Manhattan is cold, the suburbs and Brooklyn are hot: Here’s what the resi market looked like in July

Deals surged in Brooklyn, Long Island and Connecticut

New York’s real estate market is becoming two different stories: Manhattan, where deals are falling — and the suburbs, where demand is spiking. (iStock, Unsplash)
New York’s real estate market is becoming two different stories: Manhattan, where deals are falling — and the suburbs, where demand is spiking. (iStock, Unsplash)

In Manhattan, the drops were stunning.

July contracts for co-ops priced between $4 million and $5 million were down 94 percent from the same month last year. No contracts were signed for condos above $20 million. Across all price brackets, condo and co-op contracts were down 56 percent.

But in Brooklyn — where New Yorkers often migrate to in search of bigger homes and more open space — the numbers surged: 178 new condo contracts in July, up from 147 last year. Deals for single-family homes more than doubled.

The complete picture of July contracts — detailed in a Douglas Elliman report, which covers properties from under $500,000 to more than $20 million — shows that while the Manhattan market is struggling, buyers are flocking to areas with space, including Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut.

In other words, as offices and subways fade into memory, and the summer sun makes pandemic-era Manhattan even more stifling, for many buyers the suburbs have never looked better.

“Manhattan seems to be its own separate entity,” said Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller, who authored the report, “And I think that had a lot to do with the exodus back in March and April when about 40 percent of the residents of Manhattan moved out — and they haven’t come back yet.”

In Brooklyn, contract activity was particularly strong at lower price points. Contracts for condo units under $500,000 doubled in July from the previous year, while there were no condo deals signed in the borough for properties above $4 million.

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In Long Island, however, the biggest jump in activity was at the higher end: Contracts for single-family homes above $1 million more than doubled, from 39 last July to 98 this year. The number of condo deals above $1 million jumped 185 percent.

In the Hamptons, new deals were up 120 percent, with the highest jumps seen in deals priced between $1 million and $10 million. In Westchester, contracts were up 112 percent overall.

“The pricing is so much higher in the city that its equivalent tends to be the upper ends of the suburban market, and they seem to be benefiting,” Miller said.

The shift in demand has upended the pace of business for brokers in the city and suburbs alike. Manhattan brokers, idled when the state shut down in March, are now working with a limited pool of buyers as the effects of the pandemic meet the natural clearing of the summer vacation season. (Just three properties above $4 million went into contract last week.)

In the Hamptons, brokers have been working overtime — so much so that home options for wealthy buyers are thinning, according to brokers in the area.

“If you look at the absorption now, versus last year, we’re in a whole different ballpark,” Bespoke Real Estate co-owner and co-founder Cody Vichinsky told The Real Deal in April.

“We have a very saturated market, there’s not a lot of optionality — people are definitely fitting round pegs in square holes in the process.”

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at