“We are recovering”: Manhattan home sales finally increase

First quarter sees first year-over-year gain since pandemic hit

It’s the first time in the past four quarters that sales have exceeded year levels.
It’s the first time in the past four quarters that sales have exceeded year levels.

Manhattan’s residential market appears to be on the rebound.

The borough saw 2,457 home sales close in the first quarter, a 2.1 percent increase from the same period a year ago and a 28.7 percent jump from the previous quarter, according to a Douglas Elliman report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

The small year-over-year increase isn’t one to glance over: It’s the first in the past four quarters, noted Jonathan Miller, the report’s author.

The other boroughs have boomed since the summer, but Manhattanites’ wealth and mobility made the island a “laggard,” Miller said. This quarter’s report shows that sales in the borough are now moving — or moved, at least — in the right direction.

The median sale price was $1,075,000, up by 2.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2020 and by 1.4 percent from a year earlier. But condos and co-ops lagged the broader market as their median sale price decreased by 4.7 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.

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Listing inventory is up 18.2 percent year-over-year. “That’s important,” Miller said, “because inventory was the third-highest in history last summer, but because of the gradual increase in sales and reduction of inventory from panic sellers who pulled their listings from the market, inventory is now relatively consistent with history norms.”

The spike last summer was attributable in part to pent-up demand following the spring lockdowns and ban on home showings.

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Co-ops and condominiums that sold from January through March spent an average of 138 days on the market, up by 13.1 percent from the previous quarter and by 20 percent from a year ago.

New-development units that sold spent an average of 261 days on the market and traded an average discount of 8.6 percent from the final asking price. The number of closed sales fell by 2.1 percent from the previous quarter, but rose by 9.2 percent from the first quarter of 2020.

“We haven’t recovered, but we are recovering,” Miller said. As sales rise and inventory falls, the quarter’s results are a big step in that direction and better than expected at this point in the post-Covid rebound, he said.