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Manhattan Homebuyers Send Sales Soaring to Best in Three Decades

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 10/5/2021 Oshrat Carmiel

(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan apartment sales surged to a record in the third quarter as buyers grabbed what they could while inventory remains high. 

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Closed purchases totaled 4,523, the most for any quarter in data going back to 1989, according to a report Tuesday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The median price of all properties that changed hands climbed 1.4% from a year earlier to $1.12 million.

Home shoppers who held back in Covid-19’s early days have returned in force, sensing a chance to secure a deal while the city is still recovering. Employers are gradually summoning workers back to the office as the recent rise in cases flattens and Broadway returns -- small measures of confidence that it’s a good time to invest. 

“There’s more optimism and a sense of safety in the market,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. “And there’s a sense that Covid discounts are evaporating quickly. They’re not going to have a lot of life left in them.”

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Buyers moved fast: Homes that sold in the quarter spent an average of 152 days on the market, 10% less time than in the prior three months. 

And some were willing to enter bidding wars: The share of deals closing above the asking price was 8.3%, the highest in three years.

Read more: NYC’s Surging Real Estate Market Boosts Coffers With Tax Revenue

“People learned a decade ago that when you get a buying opportunity like this, you want to take advantage of it,” said Greg Heym, chief economist at brokerage Brown Harris Stevens, which released its own report on Manhattan home sales. 

The median price of resale apartments jumped 9% from a year earlier to a median of $999,250, Brown Harris said.

The deal surge helped whittle down Manhattan’s massive pile of listings from earlier in the pandemic. As of mid-September, there were 6,850 apartments for sale, 28% fewer than a year ago, according to a report by Corcoran Group. 

Still, inventory remained historically high -- at 17% more than the decade average for a third quarter, according to Miller. 

“Buyers still have a significant amount of control over the transactions,” he said.

 

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