In the annals of New York City’s residential market, “New York on Pause” will be reduced to one day on the market.
As the city began to shut down to slow the spread of Covid-19 in March, the Real Estate Board of New York ordered the 90 companies that publish listings from its Residential Listing Service to stop displaying the “days on market metric.”
Now, as the five boroughs near the second phase of reopening — which will allow in-person showings again — REBNY has announced that it will treat the past nearly three months as one day on all its public-facing listings. StreetEasy, which does not use the trade organization’s RLS, will do the same.
So if a property was on the market for 45 days as of March 20, when REBNY’s order began, StreetEasy and other public-facing portals will show that it’s been listed for 46 day once phase 2 officially kicks in.
REBNY believes its approach to reintroducing tracking of days on market strikes the balance of having brokers “get back to business in a seamless, safe and productive way while providing home sellers and buyers with information they can trust,” according to a statement from John Canniffe, head of REBNY’s RLS.
Veteran analysts who track the city’s residential market criticize the measure for obscuring market transparency.
“I just will never agree to hiding [data],” said appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel. “Everything needs to be explained and that’s how you make your market transparent.”
Miller — and others including Donna Olshan of Olshan Realty and Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs — raised similar concerns in March.
But many sellers and brokers fear that tacking on three months to a listing during a time when the city effectively shut down could hurt property values. If a property lingers on the market for a long time, some buyers and renters may use that as leverage to negotiate prices down.
The broker group, the New York Residential Agent Continuum, initiated the push to stop counting days on market back in March by calling on Zillow Group’s popular portal, StreetEasy, to stop displaying the days on market metric. The agent and brokerage community at large was supportive of NYRAC’s position.
Though StreetEasy rebuffed NYRAC’s request at first, calling it a “tactic of obscuring, obfuscating or hiding basic facts,” the portal ultimately reversed course a few days after REBNY’s order.
StreetEasy at the time said features like counting days on market or promoting open houses were “no longer accurate tools or representations of a listing.”
In determining how to reintroduce the metric now, Canniffe noted that REBNY worked alongside officials and industry leaders, including StreetEasy, to determine how to account for the past three months’ stay-at-home order.
Critics like Miller, however, maintain that it was a strategic mistake.
“It just implants uncertainty into data that’s benign reported about the performance of the market,” he said. “It makes the market broker-centric instead of consumer-centric.”
Heather McDonough Domi, founding chairperson of NYRAC, countered saying that it was a way to protect sellers’ property values.
“This directly impacts the bottom line for the consumer [selling a home],” she said. “Considering the market was frozen for all practical purposes, the only response to days on the market would be to freeze them as well. I don’t see how you could do it any other way.”
Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]