The coronavirus caused Manhattan apartment sales in the second quarter to take their biggest plunge in 30 years, the New York Times reports. The number of closed sales from April through June – when COVID-19 peaked in New York City – were down 54 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from the brokerage Douglas Elliman. Meanwhile, the median sales price fell 17.7%, compared to the same time last year, to $1 million, the biggest drop in a decade.
“This is what you get when the market is not able to function,” says Jonathan Miller, an appraiser and the author of the report, noting that in-person apartment showings in New York City were banned for nearly the entire quarter. In-person showings were allowed to resume in June – but on an appointment-only basis, without traditional open houses. “It’s an extreme moment,” Miller adds, “to put it lightly.”
More than 90 percent of the sales recorded in the second quarter were actually signed before the virus gripped New York in March, says Bess Freedman, the chief executive of the brokerage Brown Harris Stevens. “A lot will ride on what happens with schools at the end of the summer,” she adds, predicting that few potential buyers with children who have left the city to escape the pandemic will choose to return if virtual classrooms continue.
Pent-up demand, from buyers who were unable to view apartments before the city started to reopen, is likely to fuel sales in the next quarter, and home sellers seem to agree. Last week, 550 new listings hit the market, nearly twice as many as in the same week last year, according to UrbanDigs, a real estate data firm. But overall, listings in Manhattan are still down 26 percent compared to last year, the first year-over-year drop in inventory in five years, according to the Corcoran Group.
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