As new supply hits the market, brokers claim they would rather be the second to list a property than take an overpriced listing
(Illustration by Øivind Hovland)
It’s one thing to land a listing, but it’s quite another to sell it. And that, in a nutshell, is the conundrum in Manhattan’s residential market these days.
Agents have now been navigating the softening sales landscape for nearly two years. The inventory crunch that defined the post-recession stretch has not only let up, but it’s also swung in the opposite direction.
For-sale properties have piled up, new developments are flooding the market and buyers are taking their pretty old time.
Brokers claim that the current atmosphere has made them more selective when it comes to which listings they’ll take on.
“Anytime there’s too strong a difference between the way the buyer and seller perceives and values the market, the agent is in a much more complex situation,” said Warburg Realty President Clelia Peters. “The agent is the interpreter of those sides.”
Related: Sealing deals and taking names
Amid this confused market, this month The Real Deal took a one-day snapshot of thousands of active listings on On-Line Residential in early January to determine which NYC brokerages had the greatest dollar volume of for-sale properties on the market. We then shared that information with the firms, most of which sent us deals to help fill in our findings. The goal was to get a window in the battleground for listings, the gateway drug to the Holy Grail: a closed sale.
Despite finishing second on the more-coveted closed sales ranking, Douglas Elliman clocked in at No. 1 on this line-up with 1,187 listings valued at $5.31 billion, up 2 percent from $5.2 billion in May 2016, the last time TRD published its ranking. Those listings included new developments like 432 Park and Ian Schrager’s 160 Leroy, as well as such pricey resales as an $80 million Upper East Side townhouse at 8 East 62nd Street.
The Corcoran Group, meanwhile, took the No. 2 spot, amassing 871 listings totaling $4.13 billion.
Those two heavy hitters were followed by Sotheby’s International Realty (with 321 listings valued at $3.45 billion), Compass (with 699 listings valued at $2.29 billion) and Brown Harris Stevens (with 332 listings valued at $2.02 billion).
Together, the top 12 brokerages had 4,403 listings valued at a total of $20.6 billion — a 27 percent increase from 2016’s $16.2 billion and up 65 percent since 2015’s $12.5 billion.
Clelia Peters and Gary Malin
The average listing price for those firms was $5.2 million, up 18 percent from $4.4 million in 2016 and up 30 percent from $4 million the prior year.
But the residential market was marked by a lack of adrenaline in 2017, with too much inventory, price-sensitive buyers and lingering properties.
The Manhattan brokerage business also saw its share of drama. A high-stakes battle over who controls all of these listings and how they’re disseminated to consumers raged for much of the year, pitting listings website StreetEasy against some of city’s biggest firms.
At the moment, some firms, including Elliman and the Corcoran Group, have made peace with StreetEasy, while others have defiantly opted to withhold their properties from the website and feed them into competing systems, including the Real Estate Board of New York’s recently launched listings platform, dubbed the RLS.
“To me, that’s the most essential part of what all of us do,” said Gary Malin of Citi Habitats, referring to how the firm connects with clients. “We’re in the hospitality business. Creating systems that enable agents to be more impactful in communicating with clients is huge.”
When to land a listing
In today’s icy market, most brokerage heads agree that getting a deal done comes down to how realistic the seller is about price.
“If you don’t have the right price, that property is going to sit and sit and sit and sit,” said Elliman’s New York CEO, Steven James.
For example, the penthouse at the Richard Meier-designed 165 Charles Street finally closed in 2017 after bouncing on and off the market for more than three years as pricing jumped all over the map. The owner, British magazine publisher Louise Blouin, changed brokers three times and at one point upped the ask to $40 million.
In December 2016, Halstead Property’s Anne Prosser came in after the previous exclusive expired and listed the apartment for $29.9 million. It closed a year later, for $23.7 million. “It’s a spectacular unit,” said Prosser. “But $40 million was unrealistic.”
Part of the problem, Prosser said, was that it was competing with a crop of new luxury condo buildings in the West Village and Tribeca, including the Witkoff Group’s 150 Charles Street, Related Compa上海夜网论坛