Here’s where Covid hit Manhattan condo market hardest

Analysis of second-quarter sales reveals neighborhoods with the biggest price drops and gains

TRD New York /
Jul.July 31, 2020 07:00 AM
Central Park South saw its median sales price for condos nosedive to $1.5 million (iStock, photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Central Park South saw its median sales price for condos nosedive to $1.5 million (iStock, photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

At first glance, Manhattan’s condo market seems to have emerged unscathed from the pandemic.

The borough’s median condo sales price in April, May and June actually increased by 3.4 percent to $1.6 million from the first quarter of the year, according to an analysis by The Real Deal of sales data from listings platform Online Residential. Though that’s down 18 percent from the same quarter a year ago, it’s not as steep a drop as some expected.

But if pricing held on, activity suffered a stark decline.

Only 618 condos were sold in Manhattan last quarter, a 43 percent drop from 1,080 in the first quarter and 67 percent below the year-ago total. As the pandemic shut down city life and Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned in-person property showings, sales that closed tended to be to buyers who had visited the home pre-Covid.

For sales that did happen last quarter, a further breakdown suggests that Covid also had a profound effect on pricing in parts of Manhattan.

Central Park South saw its median sales price for condos nosedive to $1.5 million, a stunning 88 percent drop from the first quarter’s median price of $12.6 million. An outlier was Vornado Realty Trust’s sale of three units at more than $50 million each, but those closings stemmed from contracts signed years ago for unbuilt apartments.

Midtown West saw its median price take a similar dive, falling 70 percent to $960,000 from $3.2 million.

Yet in a few neighborhoods, prices rose — in some cases as dramatically as they fell elsewhere.

Hudson Yards saw its median price shoot up 53 percent to $7 million from $4.6 million a quarter earlier. The rise came in tandem with plummeting sales volume.

Lincoln Square saw its median price rise to $3.1 million from $2.3 million, a 38 percent increase. The gain appears to have been driven by a spate of new development closings at 30 Riverside Blvd.

Chelsea’s median price jumped by a third, to $2 million.

But those numbers can fluctuate wildly if different sizes of apartments sold in one quarter versus another. They do not necessarily reflect valuation changes in a neighborhood.

When ranking sales by average price per square foot, different neighborhoods come out on the bottom and top in terms of quarter-over-quarter change.

Midtown East saw that figure fall 40 percent, the largest decline in the borough. Central Park West posted the second largest drop, 27.5 percent. Central Park South only saw a 2 percent decline.

The Seaport and Financial District logged 33 percent and 31 percent price increases per foot, respectively. NoMad saw a 25 percent gain, Tribeca 17 percent and Midtown West 8 percent.

In year-over-year comparisons, as in the quarterly ones, Central Park South condos also suffered the borough’s biggest drop in median sale price — 67 percent, to $1.6 million from $4.75 million. Hudson Yards had the largest price growth, up 80 percent to $7 million from $3.9 million last year.

Price per square foot dropped by 57 percent in Central Park West to $1,203 from $2,779 a year earlier, the largest drop in the borough.

The biggest annual gains were in Midtown West, where prices surged 51 percent to $2,638 per square foot from $1,751, and in Central Park South and Lincoln Square, where prices in both grew by 24 percent.

With sales volume down across the borough, buyers who closed on homes in Manhattan last quarter hardly made a dent in the flood of inventory that’s been accumulating in the borough for years. Manhattan’s luxury condo market was struggling long before the outbreak of Covid-19.

At the current pace of sales in 40 neighborhoods, the average time it would take to sell all the listed condos in an area is 9 months, if no new listings were added. That doesn’t count the estimated $33 billion worth of unsold units that are not yet listed.

Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]


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