Manhattan luxury contract signings fall to lowest level since 2009

Depleted figures underscore difficulty cutting deals in the middle of a pandemic

146 West 57th Street (Credit: Google Maps)
146 West 57th Street (Credit: Google Maps)

Only one luxury property went into contract in Manhattan last week, a stunning nosedive not seen since the last financial crisis.

The single transaction, documented in Olshan Realty’s weekly luxury report, further underscores how difficult it has become to cut deals in the middle of a pandemic, as brokers navigate virtual showings, leery buyers and an economy in freefall.

In the six weeks since New York’s stay-home order came into effect, there have been just 14 luxury contracts signed in Manhattan for a total value of $111 million. That’s compared with 135 contracts signed in the same time period last year, for a total value of more than $1 billion.

“It doesn’t look like I’m reporting on a market, or even a series of one-offs” said Donna Olshan, head of Olshan Realty and author of the report. “It looks more like a lottery winner.”

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Last week’s sole deal was for a 61st-floor unit at the Metropolitan Tower on West 57th Street. The five-bedroom, 3,632-square-foot unit went into contract asking $9.25 million — down from $10.25 million when it was listed in October.

As with most contracts signed in the pandemic, discussions about a sale started months ago, before the pandemic hit. The buyer submitted an offer in January, but by the time the contract was firmed up, in March, coronavirus had transformed the market and the parties started a second round of negotiations.

Daniel Chun of Compass, who represented the buyer, told Olshan that they hung on, despite the unpredictable market, because their “need didn’t change.”

“Fortunately, both parties were able to adjust and move the deal forward,” he said.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at so@therealdeal.com