I-sales dollar volume plummets more than 50% year-over-year

Values in Q1 2017 were up 6% citywide, suggesting disconnect between buyers and sellers

(Credit: Cushman & Wakefield, Click to enlarge)
(Credit: Cushman & Wakefield, Click to enlarge)

The city’s investment-sales market limped through a listless start to 2017, with dollar volume falling by more than 50 percent from the same time last year. And even pockets of the five boroughs that showed signs of resiliency three months ago crashed back down to earth.

“Dollar volumes were abysmal,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Bob Knakal [TRDataCustom], who added that the first quarter “puts us on pace to be down 51 percent from last year and down 63 percent from 2015.”

The first quarter of 2017 saw 846 properties trade hands for a total dollar volume of $7.06 billion, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield. That was a drop of 33 percent from the 1,258 properties sold the same time a year ago, and a 55 percent decline from the $15.52 billion worth of deals inked in the first quarter of 2016.

New York City Investment Sales Q1 2017
MarketProperties Traded Q1 2016Properties Traded Q1 2017Change in Properties TradedDollar Volume Q1 2016Dollar Volume Q1 2017Change in Dollar Volume
Bronx206121-41%$701 million$411 million-41%
Brooklyn489332-32%$2.6 billion$1.3 billion-50%
Manhattan185149-19%$10.3 billion$4.3 billion-58%
Northern Manhattan74751%$650 million$527 million-19%
Queens304169-44%$1.3 billion$544 million-58%
Source: Cushman & Wakefield

If the first quarter’s figures were annualized, 2017 will end with a sales total of $28.3 billion, less than half of 2016’s $57.8 billion in sales. One bright spot, Knakal noted, is that values were up 6 percent across the city.

When transaction volume drops and pricing rises, it’s a sign that there’s still a disconnect between sellers and buyers when it comes to what they think they think the fair-market price is for the city’s real estate.

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The lethargic first three months comes as no surprise to industry observers who watched as deals came fewer and farther between last year. Buyers tightened their purse strings amid a wide range of concerns including oversupply in various sectors of the residential market, out-of-control pricing, the presidential election and climbing interest rates.

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There are some big deals in the pipeline that could give a jolt to the market later in the year, such as Chinese conglomerate HNA Group’s $2.21 billion acquisition of 245 Park Avenue, which is expected to close in the coming months.

But even submarkets that outperformed their neighbors amid last year’s slowdown fell in line with the rest of the market. At the end of 2016, dollar volumes were down in Manhattan south of 96th Street, Brooklyn and the Bronx. But in Northern Manhattan and Queens, sales totals were up 15 percent and 26 percent on the year, respectively.

In the first quarter of 2017, though, dollar volumes above 96th Street fell 19 percent to $527,000 and in Queens by 58 percent to $544,000.

Northern Manhattan was the only submarket that saw an increase in the number of properties sold. There were 75 deals in the first quarter, compared to 74 the same time a year ago.