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Elegran Manhattan Market Update: November 2021

Manhattan Market Update

Although the weather is cooling down, the Manhattan real estate market is certainly not and NYC seems to get more active each week. With the opening of the Observation Deck at One Vanderbilt, the return of Bryant Park’s holiday fair and ice rink, and Broadway shows, Midtown’s streets are busy once again — and buyers are taking notice. After a brief decrease of activity in August and September contract activity is increasing across the board once again in October. In October, 1,280 contracts were signed, a 32% increase from last month while supply decreased 3% in the same period. October continued to set a decade record for the most contracts signed in that month and the increase in contract activity is especially pronounced in the higher price points (i.e., Luxury market), a positive sign for the real estate market overall. While the median sales price and median price per square foot remained relatively unchanged over the last month, bidding wars are increasingly common and the median listing discounts have declined 7% over the last month to a median of 3.9% in October.

Manhattan Supply

In an atypical October season, supply decreased 2.4% to 6,555 units despite record setting new apartment inventory. At the end of October 2020, there were 9,550 units available for sale, nearly 3,000 more than are available today, while supply increased 3% in October 2020 [compared to decreasing 2.4% this October]. Today, buyers awaiting more inventory may be disappointed as weekly new inventory continues to trend lower, and this is compounded by a steady increase in contract activity throughout October.

Monthly new supply: Compared to the previous ten Octobers, this month set a record for the most new-to-market listings over the last decade, as 1,935 units were listed for sale.

Total supply: Manhattan inventory in October 2021 is currently lower than it was for the last three years, and slightly above 2017’s level. Total supply in 2020 remains the high water mark for supply over the past decade, with 9,498 units for sale.

Note: “Total Supply” refers to the amount of inventory on the market at a given time. “New Supply” or “New-to-Market” refers to the amount of new inventory that came on the market in a specific time period.

INVENTORY: Key Takeaways

  • Manhattan supply decreased across all price ranges, neighborhoods, and bedroom counts over the last month, with the exception of listings on the Upper West Side which increased 2% compared to last month.
  • Inventory decreased the most in the $10M+ price range, while the under $600K-$1M, $1-$2M and $2-$5M price ranges decreased the least.
  • Inventory on the Upper East Side decreased 8%, and inventory in Midtown and Downtown decreased 3% over the last month.
  • There are nearly as many 1-bedroom units available for sale as there are 2-bedroom and 3+ bedroom units, but significantly fewer studios available for sale.

Manhattan Buyer Activity as measured by signed contracts, set a decade high for the month of October with 1,280 contracts signed. Contract activity has not been this high in the month of October since 2015, when 1,129 signed contracts were reported.

While new supply continued to outpace contract activity this month, the amount of signed contracts remains at high levels with increases week-over-week throughout October. For each of the last two weeks in October, 300+ contracts were signed, the first time there had been two consecutive weeks with more than 300 contracts signed since June 2021. Compared to October 2020, 410 more contracts were signed this year, a 47% increase from the 870 contracts signed in 2020. An increase in contract activity is indicative of a continued uptick of buyer activity and renewed confidence in the recovering New York City real estate market and New York City in general.

CONTRACT ACTIVITY: Key Takeaways

  • Contract activity increased over the last month in all price ranges, neighborhoods, and bedroom sizes, with the exception of a 1% decrease in Upper Manhattan. What does this mean? indicates strong buyer activity.
  • Contract activity increased the most in the $5–10M price point, and least in the 600K and below range. What does this mean? Increasing activity in the luxury segments of the market tends to be viewed as a positive bellwether for the health of the real estate market overall.
  • Midtown had the most contracts signed, while Upper Manhattan had the lowest number of signed contracts, and was the only neighborhood to see a decrease in contract activity.
  • Contract activity increased the most for 3+ bedroom apartments, and increased the least for 1-bedrooms, though 1 beds had the greatest number of contracts signed.

Manhattan’s Market Pulse Continued to Decline in October, extending a Window of Opportunity for Buyers

Manhattan’s Market Pulse [a ratio between pending sales and supply] for Manhattan decreased 1.5% from last month to 0.67. This dip indicates that pending sales are falling faster than supply, and buyers have a window of opportunity where seller’s leverage has decreased, since peaking over the summer. While the market is still a seller’s market, it has softened a bit over the last two months as supply has increased since hitting a low point prior to Labor Day.

In essence, the lower the market pulse, the more leverage for the buyer. The higher the market pulse, the more leverage for the seller.

A Market Pulse below 0.4 is considered a buyer’s market, a Market Pulse between 0.4 and 0.6 is considered a neutral market and a Market Pulse above 0.6 is considered a seller’s market.] In a seller’s market, sellers often have more leverage than buyers because demand is greater than supply, resulting in apartments selling quickly, fewer discounts and increased bidding wars.

Chart Courtesy of UrbanDigs

MARKET PULSE: Key Takeaways

  • The market pulse decreased in the $2M and below price ranges, and increased in the $2M and up price ranges. The market pulse is highest in the $600K-1M price point, and lowest in the $10M and up price point. The lower price ranges remain more competitive [ie seller’s market] compared to the higher price ranges.
  • The market pulse decreased across all neighborhoods except for the Upper East Side, which increased by 5%, and Downtown Manhattan, which had no change from last month. The market pulse is highest in the Upper West Side and Downtown [0.75], and lowest in Midtown [0.58].
  • The market pulse increased for studios and 3+ bedrooms, while decreasing in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and there is more competition amongst 1 bedroom apartments than 3+ bedroom apartments.

Pricing & Discounts

The Median Sales Price across Manhattan for the month of September was $1,121,250, a negligible decrease of half of a percent from last month.

MEDIAN SALES PRICE: Key Takeaways

  • By neighborhood, the median sales price for condos increased in the Upper West Side, Midtown, and Downtown markets, while decreasing in Upper Manhattan and the Upper East Side. The Downtown market remains the most expensive.
  • In the Upper West Side, the Median Sales Price increased by 60% to a median sales price of $1,761,250.
  • Co-ops on the Upper East Side had no change, while the median sales price increased slightly in Midtown and Downtown.
  • The median sales price for 2 bedroom condos decreased by 1%, while increasing 3% for co-ops.

Because Median Sales Price, on a monthly basis, is dependent on what closed that month, monthly swings can occur and it’s important to note that although the Median Sales Price on the Upper West Side increased 60% in October compared to September, it does not inherently mean that prices appreciated 60%, rather it’s a reflection of the changing complexion of properties that did sell in the Upper West Side in October.

A more accurate and consistent representation of price appreciation is the Median Price per Square Foot [PPSF], which was $1,330 in October, virtually unchanged from last month. It is important to note that real estate is hyper-local and some units are going to be more or less in demand, and therefore more or less valuable today, given changing consumer preferences.

MEDIAN PPSF: Key Takeaways

  • Median PPSF increased the most in the sub $600K price range, and decreased the most in the $5–10M price point.
  • The Upper West Side saw an increase in median PPSF of 42% over the last month, while other neighborhoods, except for Downtown [+2%], saw a decrease.
  • Over the last year, all neighborhoods saw an increase in Median PPSF except for Upper Manhattan, which decreased 1%.
  • Median PPSF for Studio apartments remained flat month-over-month and decreased 1% for 2-bedroom apartments.

Median listing discounts in Manhattan Continue to Decline

Median listing discounts continued to decrease in October and is currently 3.9%, a decrease of 7.1% from last month.

MEDIAN LISTING DISCOUNT: Key Takeaways

  • The median listing discount decreased across all apartment types except for Condos which remained the same.
  • The median discount for co-ops is 3.4%, lower than the 4.7% for condos and 7.5% for townhouses.
  • The median listing discount decreased across all price points except for the $1–2M price range, which increased by 5%.
  • Across all neighborhoods, the median listing discount in Upper Manhattan increased by 19%, and decreased across the other neighborhoods.
  • The median discount is lowest for properties on the Upper West Side [2.7%] and highest for properties in Midtown [4.8%]
  • By bedroom size, the median listing discount decreased across the board compared to last month and year.

What this means for…

Buyers:

  • Buyers awaiting more inventory may be disappointed as weekly new inventory continues to trend lower and is compounded by a steady increase in contract activity throughout October.
  • Contract activity continues to set decade records in October and activity increased greatly in the luxury segments, which is typically viewed as a positive bellwether for the health of the NYC real estate market overall.
  • While the market is still a seller’s market, October’s decrease of pending sales at a faster rate than supply has lowered the Market Pulse and extended the window of opportunity for buyers as the market has softened over the last two months.
  • Median listing discounts continue to decrease and the percentage of listings that sell over the asking price is increasing, indicative of continued competition for desirable and accurately-priced properties.
  • Mortgage interest rates are beginning to increase once again, decreasing one’s buying power as the cost of money increases.

Sellers:

  • Based on the Market Pulse and overall supply levels, peak liquidity for sellers appears to have passed.
  • October set a decade-record for the most new-to-market supply.
  • Total supply is lower than 2018 levels.
  • Sellers on the market, who are not receiving their desired bids should reevaluate their asking prices ahead of the approaching holiday season.

Renters:

  • Supply continues to decline and inventory is being absorbed quicker
  • Rents, on median, have recovered the COVID discount and are back to 2018 and 2019 levels.
  • Weekly new inventory continues to decline, putting further pressure on the rental market as leasing activity continues to outpace new rental supply.

Investors:

  • With both the rental and sales market improving, investors are interested in the Manhattan market once again.
  • Cap rates are stabilizing and can increase in the coming months and years as the rental and sales market continue to rebound.
  • With equities at elevated levels and concerns about inflation, real estate is a compelling alternative asset class.

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