At Manhattan’s luxury buildings, doormen don’t just hold the doors — they hold the keys.
Which is why an impending strike, set to begin at midnight, could turn a lot of desirable listings into pumpkins, according to industry insiders. Without doormen, many apartments may be off limits.
So far, ongoing contract negotiations haven’t panned out between the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which represents around 30,000 building service workers, and the building owners’ Realty Advisory Board.
This has some in the industry nervous, according to Douglas Heddings, founder of Heddings Property Group, an affiliate of Charles Rutenberg Realty. Heddings said that the threat of a possible strike has emboldened many buyers to get in while they can.
“We have buyers now who are saying ‘I want to get in today,’ because they’re worried about having access tomorrow,” Heddings said. “Some buildings are prohibiting showings during the strike.”
Richard Grossman, executive director of downtown sales with Halstead Property, said that while he believes buyers will be understanding, there will be disruptions.
Grossman has told his staff to cancel open houses this weekend if the strike goes on, and has encouraged brokers to work with individual owners to coordinate visits.
One of his agents said that a building he’s showing is offering identification cards to brokers for entry as a way to keep listings available.
“Quite frankly, we don’t have these strikes very often so there isn’t a lot of precedent,” Grossman said, noting that the timing of this dispute, “at the height of the season,” is far from ideal.
Fred Peters, president of Warburg Realty, noted that residents may not want outsiders wandering through their buildings without a doorman present.
“I think most doorman buildings are likely to suspend showings,” Peters said.
As for losing foreign buyers because of the strike, Peters said that might already be a moot point.
“One can’t be that concerned with the European buyers,” Peters said, alluding to the recent volcano eruption in Iceland. “They can’t fly out anyway.”