February home contract signings give NYC buyers hope

Number of deals fall, inventory increases

(iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
(iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

After pandemic buyers and stingy sellers set the housing market ablaze in New York City, the pace of contract signings has begun to slow.

The change, while not dramatic, offers a glimmer of hope to buyers who have been whipsawed by bidding wars for more than a year.

In Manhattan, agreements last month to buy condos dropped 11 percent from 498 a year ago to 445, according to a report by Douglas Elliman compiled by Miller Samuel. Only 11 one- to three-family homes went into contract, down from 21 a year ago.

“The market is showing stability, versus rapid growth and activity,” said Jonathan Miller, the author of the report.

Co-ops, on the other hand, saw a 6 percent increase in signed contracts, from 601 in February 2021 to 639 last month. Miller does not see the increase as indicative of a trend.

“Co-ops and condos have been bouncing back and forth,” he said.

Overall, the numbers show the strength of last year’s record-breaking market remains. Contract signings for co-ops and one- to three-family homes are roughly double where they were pre-pandemic. Condo deals are also sharply up over that period.

Not all contracts lead to sales, but signings reflect where sales numbers will be in the coming months.

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New listings for apartments increased from a year ago, adding much-needed inventory. New listings for co-ops were up 15 percent, and 31 percent for condos.

In Brooklyn, pandemic demand for homes peaked earlier than in Manhattan, so the year-over-year comparisons show a drop.

Signed contracts for co-ops were down 31 percent to 117. For one- to three-family homes, deals fell 23 percent to 128. But the 315 contract signings for condos represented a 20 percent increase from last February’s 263.

For all three home types combined, the year-over-year decrease was 6.5 percent.

“Brooklyn was booming much earlier,” Miller said. “And so it’s already been a substantial period of time where Brooklyn has seen significant price growth.”

The pace of contract signings in Brooklyn for all three home types last month was nearly triple what it was pre-pandemic.

New listings are also up in the borough annually for the first time since October. New listings for co-ops gained 21 percent, condos 25 percent, and one- to three-family homes 31 percent.

“Once you start seeing price growth, you can see, at least initially, more inventory come on, because sellers are attracted to the higher prices,” Miller said. “And I think that’s what Brooklyn is experiencing.”