New York City Real Estate’s Tornado Market: What It Means And How To Handle It – Forbes

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“How’s the market?” It’s a question every agent is asked multiple times each week. A better question for buyers and sellers in New York today would be, “What’s the market?” Sometimes buyers possess the advantage, sometimes sellers do. But what if no-one has the upper hand? I call this a tornado market.

A tornado sweeps through town on an unpredictable path, leveling one house while leaving the neighboring house intact. Today, consumers in Manhattan and upper Brooklyn are having both experiences: this property sells in two weeks with multiple offers, that one sits for weeks on the market without a showing. Often, but not always, location is the issue. Often, but not always, the issue is condition. So how do buyers and sellers know what situation they will be facing?


Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

Certain truisms remain: it takes longer and requires more marketing to sell a property in poor condition. But even in this situation, sellers can make choices that help. Paint it white or another neutral light color. Stage it, ideally with real furniture, although under the right circumstances, apartments without distinguishing architectural features can benefit from virtual staging. In fact, the more architectural features an apartment has, the less staging is needed. Elaborate moldings, very high ceilings, beautiful windows, or French doors – these should all be allowed to sing their song of glamour and style without too much interference. These architectural features can really help to sell a home that needs an infrastructure facelift. 

No amount of staging or white paint can compensate for an overly ambitious price and/or a poorly conceived remodel. Buyers will calculate a minimum cost of $500 per square foot (and often twice as much) to bring an old renovation into the 21st century. Then additional costs can soar as all the variables are accounted for. How long will the buyer need to support two homes while the new one is being renovated? How onerous and costly are the building’s renovation rules? Sellers must price with all these issues in mind.

While a smart renovation makes for a quick sale, an ill-conceived one can spell steep financial losses. A few cardinal rules: It’s probably a poor idea to eliminate either a bathroom or a bedroom (knocking down a maid’s room to create an eat-in kitchen is the exception.) Most buyers would probably prefer to have someplace to stash a guest or an additional kid than a billiard room or room-sized closet. If you buy an apartment designed by one of the great architects from the first quarter of the 20th century, don’t knock down or curve all the walls. Rosario Candela and Emery Roth had a better sense of space and style than you do! Since the pandemic, apartment owners have rediscovered the importance of privacy and with it, the value of walls!

Finally, the agent you choose matters particularly strongly in a tornado market. While experience always counts, hustle matters even more in a market like this one. Waiting for the phone to ring or the e-mail to arrive is not an adequate sales strategy. The agent a smart seller hires has an individualized marketing strategy which should include online listing, professional photography and floorplan, and multiply-pronged outreach both through social media and personal connection to appropriate agents and communities. If you, as a seller, are getting less, you are not getting enough.

Property sells in every market. In a tornado market, the goal of the seller must be to take all possible steps to minimize the risk of being flattened rather than spared by the tornado. For the buyer, the goal should be finding the right property at the right price, not paying too much but being careful not to offer too little, thus alienating even a reasonable seller. Today, the optimism engendered by a record-setting stock market and the apprehension created by the looming elections conflict, generating optimism, pessimism, and uncertainty at once. But complexity also generates opportunity for the buyers and sellers who possess the skills to harness it.

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