Manhattan resi market has busiest quarter in 3 decades

Borough’s 4,500-plus deals were most since record-keeping began in 1989

(Unsplash / Paulo Silva)
(Unsplash / Paulo Silva)

Home sales surged in Manhattan last quarter with more than 4,500 residences changing hands as listings dwindled and prices held steady.

The 4,523 deals were easily the most in three decades, according to Douglas Elliman’s quarterly report by Miller Samuel. This quarter surpassed by 15 percent the prior record of 3,939 in the second quarter of 2007, at the end of the housing bubble.

“This is the first time cracking the 4,000 threshold,” said Jonathan Miller, the report’s author, who began tracking the market in 1989.

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The strong demand from buyers pushed inventory down to 7,694 active listings, 17 percent below from the level a year ago. At that pace, all available homes would be sold in just 5.1 months, down from 20.3 months last year — although that number was inflated because Manhattan listings flooded the market after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

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Miller said the average supply over the past decade was 7.2 months, so homes are moving “significantly faster than the long-term norm.” But he maintains that the number of listings is much higher than the 10-year, third-quarter average of 6,556.

Because of the adequate supply, prices haven’t risen much. The median sale price in the borough was $1.1 million, up 1.4 percent from a year ago. But it was 8.8 percent higher than in the third quarter of 2019.

“Two years ago the high-end market was a lot weaker than it is now,” Miller explained.

Miller also noted that Manhattan’s cash buyers are back. Some 48.6 percent paid without a mortgage, compared to 39.3 percent at the start of 2021. The 10-year average is 48.4 percent.

“One of the reasons we saw all cash buyers evaporate [early this year] was record-low mortgage rates and a flood of inventory. Cash became a less important bargaining chip,” said Miller. That metric rebounding to its typical level “is an indicator the market has changed.”