Early September usually ushers in the demand doldrums for Manhattan home sales.
Families that spent the summer house-hunting have either closed by Labor Day or shelved their search for the school year. With fewer buyers looking and signing, listings dip, too.
But not this year.
New listings for Manhattan homes hit 723 last week, 30 percent above the period’s five-year average, according to a report released by the real estate analytics site UrbanDigs.
The surge is an extension of August’s steamy sales market, which brokers say could continue into the fall as employers that had pushed return-to-work dates finally pull the trigger.
New listings are a good metric for the number of contracts that ultimately get signed, said UrbanDigs report author John Walkup.
UrbanDigs found homebuyers signed 1,187 contracts in August — 40 percent above the pre-pandemic ten-year average. On the ground, 72 percent of 12,000 real estate agents surveyed said August 2021 was busier than normal if not the busiest August they had ever experienced.
Brokers say the phasing out of remote work could continue that momentum.
September was initially slotted as the unofficial return date for office workers. As Covid cases crept up through the summer, that deadline has been pushed. The stretched timeline could see employees returning to the office and the city’s housing market through the end of 2021.
As of Aug. 25, just 23 percent of Manhattan office workers were back in cubicles, with 40 percent expected to return by Sept. 30, according to data collected by Partnership for New York City. That’s down from the 60 percent projected at the beginning of summer. However, by the new year, employers expect 76 percent of employees will have returned.
Others see reduced competition buoying sales activity to come.
Brown Harris Stevens broker Emma Kerins saw buyers empty out of the sales market in August, and folks who had been waiting on the sidelines jump in.
“Since there was significantly less competition than in the previous few months, which were nuts,” Kerins said buyers who had seen houses flip frantically jumped on the lull to make an offer.
The fall, famously a buyer’s market, could pull more home-hunters off the bench and into open houses.