Real Estate Weekly
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Apartment market having ‘buyers moment’

By Dan Orlando
With prices skyrocketing, condo buyers haven’t had much to be happy about over the past year. But star broker and Urban Compass president Leonard Steinberg reckons better times are ahead.

Leonard Steinberg
Leonard Steinberg

“While right now, I don’t think I’d classify this as a buyer’s market, I would consider this a buyer’s moment,” Steinberg said at a panel discussion at last week’s NYC Real Estate Expo in the Midtown Hilton. “Because I believe when you have a lot of sellers thinking about holding off on putting their apartments on the market until the new year, you’re going to have a potential shortage and sitting around of certain apartments for the months of November and December. And I’ve often found that in those months there are some opportunity buys.”

Steinberg shared the stage with Nikki Field of Sotheby’s International Realty, Bruce Cohen of Cohen & Frankel LLP, Kathy Braddock, managing director of William Raveis New York City, Nile Lundgren, president of Dallien Realty, and Lyon Porter, managing director of Town Residential.

Discussing the New York real estate market in 2014 and the challenges ahead, the panelists seemed to share the increasingly common sense that the residential market is becoming unbalanced. “I think there is a shortage of buyers in certain areas and an oversupply of buyers in other areas,” Steinberg said.

But the main challenge for the market, according to the panelists, is a lack of appropriately priced inventory. “I believe it is absolutely an inventory problem. For those of you sitting in this room today with a real estate license, you’re probably here not because you don’t have a lot of customers,” said Nikki Field, “but because you can’t find anything appropriate for them right now.”

“We have an inventory shortage not on the product as much as an inventory shortage on the right price product.”

Town’s Lyon Porter argued that sellers had flooded the market with units at “aspirational prices” in the hope of making a quick buck, but many of those units struggled to find takers. These two trends combined to make inventory seem bigger than it actually was. “Traditionally, we’re still pretty tight in terms of inventory,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect a surge in new inventory for 2015.
In order to bring the market back to balance, brokers have to try harder to resist excessive pricing, argued Nikki Fields. “Our job as real estate brokers right now is to continue to be realistic with the sellers,” she said.

The discussion was moderated by Vince Rocco, managing partner of Blu Realty Group.

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