Slowing sales and tumbling prices: A decade in Manhattan townhouse sales

Ten-year review shows sales reached lowest point in a decade in 2019

Jan.January 30, 2020 05:30 PM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

Sales of townhouses in Manhattan hit the lowest point in a decade last year.

Year-over-year prices also took a tumble, according to Douglas Elliman’s 10-year report, which was authored by appraiser Jonthan Miller. The median townhouse price fell 7.8 percent in 2019 to $4.8 million.

However, that figure was up on 2010 by 24.7 percent, showing that prices have increased while sales have largely stayed flat or declined.

“Townhouses, in general, no matter whether the market is fast or slow, move as much as three times slower than the apartment market,” said Miller, who noted that was in part because the townhouse market is a luxury subset of the residential housing market overall.

Luxury townhouses have faced similar challenges to other high-end properties in recent years, as brokers contend with a decline in foreign buyers and a string of legislative changes including increased mansion and transfer taxes. Many sellers have been forced to drop prices after long stretches on the market.

In November, a Georgian-style townhouse at 15 East 90th Street went into contract asking $16.5 million, down from an original asking price of $35 million, after 1,651 days on the market.

The following month, an off-market listing for a sprawling townhouse owned by antiques dealer Carlton Hobbs was abruptly pulled after the Wall Street Journal reported that it was for sale. A woman at the property later denied the listing was real, an account disputed by Brown Harris Stevens.

Meanwhile, more than five months after Jeffrey Epstein’s death inside a Manhattan jail cell, mystery lingers over the fate of his opulent Upper East Side mansion on East 71st Street.

The 21,000 square-foot property, where Epstein allegedly abused underage girls, has five bathrooms, several bedrooms and a heated sidewalk out front. Its value has been estimated at between $56 and $77 million.

Brokers across the city have expressed interest in marketing the property, however it will likely be tangled in legal issues for years to come. So far, the US Attorney’s Office has declined to comment on the legal status of the manse.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]

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