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Yes, Co-ops and Condos Are Still Selling

New York City

Virtual home tours, virtual closings, co-op and condo sales, coronavirus.

Instagram home tours, deep discounts and "satisfaction guarantees" are keys to apartment sales.

May 8, 2020

There was an uptick in new listings of apartments for sale in Manhattan during the last week of April and first week of May, sending a ray of sunshine into a market that was soft before the pandemic and now looks downright gloomy. The New York Times reports that from March 22, when the stay-at-home order took effect, to April 29, there were 643 contracts signed in Manhattan, fewer than half signed during the same period last year, according to GS Data Services, a real estate data firm. The median sale price of $1.025 million marked a 6 percent drop from the same time last spring. In Brooklyn, where the median sale price was $900,000 from March 22 to April 29, signings were down 65 percent from the same period last year.

Still, as frantic sellers hunt for buyers, deals are happening – from first-timers hoping to take advantage of near record-low mortgage rates and soft prices, to all-cash investors buying units in bulk. To lure skittish buyers, agents and developers are trying everything from millennial-friendly Instagram tours to deeper discounts to “satisfaction guarantees.” Virtual closings, known as escrow closings, have finalized most such deals.

At Manhattan House, the well-regarded midcentury condo on the Upper East Side, Shelly Bleier, an agent with Douglas Elliman, sold a one-bedroom apartment, sight unseen, to another resident of the building in an off-market deal. It is in contract for $70,000 more than the $2.01 million the seller paid for it in 2016, at the peak of the market. Bleier says she would have listed the unit for about $1.65 million, based on recent comparable sales. She adds: “I think it’s the pandemic deal of the century.”

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