Luxury home contracts reach highest levels since shutdown

Six Manhattan deals were signed after just one the previous week

326 West 87th Street and 30 Park Place (Credit: Google Maps)
326 West 87th Street and 30 Park Place (Credit: Google Maps)

After a dismal six weeks, Manhattan’s luxury market is showing signs of movement.

Six homes priced above $4 million went into contract in the borough last week, according to the latest market report from Olshan Realty. That was up from just one the week before.

While the bump is likely to offer some comfort to brokers and developers, it’s too early to say whether a shift is afoot.

“We need many more weeks of clarity to call any of this a trend,” said Donna Olshan, head of Olshan Realty and author of the report. “The virus controls the market. Until there’s a medical solution, that is the state we’re in.”

The luxury market has been volatile for a long time, even before the pandemic, but the state’s shutdown on March 22 slowed contract signings to a trickle. Things got so dire that the last week of April saw the fewest since the Great Recession.

For context, 20 luxury contracts were signed in the past seven weeks, down from 158 during the same time period last year. The average discount in the past seven weeks from original to final asking price was 14 percent. In the same period last year, it was 10 percent.

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The priciest contract from last week’s total was a brownstone at 326 West 87th Street, which the seller sold without a broker.

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According to the report, the property went into contract asking $7.9 million, down from $9.9 million when it was first listed two years ago. Spanning 6,577 square feet, the 20-foot-wide house has four stories, six bedrooms and a basketball court. Several episodes of the TV drama “Law and Order” were filmed there, the report said.

While the pandemic has created challenges for sellers, the owner of the brownstone, Jess Mogul, told Olshan that it had made him reconsider selling because he thought his home might now be worth more than he was asking.

“I thought of pulling it off the market because I believed that a single-family house will be at a premium during this time,” he said. “People are freaked out about living in a high-rise with elevators and common areas. You can’t find a better situation than this townhouse.”

The second priciest contract was a 2,811 square-foot, 56th-floor unit at 30 Park Place. The property went into contract asking $7.95 million, which was down from $9.3 million when sales launched in 2014.

The buyer had seen another unit in the building several times, but backed off when the pandemic hit.

According to Olshan’s report, developer Larry Silverstein became more flexible on pricing when the economy went south, leading the brokers to nudge the buyer toward a bigger unit on a higher floor, which they showed using a virtual tour.

“They were very happy with the deal and so was Silverstein,” said Angeli Dahiya of Corcoran Sunshine, who represented the developer. “They got a great deal, better than any other in the line, and we were really glad that we got to reel them back in. Silverstein just wanted to wrap it up.”

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at