Friday, April 24, 2020

Halstead Open House Index - report from weekend of March 15, 2020

Hello Halstead Open House Index supporters and subscribers!

How are you adjusting to this new corona order of things? Is someone writing a screenplay or a book with a working title “Open Houses in the Time of Coronavirus”? And before I go into averages, just know that Midboro Management has prohibited open houses in all of their buildings. I just heard that 50 Lexington Avenue did the same. Orsid Management sent a long e-mail instructing owners and brokers on how they will operate during the coronavirus siege. Did you get it? If not, e-mail me privately, I will send it to you. Also, Tudor Realty cancelled all closings for the time being. Share news from the front lines, and I will include in my newsletter next week.

As expected, the average attendance in NYC cratered last weekend. The average fell to 2.36, from 181 open house surveys received. The number of open houses held last weekend dropped dramatically. There were 3927 scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but it is a safe bet that much fewer were actually held. There was a slew of e-mails on Saturday and Sunday morning informing us that “open house was cancelled.” This is 28% less open houses scheduled this past weekend compared to the weekend of March 8. On average, each weekend this year, from January 5 to February 16, 5279 open houses were held. I expect the number of open houses planned for this coming weekend to drop further.

The average of 2.36 per open houses is 42% less traffic, compared to the weekend earlier when our Index recorded 4.10. In turn, 4.10 was 14% less than the weekend of March 1., when we recorded 4.77. And March 1 was 15% down from the weekend of February 23, when we recorded 5.62 visitors per open house. All in all, we are witnessing a 58% reduction in traffic at open houses from February 23 to March 15. But not as bad as the stock market, which is down about 33%, as I am writing this on Wednesday at 1pm.

32% of open houses in our survey had zero traffic. 58 open houses reported zero, out of 181 in our survey. If that % holds across the board, it means that 1256 open houses last weekend had zero attendees. Very gloomy!

Still, some first open houses had very good attendance, damn the crowds and risk of the virus! Accolade for the most visited open house goes again to Amelia Gewirtz and Andrew Phillips from Halstead. Their first open house at 146 ½ Java Street in Greenpoint attracted 32 buyers! Here in Amelia’s words: “Not even CDC could stop the crowd from beloved 146 ½ Java premier open house! Wow! 5 offers, multiples over ask, within 2 days. Think positive NYC, we will get through this. Hong Kong is back to eating at outdoor cafes!” Top four open houses by the number of visitors were in Brooklyn. 

According to my estimate, there were roughly 2453 buyers hopping from one open house to another this past weekend. Margin of error: huge. Here is the dataset. Let’s check the action in each borough:

Manhattan – the average fell to 1.79 per open house. It was 4.03 the weekend earlier, a 55% drop!! Shocking to see UWS below the average with 1.73 from 22 open houses. UES was above the average with 2.68 from 31 open houses. Midtown East was dreadful with 1.03 from 29 open houses. See the rest below.

Brooklyn – the average fell to 4.62, not bad when compared to weekend prior of 4.88. Just 5.3% drop for Brooklyn. If we remove top three record open houses (with 32, 15 and 15 attendees), the average drops significantly to just 2.77. Perfect example how small sample sizes in statistics skews the averages. See all details below.

Bronx – the average dropped to 2.00 per open house, from 2.31 the weekend earlier. Just two surveys received from the Bronx agents.

Queens – the average dropped to 3.54, from 5.23 recorded the week earlier. 32% drop in Queens. 13 surveys received from Queens, so again: beware of the small sample sizes.

Staten Island – 1.5 attendees on average from two open houses received from the Richmond County.

Size – JR4s and 1BRs apartment were most visited (2.75 and 2.53 respectively). Slow at studio open houses with 1.52.

Price – Best traffic in $2M-$3M range (5.62), helped with those record open houses in Brooklyn. Slowest was in $3M+ range and $1M-$2M.

Condition – the wrecks (8.00) won this time, and “excellent/mint” (2.58) came in second.

First Open House – again large premium for first open houses (5.13) vs. just 1.79 for the “stale” ones.

By Appointment Only – “Normal” open houses saw 2.55 attendees and “by appointment only” just 1.71. Huge increase in number of By Appointment Only open houses: 22% this past weekend, vs. just 7% the weekend prior.

StreetEasy – just eight open houses were marked as not being on StreetEasy and their traffic was 1.63. 173 open houses that were advertised on StreetEasy recorded attendance of 2.39. 27% premium for advertising on StreetEasy.

This is all for today. As the last week, I decided to share some of the most interesting comments you left in the survey (to see them all click on the dataset).

Miles Chapin: “Normally I would have thought about 25-30 people would show up for the first OH for this landmark townhouse in the Hunter's Point Historic District. We had at least 12 (that many signed in, but it was a bit of a madhouse) which is a dozen more than I was expecting.”

Mallory Brown: “*Has 900sf of private outdoor with outdoor kitchen. Can’t believe we had so many people. I thought it would be ghost town. We are pulling off the market tomorrow- hoping one of these interested parties (or more than one!) make offers even though we will be off market. Multiple parties say they are submitting but they said that last week and nothing happened - so needless to say, we are taking this day by day.”

Doreen Mangan: “Exactly half the number of groups who visited last Sunday, which was the first open house. I was pleased with the turnout, given the current environment. Some seemed to be beginning their search, but there were serious buyers there, too. I had booties, disposable gloves, Lysol wipes, etc., as before. As I mentioned last week, there's tight inventory in Washington Heights for apartments this size, and they're in great demand. We have one offer, and expect more.”

Milutin Nikodijevic: “I was very surprised that I had 8 people given all the external factors in play. It was the second open house. The first one had 6 people and no SE exposure. For this open house I did put it on SE. I have 2 offers on the apartment.”

Bridget Harvey: “At this price point & for first open house, we usually have at least 20 parties. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and 6 parties meant I was able to sanitize between parties, so I’m counting as a success.”

Chris B Georgakopoulos:The buyers were out and about Sunday - Hallelujah! Perhaps it was the glorious weather or maybe a feeling of resistance against any interruption of a well thought out life plan. How strong is our desire for security and comfort that even in the midst of a pandemic, we through caution to the wind and take flight to safety via house hunting. There's nothing more secure and comforting than owning a home. The ultimate place to self-quarantine. Sending blessings to all.”

Joanne Gay: “Outdoor space. FYI. My open house was shut down by the building after 25 mins. Not notice was given to owners not to have open houses. We are in new territory for sure!”

Best of luck at your open houses this weekend. Share your experiences, this shall pass too.

Wash your hands and the best advice I heard on Twitter was: Behave like you already have a virus and you do not want to give it to anyone!

See below the line chart of attendance in 2020. The week between Feb 23rd and March 1 was when first case of Corona virus was announced in NYC. The chart tells you all that you need to know!

PS: Do not forget to check my reports on my blog at Also, check the link to dataset. (in the comments section you may find the exact address of the property, or if there was a recent price drop, outdoor space, etc.)  

Best regards,

Fritz Frigan
To Sign Up to Receive Halstead’s Open House Index Report Click Here

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Halstead Open House Index - report from weekend of March 8, 2020

Good morning Halstead Open House Index contributors and followers!

The numbers are in from the 2nd weekend after the coronavirus was detected in New York City, the fear and worry is creeping in, and in our field, everyone is asking: how is this going to affect buyers and sellers of real estate?

Before I come to my weekly recap of the last weekend’s numbers, quick note. Yesterday morning I inserted one more question in the survey: “Is Your Listing On StreetEasy?” By this morning I received 15 new replies and you can read the numbers on the bottom. As the number of listings labeled “Not on StreetEasy” is growing, I think it will be interesting to track the open house traffic in this category.

So, here they are. The average attendance last weekend in New York City was 4.10 per open house. I received 340 replies, fantastic increase of 25% from the weekend prior, when we received 270 surveys. So, does this number indicate that panic over the virus is affecting the market? I’d say yes, but it is more complicated; it is the virus AND the stock market. Of course, these two are connected. The buyers really do not want to liquidate their stocks in order to pay for real estate. When one’s portfolio is down 20-25%, this is a reasonable position to take. With nervousness about their decimated stock portfolios comes insecurity about real estate valuations. 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. In the short run, in my opinion. If we are able to replicate Chinese efforts in curbing the virus, then by mid-July or early August we should see the markets and buyers confidence coming back to normal. 

Let’s put this number 4.10 into perspective. On February 23rd (before the virus news) the average was 5.62 per open house. Followed by the drop of 15% to 4.77 per open house on the weekend of March 1 (after the news about the virus in NYC broke out). This followed by another 14% drop in traffic, from 4.77 to 4.10 this past weekend. 4.10 per open house represents the slowest weekend in the first quarter of 2020. The true indicator will be to watch the traffic at the rest of the weekends in March and early April. A number of you also left me interesting comments in the surveys, I decided to print some of them at the bottom of this report.  

44 open houses reported zero traffic, this is 12.9% from all surveys received. Last weekend that percentage was 11.5% and the weekend before that it stood at 9%.

The most visited open house honorary mention goes to Zoe Kellerhals-Madussi from LG Fairmont. Her first open house at 340 E 80th Street attracted 31 parties! (who is afraid of virus on Upper East Side?). Here, in her own words: “Hi Fritz, wow so cool. Thank you! Answers below. 1.Why was your exclusive so attractive? The exclusive was attractive because the price is right and the layout is great. It needs work but it ticks off all the boxes in terms of the essential needs one would seek for in an apartment. 2.  How did you handle the crowd? We were very surprised to see so many people. The building requires we bring attendees up from the lobby so two agents from our team were present. We just let attendees do their thing. We have been doing second showings all week. 3. Any offers? Yes multiple offers. We are considering accepting one by the end of the day.”

Here is the dataset. Let’s check the action in each borough:

Manhattan – the average dropped to 4.03 per open house, a drop of 14% from the weekend earlier. Busy in Other Upper Manhattan Areas (8.25) and Soho & Tribeca (8.00), East Village (5.60), Chelsea (4.89). Upper West Side (4.80) and Upper East Side (4.54) were above the average. Slow in Midtown West (2.17), Midtown East (2.74) and Harlem (2.68). Last year, on March 10, 2019 weekend, the average was 3.34 - and there was no virus or Dow Jones madness then! See the rest of the numbers below and beware of the averages with small sample sizes. We received 264 responses from open houses in Manhattan.

Brooklyn – the average dropped to 4.88, from 5.53 recorded the weekend earlier, an 11.75% drop of traffic in Brooklyn. Busy in Crown Heights (12.00), Fort Greene (9.50) and Park Slope (7.50). Slow in Dumbo (2.00), Bed Stuy (2.00) and Cobble Hill (2.50), but again: beware of the small sample sizes. We received 42 replies from Brooklyn. Last year, on March 10, 2019 weekend, the Brooklyn average was 4.13.

Bronx – the average dropped to 2.31 per open house, from 4.10 recorded the weekend earlier. We received 16 replies from the Bronx open houses.

Queens – the average went up, to 5.23, from 4.33 recorded at the weekend prior. Anything is possible with low sample sizes – we received just 13 replies from the Queens open houses.

Staten Island – two visitors at one open house reported from the Richmond County.

Size – Multi-units buildings were strong with 7.67. Among apartments, 1BRs (4.79) and 2BRs (4.39) had the most traffic. Slow at studio open houses with 2.46). See the rest below.

Price – the most traffic was in $1M-$2M price range, the slowest in $3M+ range.

Condition – fairly equal distribution this week, somehow “Mint/Excellent” condition lagged with 3.80 per open house. Are you placing a bit too much value on the renovations?

First Open House – 291% more traffic at first open houses vs. at the “stale” ones. 9.21 vs. 3.16.

By Appointment Only – 74% more traffic at “normal” open houses vs. those advertised “by appointment only”. I think with the virus issue we will see a shift to more open houses “by appointment only” or to no open houses at all!

Listing on StreetEasy? – received just 17 replies, so don’t make much of the averages, the sample is too small. 5.87 for StreetEasy “YES” and 5.00 for StreetEasy “NO”.

As promised, I am quoting here some comments I received from you this week:

Mallory Brown Bogard: “Terrace (private) is the crown jewel of this home. 900 sq ft with outdoor kitchen, green egg smoker, custom wood sectional seating, and more. Glad the coronavirus didn’t keep the buyers away!!”

Doreen Mangan: “I was pleased with the turn-out, given virus concerns. Was ready with booties, disposable gloves, and Lysol wipes. Of the 18 parties, possibly three were neighbors. There isn't much inventory for an apartment this size in Hudson Heights/Washington Heights at the moment, and at less than $1million, in a lovely coop, there is a great deal of interest.”

Peter Poljan: “Might be interesting to know how many people are doing by appointment open houses due to coronavirus.”

Debra Hoffman: “I wanted to mention that we just dropped the price on this apartment to the basement and only had three attendees. I am beginning to wonder if fear of going out and the coronavirus is affecting open houses.”

Beth Gittleman: “Despite interest rate lows, the fear of the coronavirus and daylight savings we think were very impactful this past weekend.”

Nicole Beauchamp: “I look for the index weekly, find it valuable to see data from other open houses and notes from fellow agents. This was first open house since the week of non-stop corona virus news in NYC- and I wonder if that had any impact on people coming out at all. Very curious to see what others experienced today. This was the third open house for this listing, and the first one where we had zero attendance.”

On another note – I think it is high time for all of us in the brokerage industry to get truly politically active. Political winds from Albany and the City Council are so damaging and unfavorable for our industry. Poorly written rental laws from June of last year (with so many unintended, bad, consequences) is just one example. The pied-a-terre tax law, if passed, will be devastating. We need to start supporting political candidates with some common business sense. Let me know what you think.

Lastly, I’d like to hear from you more about how the virus issue is affecting your business? Do you see sellers taking their properties off the market? Or delaying placing them on the market? Do you see buyers pulling out of deals? Do you see buildings forbidding open houses? Share here and I will print your comments next week!

Best of luck at your open houses this coming weekend. Weather forecast is good for Saturday and Sunday. Keep up the good work and encourage your colleagues in the industry to participate in our survey.


PS: Do not forget to check my reports on my blog at Those of you comfortable, you can write in here the exact address of your exclusive, so it becomes visible to all. Also, check the link to dataset. (in the comments section you will find interesting data, such as addresses of properties or if there was a recent price drop, outdoor space, etc.)  

Best regards,

Fritz Frigan
To Sign Up to Receive Halstead’s Open House Index Report Click Here