In the before times, New York’s residential sales market functioned on a natural rhythm of seasonality. Spring was good; fall was less good; and winter was the worst.
But the pandemic has changed things. Take Brooklyn: Between 2003 and 2019, the number of sales in the fourth quarter traditionally fell by an average of 13 percent from the previous quarter.
In 2020, however, fourth-quarter sales shot up 82 percent from the third quarter to a total of 2,695. The number was also nearly 6 percent higher than the same period last year.
“The fourth quarter tends to have the lowest sales total of any quarter of the year and this year it has the highest,” said Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, author of the latest Douglas Elliman market report for Brooklyn and Queens home sales. “This is the clawback; this is the recovery and activity from the lockdown.”
Miller said he had seen the spike coming by looking at Brooklyn contract numbers, which had steadily ticked up last year as buyers left Manhattan in search of more spacious homes. (Sales reports do not take into consideration when contracts were signed, meaning there is a lag in the data.)
“The last two months, new signed contracts for Brooklyn were the most signed contracts for their respective months since the financial crisis,” Miller said.
According to his market report, the average sales price in Brooklyn in the fourth quarter was just over $1 million, up from $972,873 in the same period last year.
Condos in new developments did particularly well, accounting for 300 deals last quarter — a huge jump from the 56 new development deals done in the same period last year.
In Queens, meanwhile, fourth-quarter sales shot up 56 percent from the previous quarter, although they were down 8.3 percent from the same period last year.
The median sales price in that borough, $668,000, and the average sales price, $705,636, both rose year-over-year to reach new records.
Miller said Queens has been setting price records since 2015.
“A lot of the growth in Queens has been attributed to what I have been calling for years the ‘Brooklyn spillover,’” he said. “Brooklyn was the machine that was attracting a lot of demand and people that were priced out looked at Queens as a more affordable alternative — and that’s continuing.”