Here in Manhattan, home sales are starting to slow. Things that are priced well still go, but the atmosphere is worse, like a plane flight that still goes between cities but hits pockets of bumpy air. One recent example: I have a listing that moved to an accepted offer at a pleasing price very quickly, but then of course both sides couldn’t get the contract battened down with any speed.
Still, to a rookie, a down market isn’t all bad news. For one thing, when you’re building a career, you don’t suffer a business slump. Loss of income? Me? Well, I’m just getting started, so there’s no high plateau to fall from. (To reassure myself, I remember the rule I used to invoke in college when I had too much to drink: I would lie down on my rug rather than in my bed, because "you can’t fall off the floor.")
Secondly, other brokers are suddenly nice. One of the most annoying things about starting in real estate hasn’t been the clients — it’s been my cohorts. In the bull market, any broker with a couple of listings was haughty, and anyone with four listings was just too sexy for the runway. Show up at a scheduled open house? Why, my dear, I just couldn’t be bothered — not in a market where properties went to contract on the basis of Web listings. Now, any broker with four listings at least pretends to be polite, and brokers with just a couple are happy that they’re still eating — and willing to work with me to keep that trend going. Brokers’ phone manners are better, their communication overall is better, and even the divas are one degree less frosty.
Thirdly, I’m finally getting my filing done. When I was little, my dad had a wooden disk, about the size of a nickel, that he kept on his desk. One side said "A Round Tuit" and the other side, said, "You know all those things you said you would do when you got A Round Tuit?" Well, I’m the kind of procrastinator/overloaded person who needs A Round Tuit — and the current market slowdown is a little hint of one. I’m not going to pretend that I like filing, or even that I can see the top of my desk yet, but I’m chipping away at it and the piles are definitely slimmer.
Finally, this market opens up a whole segment of customers who used to say they were interested in trading up, "but I can’t afford it!" For those people — provided they have confidence in their jobs — a flat or sliding market is actually a positive. After being impossibly far apart, the rungs on the ladder are sliding closer to one another — so while it takes some persuasion to convince sellers to sell, it is possible to catch their fancy by showing them something to buy. For the first time in years, that property — the next step up — might be something that they can actually afford.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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