Open houses become full houses

Heavily attended open houses are the place to be in Manhattan, and the constant crowds are more evidence that the residential market is resurgent.

They “are mobbed, with 50 people, 70 people,” said Frederick Peters, president of Warburg Realty Partnership.

Some people say that an unusually warm winter has spurred more open-house activity.

But Peters does not subscribe to the seasonality argument. He said he has seen as many people frequenting open houses on bitterly cold days as on warmer ones. Any connection between weather and real estate is merely a correlation, he said.

Nellie Wilson, a senior associate in the Carnegie Hill office of the Corcoran Group, said buyer interest is once again resulting in bidding wars.

“We’ve had very, very active open houses and some of those visits have resulted in offers,” Wilson said.

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“We’re beginning to see a bidding war” climate, although not like the same frenzy of a year and a half ago, she said.

The recent spurt of activity follows a long stretch of inactivity that began in the second quarter of 2005, when potential buyers waited on the sidelines — in many cases opting to rent — for prices to drop.

Starting in November, sellers started pricing their apartments more realistically, real estate pros said.

“Buyers and sellers have finally come onto the same page,” said Kathy Braddock, co-founder of real estate consulting firm Braddock + Purcell and the New York City real estate company Charles Rutenberg Realty.

A stable economy, good wages, flat interest rates, the Nov. 7 Congressional election and buzz about record Wall Street bonuses reignited interest in the market.

It’s those buyers, partly, that waited out the market by renting who are attending the open houses.

“[They are the ones] soaking up the sales inventory,” said Jeffrey Jackson, co-founder of appraisal firm Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson.