These are difficult times for New Yorkers in so many respects, and the residential real estate business is no exception. The number of new listings has plummeted, and many current listings have been taken off the market.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on completing our existing deals caught in this morass. I’ve personally faced over three decades of market challenges in New York City, some unprecedented like this one. Piloting these downturns requires a certain amount of resiliency and optimism. If New Yorkers have anything, it’s that.
I have been inspired to see our city come together, roll up our collective sleeves and put processes in place that allow us to work together, even when we cannot be close physically. As a result, I’ve observed many deals that have remained on track, offers having been accepted, contracts being issued and closings happening.
I may not be present physically in the office, but as an owner/manager, I keep in regular touch by phone, email and conference calls with my agents and administrative staff, working hard to make sure my firm maintains its normal business rhythm. I’m sure most of the other good firms are doing the same.
Maintaining Building Operations
Managing agents have worked closely with building boards and residents to implement contingency plans and outline safety precautions. Buildings have increased the frequency of cleaning in public areas, recommended limiting the number of people sharing the elevator and restricted deliveries (and in some cases, guests and domestic staff) from entering. Resident volunteers have also been solicited to assist with elevator operation and with trash collection and disposal in the event that staffing is unavailable.
Neighbors are being encouraged to check in on elderly residents and those who may not be able to go out for groceries or don’t have access to online services. Building intranets and electronic bulletin boards have proven to be a useful tool for residents to remain connected and offer or request assistance. If you are already planning to go to the store, slip a note under someone’s door or post a notice that you are happy to pick up items for those more at risk of venturing out. If you are well and able, be accessible, available and someone to lean on.
Thanks to smartphones, we all have a camera in the palm of our hand. Although in-person showings have been temporarily suspended, properties can still be “seen.” Agents and homeowners can work together to host FaceTime open houses and showings for potential buyers. After all, if you can watch a favorite Broadway show or visit a museum from your living room, why not access a potential future home?
Technology has granted us access and options unlike anything before. For those in the process of buying a property, there’s no need for anything to go off track. If you need a board interview, these can continue virtually. If you’re in the process of signing a contract, Governor Cuomo authorized virtual notarizations, making e-signings easy to accomplish. Buyers are also encouraged to speak with their attorney and discuss what options exist for virtual closings.
This quite difficult period in our lives will eventually calm down, and business will resume its normalcy. Maintaining a rhythm, and keeping up with how to navigate our current new normal, will keep our industry and individual businesses afloat. Stay well!