Key Highlights

  • Urban exodus now reversing itself thanks in part to COVID vaccine
  • Big city condo sales jumped +690% in March 2021 compared to March 2020

One Year After Collapse, Manhattan’s First Quarter Sales Coming Back

At the onset of the COVID pandemic in early March last year, long-standing urbanites couldn’t get of big cities fast enough.  The wealthiest and most mobile were the first to go.  And go they did to the Hamptons, Aspen, Lake Tahoe and other favorite destination spots.  Now, some are returning.

In Manhattan, Q4 2020 sales were down nearly -21%.  In Q1 2021, closed sales exceeded those in Q1 2020 by +2.1%, according to the Douglas Ellimanreport.  A different report by the brokerage from Brown Harris Stevensindicated sales rose +6%.

Price Resets

Downward median sale prices became the “new normal” of pricing in every category during Q1 2021.  Take a look:

  • Large apartments (4 or more bedrooms) down nearly -19%
  • Studios down -7.4%
  • On bedrooms – down -4,4%
  • Co-ops down -3.8%
  • Condos down -4.7%

Price Resets Attracting Wider Spectrum of Buyers

According to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Appraiserand author of the Douglas Elliman Report,said, “It would be reasonable to describe this as a youth renaissance.”

First-time buyers, average age of 37, the highest share of buyers in seven years, made up 41.9% of sales.  All-cash buyers dropped -29.3%, a seven year low, as these first-timers took advantage of low interest rates.

Out-of-state buyers, particularly from California, came pouring in.

Cautionary Optimism Among Professionals

According to the brokerage Corcoran, sales data point to the highest number of signed contracts since 2007 during Q1 2021.  Pamela Liebman, Corcoran’s president said, “It’s the strongest start to the year in a long time.”  Liebman credits price resets and growing confidence in the COVID vaccine rollout.

Miller acknowledged that inventory is slowly decreasing.  At the current rate of sales, there is 8.8 month’s of inventory, just higher than the 20-year average of 8.7 months.

Tyler Whitman with Triplemint said, “I don’t even think the floodgates have opened yet.  I think we’re just getting started.”


Thanks to The New York Times.

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