Buyers Take Manhattan As Real Estate Sales Hit Record Highs

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Residential sales for Manhattan real estate have escalated to the highest levels in 14 years as buyers scooped up apartment and condo bargains after the COVID-19 pandemic drove many out of bustling cities, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (April 2).

Some 1,500 addresses in Manhattan were under contract for sale in March, the most in any one month since 2007, according to UrbanDigs, a real estate analytics firm. The increase follows stifled pandemic demand in the early months of the pandemic. 

“We have a rubber-band effect going on in Manhattan,” Noah Rosenblatt, co-founder of UrbanDigs, told the WSJ. “We pulled the rubber band one way, in a bad direction, during 2020, and now it’s kind of shooting back the other way.”

By way of example, the average Manhattan co-op went for $780,000 in the first quarter, which reflected a decline of 3.8 percent year-over-year, broker Douglas Elliman told the WSJ. Condominiums sold for an average price of $1.55 million, down 4.7 percent.

In May 2020, real estate values in Manhattan were down as much as 11 percent from January of that year as fears of COVID-19 intensified, UrbanDigs said. But now, prices are more than they were in January 2020. Although housing inventory is still flush in Manhattan, it is about 22.5 percent lower than it was in the third quarter, and is about 6.9 percent higher than the 20-year quarterly average, Jonathan Miller, chief executive of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, told WSJ. “Inventory is not bloated like it was during the summer,” he said. “Inventory is getting leaner.”

A survey by Partnership for New York City of major employers indicated that 10 percent of Manhattan office employees had returned to their desks by early March. Respondents said they anticipated that 45 percent of workers would return to physical offices by September.

The global coronavirus pandemic has triggered a mass exodus from New York City as people sought more socially distanced locales. Lease signings plummeted 62 percent across every borough in May 2020, the lowest number since 2010.

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