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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