Manhattan luxury market records strong week of contracts despite coronavirus concerns

Low interest rates, discounts on luxury units may have spurred signings, offsetting mounting disruptions

Woolworth Tower Residences, unit 31A (Credit: courtesy of Alchemy Properties)
Woolworth Tower Residences, unit 31A (Credit: courtesy of Alchemy Properties)

Open-house attendance is down, real estate events are being canceled or postponed and the stock market is tumbling.

Amid the deepening concerns over the coronavirus, Manhattan home sale deals march on.

There were 27 contracts signed last week for properties above $4 million, according to the latest luxury report from Olshan Realty. Combined, the 54 total contracts signed in the past two weeks represent the strongest two-week period since June 2019.

The report’s author, Donna Olshan, said it was hard to know what spurred the signings but she believes it may come down to a combination of low interest rates and price cuts on individual units.

“The people who buy in this period of time are probably going to do very well,” she said. “The flipside is, I believe some sellers will withdraw their houses from the market because they won’t feel confident having strangers coming into the house, and they also won’t want to sell in a volatile market.”

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The average number of days on was 550 for the 27 under contract last week.

The priciest signing last week was a triplex condo at Shibumi Development’s 601 Washington Street, asking about $19.9 million. The 7,977 square-foot property has four bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms and a private elevator.

The second priciest singing was a 5,991 square-foot unit at The Woolworth Tower Residences. The $19.45 million asking price on Woolworth unit 31A was down from $26.4 million when it was first listed off floorplans in 2015, pointing to a larger trend evident in the report: discounts.

The tower has had a good run lately: It recorded four contract signings in the past three weeks, with a total asking value of $41 million.

The average discount across all the units was 16 percent between original and final asking prices, underlining again the drops developers are making to move inventory.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at