 has made them uncomfortable about the ways in which their kids have historically gotten to school. Maybe they are moving from Tribeca to the Upper East Side, or from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Wherever they are coming from, they are moving to a home within walking distance of their kids’ schools.
● The Cash-and-carriers: they wanted to move to the suburbs until they saw the bidding wars and the skyrocketing pricing for every house they approached. Suddenly a purchase in town looked a whole lot better!
● The Yearning-to-breathe-freers: These buyers, mostly already NYC dwellers, don’t want to be trapped indoors again. They want outdoor space so that, if moving around becomes restricted again, they can easily go outside. In post-lockdown New York, a terrace and even a balcony have become sought-after amenities.
● The Quicker-picker-uppers: they want a great deal. They will bid low on four different properties at once, waiting to see which one gives them the best price. They negotiate aggressively but then they move fast.
Far from being in the doldrums, market activity has increased in each two week period since July. While it has not reached pre-COVID levels in volume, and almost certainly will not for some months, deal flow ticks up each fortnight. Good inventory comes on the market each week for compelling prices. In two or three years, when New York is fully New York again, today’s buyers will feel confident that these purchases represented smart, future-oriented thinking.