Busiest December in years for Manhattan luxury property deals

“Clearance sale” yielded 18 contracts of $4 million or more last week alone

Time Warner Center and 154 East 63rd Street (Credit: StreetEasy, Wikipedia and iStock)
Time Warner Center and 154 East 63rd Street (Credit: StreetEasy, Wikipedia and iStock)

Don’t look now, but there’s a rally of sorts in New York’s luxury market — spurred by price chops, not bidding wars.

More than 60 contracts have been signed this month for Manhattan homes at prices of $4 million or higher, according to Olshan Realty. That makes this month the best December in three years — and there’s still one week to go.

Donna Olshan called the 18 signed contracts in her firm’s latest weekly market report a continuation of “the much-appreciated Santa Claus relief rally.”

It began Nov. 4 when Olshan recorded 20 signed contracts for the first time since July 1 — the date the state’s new mansion and transfer taxes took effect.

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Olshan attributed the surge in properties going into contract to sellers and sponsors lowering prices.

She said that properties that went into contract over the past seven weeks went for 12 percent less than the asking price, on average. The average discount for the year is 10 percent.

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Olshan added that these properties spent an average of 550 days on the market, more than 10 percent longer than the year’s average of 496 days.

“You can look at it as an end-of-the-year clearance sale,” she said.

The most valuable listing that went into contract last week was a massive 5,300-square-foot condo in the Time Warner Center. The sellers are cardiologist Dr. Joseph Levine and his wife Karen, according to property records.

The sprawling five-bedroom was created by combining two adjacent units in a renovation handled by acclaimed interior designer Juan Montoya. The unit was listed in August for $38.5 million by Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers of Sotheby’s International Realty. Monthly common charges and taxes are nearly $26,000.

The second priciest listing to go into contract last week was a 32-foot-wide Upper East Side townhouse at 154 East 63rd Street. (Yes, even wider than widely reported “behemoth” that was sold in October.)

The five-story home was first listed in May with an asking price of $21.8 million. It went into contract after the asking price was dropped to $18.95 million. Annual property taxes total more than $137,000. The Corcoran Group’s Robby Browne, Chris Kann and Jennifer Ireland Kubis had the listing. The seller in property records is a limited liability company based in Delaware.

Write to Erin Hudson at ekh@therealdeal.com