Market decline

New York real estate hit by market decline, virus fears

Residential buildings Central Park Tower and 220 Central Park South (left) rise above Columbus Circle on December 26, 2018 in New York City.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

Falling stocks and coronavirus fears are starting to hit the New York City real estate market.

Forty-four open houses had no traffic last weekend, according to Fritz Frigan, executive director of sales and leasing at New York City residential real estate brokerage Halstead. Those 44 empty open houses represented 13% of all open houses, up from 9% two weeks earlier.

Average NYC open house attendance has dropped 27% to an average of 4.1 people per event compared to an average of 5.6 on February 23, before the virus was reported in New York.

“Along with the nervousness of their decimated stock portfolios comes insecurity about real estate valuations,” Frigan said. “If buyers believe that the value of real estate is going to depreciate further because of the virus and financial instability, they will postpone their decision to buy.”

Manhattan real estate was already in a two-year slump ahead of markets and virus fears, experiencing eight quarters of falling sales.

Sellers are now even more reluctant to list their homes, fearing falling prices and the risk of foreigners visiting their apartments. Early spring is typically a prime selling season in New York City, but registrations for this year have barely increased, up 2%, while last year’s registration growth over the same period has increased by 9%, according to real estate appraiser Miller Samuel.

“Sellers are holding back from putting their properties up for sale at this time,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel.