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

Friday, March 6, 2020

Halstead Open House Index - report from weekend of March 1, 2020

Good morning Halstead Open House Index aficionados!

First Sunday in March and first weekend after coronavirus was finally detected in New York City. I was wondering last week if the virus scare will have an effect on the attendance. Well, it seems it didn’t – the numbers from last weekend were not bad. I am curious what are you guys doing at your open houses? Anything different? Do you shake hands? Do you offer sanitizers? Do you sneeze intentionally when you notice obnoxious buyer? (just kidding).

The average in NYC dropped to 4.77 per open house last weekend. This is indeed a large drop from the weekend prior (5.62), but Feb 23 weekend was exceptionally good. 4.77 per open house is stronger than the weekend of Feb 16 (4.19) or Feb 2 (4.20) or Jan 19 (4.17), where no one was yet paranoid about the coronavirus in NYC. Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx recorded actually stronger attendance this past weekend, then on February 23rd. Last year, on March 3rd, 2019 weekend, the NYC average was 4.35.

31 open houses reported zero traffic. This is 11.5%, creeping up, but truly slow weekends are those when this percentage is 15% or more.

The most visited open house mention goes to Amelia Gewirtz and Andrew Phillips of Halstead. They reported 54 parties at their first open house for their new exclusive at 265 Riverside Drive, a 2BR for $895K. Here in Amelia’s own words: “5 offers, highest and best today @ 1200. We are very, very methodical with everything. What makes this home unique from others in building or on block 100. Title is everything, lead photo is key. Put on web with NO ACCESS minimum a week prior. Everybody wants what everybody wants, nobody wants what nobody wants. Try to get 90 percent buyers in door within 48 hours so u r clear market feedback. And NEVER EVER, unless snow storm or monsoon, do a second open house next week. YOU ARE TELLING THE WORLD NO ONE WANTS ME. Would you put a full price offer in on Thursday if you saw open house? No open house for two weeks hints action happening and forces buyers hands if on fence. Also we priced it aggressively, it was MINT. And we sent sellers away w/baby for a week so easy access. Also we were told our presentation just with the brochure and information was refreshing from most brokers. You are selling a feeling, the feeling should feel WORTH IT including the paper stock you use to describe home.” 

There were 5421 open houses held last weekend in NYC and approximately 6844 prospective buyers were hopping from open house to open house. Here is the dataset. Let’s check the action in each borough.

Manhattan – the average went up to 4.70 per open house, a tiny increase from 4.65 recorded the weekend prior. The winning neighborhoods were Gramercy Park (7.29), Central and West Village (7.20), Washington Heights (6.75), Soho & Tribeca (6.17) and UWS (5.95). Each of these areas, except Soho & Tribeca, recorded an increase in traffic from the weekend prior. Midtown West was dreadful (1.70), Midtown East not far behind (3.08). See the rest below. We received 210 replies from Manhattan. Last year on March 3rd, 2019, Manhattan recorded 4.06.

Brooklyn – the average dropped from stratospheric 12.94 recorded on Feb 23rd weekend, to 5.53 last weekend. This is the worst Brooklyn average since January 19, 2020. Park Slope/Prospect Heights above the average with 10.40, so was Williamsburg (6.56). Slower elsewhere, see details below and beware of small sample sizes. Check first open houses reported from Dumbo, new area that replaced Bushwick. We received 36 replies from Brooklyn.

Bronx – the average climbed to 4.10, from 3.85 the weekend earlier. 10 open houses arrived from the Bronx.

Queens – the average climbed to 4.33, from 3.40, from just 9 open houses that arrived from Queens.

Staten Island – back on the charts with 3.00 average reported from two open houses. Could some of you please send your buyers to Norma Wolfe in Staten Island to buy her listing at 10 Bay Street Landing, a 1BR for $425K?

Size – Multi-unit buildings were in demand with 9.00 attendance, and so were the townhouses with 5.75. Among apartments, 2BR units were most attractive with 5.45 average. 4BRs and studios on the bottom of appeal with 3.00 and 3.66, respectively.

Price - $500K-$1M range was most visited with 5.42. The least traffic at $3M+ open house with 2.65.

First Open House – 250% more traffic at first open houses (9.45), than at the “stale” ones (3.78).

By Appointment Only – just 27% more traffic at the “normal” ones (4.85), vs. those described as “by appointment only” (3.81). This is not normal (not to myself to check the data).

This is all for today. Here is a suggestion on how to increase the number of open houses in our survey. Those of you brave enough, show this report to your managers, owners and sales directors. Encourage them to share your company’s internal data with me, so that the report will truly gain in value with 500-700 data samples each week! Another idea: those of you who appreciate this weekly recap and find it valuable, please forward it to two other agents who will be holding an open house this coming weekend and ask them to participate. Deal?

I want to share a situation that many of you may be becoming more and more familiar with. My agent showed her exclusive to one of these 1% firms (they promise the buyer 2% rebate after the closing). At the first showing the agent was in the apartment’s corner, texting, totally absent, while my agent was answering the buyer’s questions. Second showing happened by accident! The buyer met my agent in the lobby by chance, because no appointment was made, but the buyer thought his 1% agent did it! My agent spent one hour in the exclusive, alone with the buyer, answering the buyer’s questions, info about the market, condos procedure, you know – the things the buyer’s agent should have been doing. How do you feel about this? At which point we say to a co-broker: “You better be at every appointment, and you advise and communicate with your buyer, if you want to earn you 50% of our commission!”. How do you handle situations like this and where do you draw the line for the buyer’s broker to truly work and earn their commission? How do you handle buyer’s brokers not coming to your open houses and shipping their buyers to you? How do you handle buyers’ brokers who have no idea how to prepare the board package for their customers and expect you to handle most of it?

“Not-on-StreetEasy” concept is spreading. I see more and more listings coming in with this title in the subject line and on the web. Feel free to share with me your ideas on how you are pushing your listing outside StreetEasy and particularly success stories. Which web sites worked well for you? Does co-broking 7-15 days before you post your exclusive on StreetEasy works? How are your open houses visited if your exclusive is NOT on StreetEasy? (You can indicate in the comment section if your listing is not on StreetEasy). This includes rental and sales. Share and collaborate is my message to you!

Best of luck at your open houses this weekend. The weather forecast is sunny and warm. I'm sending you a friendly elbow-shake today! Also, don’t forget to wash your hands! Where I come from (Croatia), people eat two heads of garlic each day. It doesn’t kill the viruses, but for sure there’s no one closer than 6 feet from you!

PS: Do not forget to check my reports on my blog at A great suggestion from one of our readers: write in the comment section how many visitors were direct buyers and how many came with brokers. Also, write here if your exclusive is on StreetEasy or not. Those of you comfortable, you can write 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 price drop, etc.) 

Best regards,

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