At the Core – Navigating the New Normal

This month, we discuss the essentials of buying, selling, and negotiating in the new real estate market.

Which way is the NYC economy heading?

By any account, the New York market is thriving. The economy is booming, with 76,000 new jobs added to the city in the last 10 years, and more increases to come. Because of the exceptional concentration of talent, companies from across the globe continue to flock here—promising durability for our thriving times.

And that’s true across all five boroughs. Amazon’s choice to move to Queens/Long Island City stands as clear evidence to what is unfolding in technology and medicine: the move is typical of what we might expect in the years to come: more well-paying jobs, more spending, and growth.

The signs of NYC’s healthy economy are exciting, and they’ve created anticipation about where our market is headed. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we feel it’s safe to say that New York will continue to be a highly desirable global capital in which to invest.

Transitioning to the new normal

Buyers and sellers alike are still adjusting to the current housing market. Over the last couple of years, that market has been re-calibrating: settling gently into its natural valuation. And across NYC, property owners and investors are still transitioning to the “new normal.”

The new normal involves a return to traditional values in terms of real estate. When our parents bought property, they knew they were making at least a 30-year investment. While most buyers today may not stay in the same place for as long, they should plan for an investment cycle of about five to 10 years.

As buyers and sellers adjust to the current market at different rates, there are bound to be some differences in approach. A buyer and seller who aren’t on the same plane regarding the current market will inevitably clash on pricing. But a broker who’s in tune with the current market can bridge that gap and help both parties reach a meeting of the minds and land on an accurate market trade.

Negotiating in the new market

Buyers often ask us what percentage of a discount, on average, they can expect for each potential purchase (for example, can they take a two to four percent discount across the board?). They assume that we can bring them the exact same discount on any property out there. While it’s an understandable question, it’s ultimately unanswerable. Because each property is different, especially in NYC, negotiation won’t work the same way in every situation — there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Even in a single building, individual units often sell for vastly different prices. Variations in pricing necessitate variations in negotiation approach. That means adapting your negotiation strategy for each individual property is crucial.

Savvy sellers who have transitioned to the new market will price their properties accordingly. Understandably when this is the case, it is logical that we would not apply the same negotiation strategy as in the case of a property in another building, which is overpriced and has been sitting on the market for a number of months. A seller who has priced aggressively in order to sell knows it—and is doing so to get a deal done. This is a very different stance than a seller who doesn’t have a firm grasp on where the market is and chooses to enter the market highly overpriced. Therefore, sellers who have already adapted to the new normal will tighten their expectations, allowing for less variance between asking and closing prices. Inevitably this will affect the approach in one kind of bid vs. the other.

With that in mind, a negotiator must be firm in their market knowledge and confident in their ability to pin down pricing. Negotiation is an art, especially in our current environment, that requires both creativity and the ability to intelligently structure and think out-of-the-box. Each phase of the process must be carefully considered and strategized—with the understanding that timeframes are flexible and everything is open for discussion.

Our New Year’s advice to you

As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 approaches, our guidance is three-fold:

First, don’t procrastinate buying or selling a property. If you’re thinking about taking that step, you’re in the perfect place to do so now.

Second, work with a solid negotiator. You’re not likely to get a better deal in the near future than you are now, but you are likely to get the best deal possible if you partner with a trusted real estate professional. (And by that, we mean us!)

Third, embrace the new normal.

Marie & Jeff

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