Property Grunt

Monday, October 03, 2005

Report from the front: A game of real estate chicken

The Grunt has returned from the open house front with more bubblicious news. Traffic was dismal and buyer feedback was not encouraging. One group of buyers commented that they had noticed the current inventory was old and of low quality.

The Grunt had the displeasure of meeting an agent who joined the open house line up. I have no idea how this agent was able to get this listing which was in the million dollar range since I have never heard of her company and she acted like she was the cock of the walk. My only satisfaction is in the knowledge that it will be months until that apartment sells. And when it does, it will be for a reduced price and she will be getting her ass reamed by her seller and buyers on a daily basis.

Another party of buyers relayed an amusing story at an open house located on Park between 33rd and 36th street. I am intentionally being as broad as possible since I do not want to embarrass the broker. When the buyers were being escorted to see an apartment in the building, they were followed into the by the female counterpart of Old Gil who begged them to come her open houses and that she was desperate to sell. Her angst was so palatable they thought she was the owner of the apartments. The buyers agreed probably fearing that the broker would toss herself out of the nearest window. The apartment was vacant and nothing to write home about. Besides the price and condition of the apartment what really turned them off was the brown water coming out of the tap.

My analysis of this situation is that it has become a game of real estate chicken. Buyers are determined to wait it out till prices drop or new properly priced inventory comes on the market. Sellers are still juiced up on the market high of previous years despite indications that the buzz maybe gone and the hangover has begun.

Both parties are under the gun. Buyers need a place to live and want to build equity instead of tossing money away on rent. Some buyers are starting families and are in need of more room. Others are working in the city, which require a residence in Manhattan.

Sellers are also slowly getting pushed off the catbird seat as they wait for that motivated buyer who may never come. Some sellers are sweating as they are putting out cash for maintenance and mortgages on a property they no longer need and are eager to liquidate. Some sellers are in the process of setting up a domino deal to buy another home but the catalyst of this chain reaction is the sale of their primary home. But the sale must be for the listed price to cover the cost of their new purchase. It is all just a question of who will be the first to blink.

Besides higher oil prices and mortgage rates, I am curious what other aggravations the winter will bring us. If it is a harsh one, we are boned.

On a lighter note I was watching Breaking Bonaduce, which is a reality show that chronicles Danny Bonaduce’s therapy, marital problems, prescription and alcohol drug abuse and his tendency to stick steroid infused syringes in his buttocks. (Yes. I have weird sense of what is light.) Out of curiosity I did a search on IMDB and I found that Mr. Bonaduce’s connection to the Manhattan real estate market. Albeit through the channel of 6 degrees of separation, it seems his ex-wife Setsuko Hattori is a successful real estate agent in Manhattan. Google never ceases to amaze me.