2021 poised to be good year for townhouse sales

Demand grew for single-family homes through 2020

2020 was strong for townhouse sales in New York City. (Getty)
2020 was strong for townhouse sales in New York City. (Getty)

Last year may have been “garbage” for New York City’s residential market, but there was one bright spot: townhouses.

That’s according to the year-end townhouse report from Serhant, which tracked sales in 2020. It showed the median sale price rising to $3.6 million — up 16 percent from 2019.

The median price per square foot was also up, to $1,249. And total sales volume for the year was up 27 percent, hitting $875 million.

“The desire for townhomes decreased over the past 10 years as buyers’ preferences shifted toward new development condos,” Serhant’s Garrett Derderian said. “However, with people spending more time at their homes because of the coronavirus, the desire for townhomes surged as space became a top priority.”
Townhouse demand was stronger in some neighborhoods than others. According to Derderian, the submarkets of Downtown Manhattan (which includes pricey enclaves like the West Village, Chelsea and Tribeca) and Northwest Brooklyn (home to Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Cobble Hill and other neighborhoods) were the most popular, with buyers pushing prices up.

The median price for Downtown townhouses hit $10.75 million in the second half of the year, a 60 percent increase the previous quarter, when in-person showings were not permitted.

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Northwest Brooklyn had the most recorded sales, with 102. One of those, a $25.5 million townhouse in Brooklyn Heights, marked a new record for the borough and was one of several sales above $10 million in the neighborhood.

“There is simply not enough supply of townhomes” in the borough’s more desirable enclaves, Derderian said. “Especially in Northwest Brooklyn, the price points tend to be more appealing, which drove up demand.”

That tracks with the year-end report from Leslie J. Garfield, a brokerage specializing in townhouse sales. In Brooklyn, “pent-up demand paired with a renewed interest in more space, privacy, and outdoor space has pushed the market forward at a rapid pace,” the firm wrote.

Its year-end report, however, is slightly less rosy than Serhant’s; Leslie J. Garfield saw its townhouse sales decline by 45 percent in Manhattan and 13 percent in Brooklyn, and the average sale price for townhouses slid, too.

Still, the firm noted that an “uncharacteristically busy” December is a reason to be optimistic about 2021.

“There seems to be a new buyer pool for townhouses, made up of purchasers who have migrated from co-ops and condos to single-family townhouses or multi-family conversion opportunities,” the report said.