In the midst of the worst US housing slump in a decade, a wave of finance and tech layoffs and drumbeats of a potential recession, open houses in affluent New York suburbs are packed.
Offers come in fast — sometimes for hundreds of thousands over asking.
A typical scene played out on a cloudy Sunday last month in Scarsdale, a suburb about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Manhattan known for its bucolic setting and high-rated schools. At the tail end of an open house, a dozen people were still wandering in and around a 1926 Tudor-style house listed for about $1.93 million.
An older couple took video on their iPhone for their offspring too busy to attend, while a younger man walked around with his infant in a chest carrier. The house was in need of some touch-ups. Somebody whispered that the hardwood floors were scratched, another said that the refrigerator looked warped, and a pair of kitchen cabinet doors was missing. It hardly mattered.
With few other homes on the market, the 3,400-square-foot (316-square-meter) house attracted almost 100 groups of visitors, and netted six bids. It went under contract five days after the open house for $2.28 million.
“Demand is very high in all price ranges,” said Laura Miller, the listing agent with Houlihan Lawrence. “There are tons of buyers and not enough inventory.”
In New York, the economy remains strong despite layoffs at employers such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Three-day hybrid work policies, becoming standard in some industries, mean greater demand for homes with more space, but within a commutable distance.
Many sellers may be waiting until March to put homes on the market but the for-sale signs aren’t coming out yet. New listings in January so far have dropped 5% in the US, according to Realtor.com. The New York area has seen even deeper slides, with new inventory down more than 40% in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the most in the country, and more than 20% in Westchester and Bergen counties.
“We are begging people to sell right now,” said Arlene Gonnella, an agent at Weichert Realtors in Short Hills, one of New Jersey’s most expensive areas. “We are trying to tempt them with buyers who are ready, willing and able to pay up.”