Manhattan Home-Shoppers Aren’t Finding Huge Covid Discounts Yet

Manhattan home-shoppers are insistent on finding bargains in the midst of the pandemic. Sellers aren’t offering many.

The median price of previously owned homes that changed hands in the fourth quarter fell just 1.5% from a year earlier to $925,000, according to a report Tuesday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The lack of deep discounting held back buyers: The number of resales tumbled 23% to 1,617.

Manhattan Home-Shoppers Aren’t Finding Huge Covid Discounts Yet

Shoppers are seeking opportunity at a time when thousands of New Yorkers have fled, office work remains remote and nightlife is on hold. While developers of new multimillion-dollar condos boosted sales by cutting deals for well-heeled buyers, owners of existing and lower-priced homes are making fewer concessions. They’re holding out hope that Covid-19 vaccines will bring people back to Manhattan and eventually get them their asking price.

“They withstood the pandemic this far, they can take it a little further,” said Steven James, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman’s New York office. “They have a sense that we’re pulling out of this and if they wait a little bit longer, it’s going to be a little bit better.”

In the fourth quarter, units that sold for less than $500,000 spent an average of 153 days on the market, or 41% longer than a year earlier, brokerage Corcoran Group said in its own report. Homes costing $500,000 to $1 million lingered for 129 days on average, a 12% increase. For homes in the $2 million to $3 million range, the listing time fell 7%.

Fewer resales led to a pileup of inventory. At the end of 2020, there were 9,964 properties on the market, up 36% and the highest year-end total since 2008, according to Corcoran.

The steepest price declines were for Manhattan’s largest co-op apartments, brokerage Brown Harris Stevens said in its own report. The average for a co-op with three or more bedrooms fell 23% from a year earlier to $2.45 million. Condos with at least three bedrooms sold for an average of $4.26 million, down 2.5%.

“With inventory still at high levels,” Brown Harris CEO Bess Freedman said in the report, “there will be more price adjustments needed to attract buyers.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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