I just attended an interesting networking session with 400 other participants in the Sotheby’s North Eastern region with participants from Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Long Island, Westchester and Nantucket, and also attended a Townhall meeting with our President and CEO, Mr. Paul Breunich.
We are continuing to evolve in this new world to best represent our customers and clients alike. Sotheby’s will be digital, and we will soon be having a digital flip brochure for our clients.
It was interesting to hear this morning what has been happening in the individual areas and how it might affect or does affect our real estate marketplace.
Even during the pandemic, there have been 27 new homes listed and 15 went into contract. The difference in Connecticut though is that you can still show a home in person Ridgefield but in Litchfield, Connecticut, is the same as Westchester with no person to person contact.
There are now so many phone calls from New York City from buyers seeking to flee the city. Unit sales are currently down 35%, and 44% in volume, BUT still movement in the powder puff market, vacant homes, and homes that feature the Matterport app, virtual appointments, videos. Sellers are standing strong on their pricing, and in many cases they feel that even if the buyer pool shrinks, it will not affect the home prices. Cash is king, and there are still a lot of people seeking cash purchases, with buyer confidence having increased. There have been some low ball offers, but the sellers so far are not budging. It will be interesting to see that with new inventory, will those prices be competitive which could affect the pricing flow. Best to be on the market now and be seen.
Beth Catrone spoke on the Long Island market. Interestingly, she felt that many buyers are thinking they will get a great price, and are waiting for that ‘cyclical crash’. New buyers are seeking homes and are serious whereas the old buyers ( who have been searching longer) are still unrealistic, and are seeking a deal.
Debi Benoit from Wellesley spoke on behalf of the company. As of January, 2010, sales were up 34% over 2019, and they were looking towards a banner year. The sales dropped by 27% in March, and now only down 3%. People have started to search and purchase again. People are searching from California as well as New York City, and the states were locked down until a week ago. Properties in the $700,000-900,000 price range are going into multiple bidding, and there are record sales across all price points which have made up for the lull in the market. Locals were frowning upon New Yorkers and people from Connecticut going to their states, and were asked to quarantine for 14 days. However, they also realized that many people have second homes in those states, have a right to be there, but there was some grumbling. With hotels being closed and Air B & B’s closed then that appeased people to a large extent.
More people are inquiring and vacant homes are very much winners in the process, as they are much easier to show and sell.
Debi recounted several stories. One being a client calling and saying that after living with their in-laws, as much as they loved them, they needed to move immediately. Another story featured a condo purchase and with the buyer wanting to buy so badly that she left money on the table (paid more than needed) in order to secure the property and obtain a better environment for herself.
Rentals are also in great demand, even furnished. Over 50% of pending sales have occurred in the past 7 weeks, and with the inventory being down by 50%, there are many multiple bids.
Brian Wickenden spoke on the market in Maine, and of course cited Matterport tours, virtual showings being key in selling homes currently. The condo market has been quite strong in the Maine (and Vermont) markets. Vacant – easier to sell.
Portland slowed down a tad, and some buyers have the ‘wait and see’ attitude. He feels that June, July and August will be stronger but with the emphasis on renovated homes.
Maine has always been attractive for second home buyers, and with the stock market strong, buying real estate is always a good investment with some of those stock market gains. The sellers in Maine are also holding firm in their prices with very few ‘fire’ sales.
A new question for buyers – “Can you see yourself being Quarantined here?”.
Westchester is GREAT!