Home contracts surge in Manhattan, Brooklyn

Lower mortgage rates could spur listings and demand

Home Contracts Surge in Manhattan, Brooklyn

This just in: Homebuyers finally outnumber Eurasian eagle owls in the city.

While Central Park Zoo escapee Flaco remained the only member of his species in the five boroughs, contract signings last month for Manhattan and Brooklyn condos and co-ops increased year-over-year. It could become a welcome pattern for the beleaguered residential market if mortgage rates behave.

In Manhattan, newly signed contracts rose annually as a result of a listings expansion in previous months, according to a report by appraiser Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman. Co-op contract signings shot up 13 percent, while condo contracts in the borough were 9 percent higher than they were a year ago.

Manhattan is almost entirely an apartment hunter’s market. A mere seven contracts were signed for one- to three-family buildings, a decrease from 11 a year earlier. Listings were flat.

Signed contracts don’t always lead to closed sales, but are an early indication of where sales are headed.

Miller Samuel’s monthly report found newly signed contracts for condo units priced above $1 million expanded for the second time in the past year, while co-op signings above that threshold rose for the fifth time year-over-year.

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In Brooklyn, meanwhile, newly signed contracts rose annually across all three housing types.

Signed co-op contracts in the borough rose 59 percent, signed condo contracts rose 26 percent and signed contracts for one- to three-family buildings increased 19 percent. Every one- to three-family that went into contract was asking at least $500,000, and most were listed for at least $2 million.

The past year has been plagued by a lack of for-sale inventory and rising mortgage rates. The news is still mixed on that front.

New condo and co-op listings in Manhattan fell by more than 50 year-over-year. New listings in Brooklyn were down from the previous year for co-ops, but increased for both condos and one- to three-family buildings.

As the Federal Reserve pivots away from interest rate hikes — and eyes a few rate cuts this year and next — mortgage rates may continue to come down from their fall peak, bringing more listings and more demand, according to the report, as sellers brave putting their homes on the market and buyers don’t worry as much about being saddled with paying 6 percent interest.

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