As anticipated, new listings surged in July with pent-up supply intended for Spring finally coming on the market once NYC entered Phase 2. Buyer activity has resumed and has varied dramatically depending on location and price point, with Brooklyn outperforming Manhattan across all price points. Listing prices continue to largely hold at pre-COVID levels in both boroughs, although we are starting to see some price reductions now, and we expect adjustments after Labor Day for listings that have not entered contract by the end of August.
In Manhattan, new listings were up 72% in July compared to last year; however, year-to-date new listings are still lower than historic levels. While supply is down, demand has lagged further with the number of contracts signed this July 40% lower than last year. Even contract activity for homes priced below $1M, almost half of all contracts signed in Manhattan last month, was 37% lower this year than last. July contract activity in the $1-2M market lagged further, with 45% fewer contracts signed compared to 2019, even though there were 87% more homes in this price category listed this July versus last. On the higher-end ($2M+), signed contracts were down 40% this July compared to last, but inventory in this market was dramatically lower this year. One reason for this might be that sellers are holding back on listing new properties over the Summer on the belief that luxury buyers are firmly ensconced outside the city at this time.
There is no clear data on where contracts are currently being signed relative to asking price, but this information should begin trickling in via closings taking place over the next few months. What we have seen so far suggests that accepted offers in Manhattan are generally within 10% of asking price, but there are outliers especially in the higher-end of the market where negotiability has been much greater. A Compass survey of median negotiability (the negotiated price compared to asking price) for the first half of July suggests that negotiated prices were within 7% of asking on average, while rejected/unsuccessful offers were more than 10% below asking. A more recent Compass survey of contracts signed between June 22 – August 3 also indicates that an overwhelming majority of contract activity (84% of contract signed) were for homes priced below $2M which entered contract within 3.8% of the last asking price. There is very little data for homes over $2M, and these data points range from at-ask to 16% below.
As for closings, unsurprisingly, there were half as many closings this July in Manhattan compared to last. Closed sale prices reported thus far are essentially unchanged from last year, and in both years, sale prices were on average 11% below asking, suggesting that buyers expecting negotiability in Manhattan is nothing new. Accurate and competitive pricing remains key as supply is expected to continue to outpace demand, especially considering the higher-priced properties that are poised to enter the market in the Fall. While listing prices have held at pre-COVID levels thus far, there may be an adjustment in the Fall when new listings come on and closing data becomes available.
By contrast, Brooklyn’s market has seen a more robust rebound. New listings last month were up 43% versus July 2019, with listing prices virtually unchanged from pre-COVID levels. The most recent Compass negotiability survey reports almost two times as many offers made in Brooklyn than in Manhattan during the first half of July, with bidding wars reported on well-positioned properties. From a survey of offers that were successfully negotiated or accepted July 1-15, negotiated offers were largely within 1-3.9% of asking prices; on a more recent Compass survey of contracts signed between June 22 - August 3, negotiability was virtually nonexistent with Brooklyn homes entering contract on average at less than 1% below asking with more than 60% of contracts reported to be at or above asking. There were less than half the number of closings in Brooklyn this July versus last, and the median sale price was down 4%. As closings are a lagging indicator, the latest closed sale figures are starting to reflect contract activity (or re-negotiations) that took place during the shutdown, at the peak of the pandemic.
While there has been much talk of an exodus out of NYC for (literally) greener pastures, it is not the case, in my opinion, that COVID is driving New Yorkers out in droves. Anecdotally, all of my pre-COVID buyers are either actively looking in NYC again or they plan to resume their searches in the Fall. That said, surrounding markets have been booming, but much of that demand can be attributed to second-home buyers and folks who simply accelerated their longer-term plans to move out of the city. For some, COVID has made “just a plane flight away” from their families seem too far and it has pushed those to relocate which may bring many New Yorkers back to the city.
There are many factors at play in what is going on in the market now and it will continue to be unpredictable for the near future, but I hope this report provides some assurance that despite everything, the market continues to be resilient.
See below for Compass listings that have come on the market since Phase 2 and already are in contract. Properties that offer something of value or a unique look that are priced right still go fast in this market.
Overall Market Activity Since Phase 2
Since NYC entered Phase 2 of the NYS reopening plan on June 22, the market has returned with a tidal wave of new listings – 1,820 in Manhattan and 1,553 in Brooklyn – more than double the number of listings that entered the market across both boroughs during the same period last year. Despite many doom and gloom predictions, buyer activity has increased as well, most notably in Brooklyn, which has seen 450+ listings enter contract since the start of Phase 2, bringing contract activity in the borough within 13% of 2019 figures for the same time period. As expected, however, inventory and activity has varied widely by product type, and on the higher end of the market we've seen increased negotiability and competitive pricing as sellers vie for buyer interest in a suddenly saturated market. Today's report details the latest developments in the Manhattan and Brooklyn townhouse markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Manhattan Townhouses under $4M
Manhattan townhouse inventory below $4M is predominantly located north of 96th Street though it may be possible to also find such a listing south of 96th Street which needs an extensive renovation. While new listings are down compared to last year (only 8 new listings of 1- to 3-unit townhouses priced below $4M since Phase 2 began versus 11 in the same time period last year), active inventory remains high with 60 additional units currently on the market. While these homes are currently priced conservatively at an average just under $1,000/SqFt, individual prices vary dramatically based on location, size, and renovation work required. While we are limited by a small sample size from which to draw conclusions, based on available information, in-contract listings had a price reduction of less than 4% on average, and homes that have sold since May 1 closed on average ~4.5% below asking price. Manhattan Townhouses over $4M On the higher end of the townhouse market in Manhattan, inventory has increased significantly since the start of Phase 2, with 23 new 1- to 3-unit listings versus 17 during the same time period last year, listed at an average price per square foot of just over $2,000. However, homes currently in-contract were priced much lower at an average of $1,737/SqFt, and had 3% price reductions on average from their initial asking. While only a handful of these townhouses have sold since mid-June, the 5 closed sales sold at ~$1,662/sqft, on average 17% below initial asking.
Brooklyn Townhouses over $2M In the higher-priced tier of Brooklyn 1- to 3-unit townhouses, inventory is much higher compared to this time last year, with 46 new homes priced over $2M+ listed in the last two weeks (versus just 19 in 2019). There are 150 active listings, priced at an average of ~$1,150/SqFt. How these listings will perform remains to be seen. During the pandemic and immediately after, average price per square foot on closed listings was substantially lower. Similar homes sold under $1,000/SqFt on average from April 1-June 22, and for $1072/SqFt since June 22. However, the predictive value of this data is limited due to many factors, including limitations on showings and low levels of new inventory (as opposed to stale inventory that had been on the market since the winter or longer). Brooklyn Townhouses under $2M
The Brooklyn townhouse market below $2M is a huge and varied segment. In some neighborhoods, like Brooklyn Heights, there may be no townhouses even available below $2M. In places like Park Slope or Boerum Hill, it is possible to find a property that is below $2M, but these are rare and likely means the property requires a gut or has some other issue. There are also many neighborhoods where most if not all of the inventory (from gut to brand-new renovation) lies within the $1-2M range. So, it is very hard to generalize. Add to that a problem with data -- while there are plenty of listings across Brooklyn, we have very little reliable data in some neighborhoods, particularly those further away from Manhattan. For that reason, we will be limiting the following analysis to 1- to 3-unit townhouses in neighborhoods adjacent to or north of Prospect Park in the $1-2M range.
Since the start of Phase 2, there have been 119 new such listings compared to 86 during the same time period in 2019. This segment of the market tends to have little negotiability except for homes with major problems, i.e. those with title or occupancy issues or those requiring such extensive renovations they are not traditionally financeable. While this continues to be true generally, this summer buyers may be able to capitalize on the increased inventory to drive some negotiability. Listings that have closed since the start of May have sold, on average, ~7% below asking; however, negotiability ranged widely, as ~51% of these homes sold with no price reductions while on market, and closed less than 3% below asking on average, while the remaining 49% of homes reduced by an average of 8% while actively listed, and closed more than 11% below their initial asking prices on average.
With NYC poised to enter Phase Two of the NY State reopening plan on Monday, June 22, real estate showings and other activity will resume. We anticipate a surge in new listings in the next few weeks and will monitor the market closely for pricing trends. In the meantime, here is an update on the first half of June: Negotiability
The most recent Compass negotiability survey, which tracked offers made in Manhattan and Brooklyn from May 16th to June 15, was fairly consistent with data from earlier in the month. Brooklyn buyers seem to expect less negotiability than Manhattan buyers, while Brooklyn sellers have been much less willing to entertain offers more than ~5% below-ask than their Manhattan counterparts.
In Manhattan, 36 total offers were reported, with a median negotiability range between 7-9.9% below-asking for the 24 successful offers (although notably, 54% of accepted offers were at least 7% below-asking. Of the 12 rejected offers that were reported, all but three (75%) were at least 10% below-asking, with a median discount range between 15-16%.
In Brooklyn, 46 offers were reported, with 31 accepted (median negotiability range 1-3.9%), and 19% of these were at no discount from the listing price. Interestingly, median negotiability for the 15 rejected offers was not much higher -- 4-6.9% -- indicating buyers in Brooklyn have been far less inclined to offer significantly below asking than in Manhattan. Activity
The first half of June saw a 37% increase in new listings in Manhattan and a 32% increase in Brooklyn compared to the second half of May, but overall, new listings across both boroughs were down more than 36% versus the same time period last year. Contracts signed between June 1 - 15th were also down 70% in Manhattan and 52% in Brooklyn this year compared to last. Details below: