With the number of apartments for sale in Manhattan last month at its lowest level in 13 years, real estate brokers in New York City have had to develop non-traditional tactics for both drumming up inventory and selling homes. One of these strategies includes off-market deals––what has become known as “whisper listings”––when a property is quietly shopped among a small circle of well-connected brokers but never actually put on the market for the public to see.
Whisper listings were initially reserved for properties on the ultra-high-end market, generally with a price tag of $20 million or more; however, as sellers have realized the advantage of low inventory, this approach has spread to other price points, including apartments below $1 million.
“Sellers feel cocky,” said Brian K. Lewis, associate broker at Halstead Property. “Sellers feel like they have the ball. In an improving economy with no inventory, they have the asset people want.”
Whether the seller is a celebrity hoping to keep their transactions out of the tabloids, a landlord looking to avoid upsetting their tenants prematurely, or simply homeowners who don’t want strangers touring their home, this tactic is appealing in a variety of circumstances. It can also be useful for creating inventory.
“We as brokers know everything is always for sale at a price,” said Shaun Osher, chief executive of CORE brokerage, referencing his growing database of people willing to sell given the right circumstances.
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