Property Grunt

Monday, February 28, 2005

Its snowing but real estate keeps on going

There is a noreaster blowing through the east coast and has proceeded to pound the Manhattan and the tri state area. Weather plays a quirky roles in real estate.

Winter time is when real esate usally slows down particuarly for rentals due to the fact peopel's desire to walk around in the cold begins to wane considerable. The holidays also puts a huge crimp in demand since people are occupied with buying gifts and avoiding inlaws.

Bad weather however has no affect on sales and I say this from experience. When the first blizzard carpet bombed Manhattan the assumption was that no one would show up for the open houses. WRONG! Buyers stampeded to anything that had a sign in sheet. The market stops for nothing.

Although it is extremely aggravating the best time to look at homes is probably during the winter for the following reasons.

1. You are able to see how well the apartment holds up under harsh conditions. If the apartment has poor insulation in the windows or is not well heated it will become quite apparent when it is 30 below. You can also see how well maintained the building is. If it snows, does the management company have the sidewalk shoveled and salted immediately? I know a doorman at one building who watches the news and if he hears anything about snow or rain he puts out the rubber mats in the lobby because he knows what mess it will make without them and how dangerous it will be for tenants because the floors are marble.

2. You have better chances in getting a better deal in the winter if the owners mistimed putting it on the market and it has attracted very few qualified buyers and if the home is a fixer upper requiring repairs that can easily done by the buyer.

3. Out of town buyers have a harder time getting into Manhattan allowing more opportunity for local buyers.

If you decide to stalk open houses during the winter you should do the following.

1. Figure out a plan of attack. Decide what areas look at whether it is Murray Hill or the West Village and decide on how many open houses you will attend.

2. Organize the times and locations and check on the status of the open houses by contacting brokers representing the homes. If there is a huge snowstorm there is a probablity some brokers will cancel their open houses. All brokers have cell phones so get their contact info so you will be able to get real time answers. If you have a broker representing you they should be fufilling these duties for you. If they are not, tell them to get with the program or drop them.

3. Think airport. I am always at least two hours early for a flight because I have to taken in consideration of the check in and security procedures that eat up alot of time and it is better to be early than late. The same philosophy applies to open houses. You want to leave early because the city could be completely congested or roads are closed for construction and you could be delayed. On the weekends certain subway lines are closed for repairs. NY1's website has a weather that is updated every ten minutes so you can check on the conditions of the weather and the MTA's website has service advisort section that informs riders of any changes in the subway system. It may take longer to go through other open houses than others because of building policy. In one building I work in, buyers have to wait in the lobby for a broker to escort them. You also may take more time examing the apartment especially if it is one of interest to you. Of course you can always come back but the market is so hot that it is not uncommon for apartments to get snatched up the day of the open houses.

4. Keep the showsheets and write down important notes like whether the apartment gets good light or what the building is like.