Crazy for condos: Manhattan new-development contracts triple in 2021

Market more than recovered as deals blew past pre-Covid levels

The average Manhattan unit to go into contract was 1,746 square feet and asking $4.8 million (iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
The average Manhattan unit to go into contract was 1,746 square feet and asking $4.8 million (iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

Despite Manhattan’s uncertain pandemic recovery, the borough logged a banner year in new development contracts.

Some 1,732 newly-developed units went into contract in 2021, according to a new report from Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing. That’s a whopping 233 percent increase over last year, and 82 percent over 2019.

Signings slowed toward the end of the year, with 353 contracts in the fourth quarter. They peaked in the second quarter with 540.

Stephen Kliegerman, president of BHSDM, said 2021 “was more than a comeback year for Manhattan new development: Sales far exceeded even pre-pandemic numbers.

He expects the momentum to continue as Wall Street bonuses roll in and the wealthy continue to get wealthier during the pandemic.

Some neighborhoods have been hotspots for new development contracts: The number of contracts signed between West 14th and West 34th streets grew 650 percent between 2019 and 2021. On the Upper East Side, signings jumped 430 percent.

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“The dramatic increase in contract-signed activity between West 14th and West 34th streets is a result of new projects coming to market, such as The Maverick and Lantern House,” said Laura Tomana, vice president of research and market analytics at BHSDM.

Meanwhile, activity slowed on Billionaires’ Row, as luxury buyers opted for trophy properties from the Upper West Side to SoHo.

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The average Manhattan unit to go into contract was 1,746 square feet and asking $4.8 million. That’s a 16.5 percent increase in size and 45 percent increase in price from a year ago.

Toward the end of the year, a third of all signings broke the $5 million mark, while 27 percent fell below $2 million. But Manhattan was not the only borough with a busy market for pricey new condos, as Brooklyn also showed robust growth in the high end of the new development market.