July may have been the hottest month in the long history of planet Earth, but June was the hottest month in the history of luxury residential real estate in New York City, as looming July 1 tax increases sent buyers scrambling to close deals, the Wall Street Journal reports. More than $4.8 billion in property changed hands in June, the highest monthly total since the city began tracking sales online in 2003. Beginning July 1, all sales above $1 million were hit with a “mansion tax,” and the transfer tax rate also rose.
According to the newspaper’s analysis of property records, the month set records for sales above $2 million, sales above $10 million, and even sales above $25 million. The splashiest of the latter was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s purchase of three apartments, including a penthouse, at 212 Fifth Avenue near Madison Square Park for $80 million.
But StreetEasy was quick to throw cold water on the sizzling sales, pointing out that they made a relatively small dent in the large number of high-priced homes lingering on the market. As of the end of July, some 4,200 homes were listed for sale at more than $2 million on StreetEasy, roughly the same number that were sold above $2 million citywide from June 2018 through May 2019.
Of these 4,200 homes, nearly three quarters were listed before the start of June. If sales data from the spring of 2018 is any indicator, it’s likely that even more homes are quietly sitting off-market, with their owners hoping dynamics will turn in their favor.
Unfortunately for the sellers of these homes, overall sales trends are still pointed downward. Though the mansion tax incentive bumped June’s high-end sales up 92 percent from the prior year, overall sales in the city were still down 11 percent from the previous year as of the end of July.
Even sellers of high-end units who did find buyers in June did so by cutting prices. Of the hundreds of sales for which StreetEasy was able to identify corresponding listing data, four out of every five homes that sold for above $2 million went for less than their final asking price on StreetEasy.
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