New York real estate hit by coronavirus, market decline

Wealth

Residential buildings Central Park Tower and 220 Central Park South (left) rise above Columbus Circle on December 26, 2018 in New York City.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

Plunging stocks and coronavirus fears are starting to hit the New York City real estate market.

There were 44 open houses that had zero traffic the weekend of March 7-8, according to Fritz Frigan, executive director of sales and leasing at the New York residential real estate brokerage Halstead. Those 44 empty open houses represented 13% of all open houses, up from 9% two weeks earlier.

The average attendance at open houses in New York fell 27% to an average of 4.1 people per open-house from an average of 5.6 on Feb. 23, before the virus was reported in New York.

“With nervousness about their decimated stock portfolios comes insecurity about real estate valuations,” Frigan said. “If buyers feel that values of real estate will further depreciate because of the virus and financial instability, they will postpone their decisions to buy.”

Manhattan real-estate was already in a two-year slump before the markets and virus fears, seeing eight quarters of declining sales.

Sellers are now even more reluctant to list their homes, fearing falling prices and the risks of having strangers touring their apartments. Early spring is usually a prime selling season in New York. Yet this year, according to real estate appraiser Miller Samuel, listings for the year to date barely increased, up 2%, while last year’s listing growth during the same time period grew 9%.

“Sellers are holding back on listing their properties at the moment,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel.

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