Manhattan luxury market wraps up best Christmas week ever

Buyers signed 42 contracts, the most since 2006

248 Central Park West (StreetEasy, iStock)
248 Central Park West (StreetEasy, iStock)

Tis the season for excess.

The Manhattan luxury market embodied that spirit last week, notching its best Christmas week of contract signings since Olshan Realty began tracking them in 2006.

Between Dec. 20 and Dec. 26, homebuyers signed 42 contracts for properties asking $4 million or more, smashing the previous Christmas-week record of 17 in 2016. Total sales volume for the week topped $360 million, outpacing another holiday record: Thanksgiving week’s $315 million in luxury contracts signed.

Typically, signings ebb from late December into the new year when luxury buyers typically are out of the city, the report’s author Donna Olshan said.

“But this year is like no other we’ve ever seen,” said Olshan. “So along with the rest of 2021, this week was a record by a long shot.”

With a week to go in 2021, some 1,897 contracts have been signed for luxury Manhattan homes, more than double the total of 2019.

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Olshan noted that 13 deals were for properties priced above $10 million, signaling strength in the trophy market, and the average apartment stretched nearly 3,000 square feet, a size that underscores the Covid-induced demand for more space.

“The rich get richer and they’re buying bigger,” Olshan said, noting the wealth that well-off New Yorkers have accumulated during the stock market’s record pandemic run.

Olshan doesn’t see the Omicron variant tamping down demand for luxury spaces.

“Luxury buyers are coming to the conclusion that no matter where you go, you’re not going to escape Covid, so you might as well decide to buy and live where you want to live,” she said.

Condos comprised the bulk of luxury sales last week; the majority of those contracts were for Downtown properties. The median asking price for the 42 homes was $6.4 million. The average drop in asking price was 3 percent, down from 4 percent the previous week.

The priciest listing to go into contract was a historic, six-story townhouse at 248 Central Park West asking $30 million. The home’s previous owners, Matthew and Janet Geller, had sunk $10 million into a gut renovation of the 19th century property, adding a 60-foot lap pool, theater and penthouse apartment that brought the home’s footprint to over 9,000 square feet. But after the revamp, the Gellers in 2019 only got $16 million for the home, which sold at 44 percent below asking — a sign of the then-sluggish luxury market.

The second-highest price was $28 million for a duplex at pre-war-inspired 515 Park Avenue, a Lenox Hill building two blocks from Central Park. The four-bedroom condo spans 4,916 square feet and features a library, a living room with a gas fireplace, and a floating metal-and-glass staircase that leads to the upstairs bedrooms. The unit also includes two guest apartments on the third floor and a studio.