Rents across the city remain at record highs, but the Manhattan real estate sales market appears to be slowing down, with climbing interest rates and recession fears driving buyers and sellers to hold out in Hell’s Kitchen according to a new analysis by realtors Douglas Elliman.
The real estate firm’s report on the fourth quarter of 2022 said median Manhattan home sale prices dropped 5.5 per cent, the first drop since before COVID-19. In contrast, median rental prices rose 2.1 percent in the final three months of 2022.
The analysis, which was first reported by CNBC, shows that the number of condo sales in Manhattan dropped 29 percent in the final quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year. People with existing mortgages are unwilling to move, because it would expose them to higher rates. It both decreases the volume of sales, leading to properties sitting on the market for longer, and prompts people trying to sell to cut the price.
“Brokers worry about what some are calling a deep freeze,” said CNBC’s Robert Frank. “That’s where sellers don’t list because prices are soft, and buyers are waiting for more dramatic price cuts — so they’re just sitting on the sidelines. Low inventory is also holding back sales. The number of unsold apartments rose a little bit — about 5 percent, but still well below the normal levels.”
In Hell’s Kitchen, W42ST found numerous properties to support the citywide trend of apartments taking months to sell and owners cutting prices, including:
- StreetEasy listings that had been on sale for as long as 274 days, including this $730k one-bedroom condo on W42nd Street in the Atelier building which is discounted $50k.
- $21k lopped off a gut-renovated $744k one-bedroom co-op with a terrace in The Geneva building on W57th Street
- $99k discounted from a floor-to-ceiling windowed $950k condo in the Orion on W42nd Street which was first listed last May at $1,149,000.
- As much as $260k slashed from a sparkling, three-bedroom, three-bath $6.6M condo on W57th Street with panoramic Central Park and Hudson River views
- A 57th floor apartment at 322 W57th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues which has been cut twice in price, from $7,995,000 in September to $6,690,000 now. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom property shows that the so-called Billionaires Row is affected by the trend.
- At 310 W52nd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, this four-bedroom townhouse in The Link building was first listed last April for $4.3million and is now on the market at $3,498,000.
- Even some of Midtown’s most intriguing properties — such as the sky-high $27M One Waterline Square penthouse and Trevor Noah’s palatial, three-bedroom, three-bathroom $12.9M top-floor unit — are still on the market. In the case of One Waterline Square, it has now been available for more than a year, but the price has not been cut.
The “freeze” has also led to an all-time high in cash purchases. “The market share of cash buyers reached a record 55.2%, the highest in nine years of tracking, reflecting the high mortgage rate environment,” the realtor reported.
The average Manhattan home sale in October, November and December was $1,940,565, down 0.7% on the previous three months and 0.4% on the same three months in 2021. And the median sales price—the point at which 50% of sales are either below or above— was $1,100,500, down 5.5% year over year. That was the first decline since the second quarter of 2020, the official beginning of the “pandemic era” in the property market.
The decrease, the realtors said, was fueled by a significant fall in the cost of sales in new developments. The average new development sale was $1,981,794 in the last quarter, compared to $2,223,500 in 2021, a fall of 10.9% in a year. But at the luxury end of the market, which Douglas Elliman says begins at $3,95 million, prices are still rising. The average luxury sale was $8,058,356, up 0.4% on the previous quarter and 3.6% on the previous year.
Despite fears over a slowdown in purchases, analysts expect cash sales and foreign buyers to keep the industry moving. And there may be hope yet for worried Manhattanites wanting to rent, rather than buy, their own slice of the Big Apple.
MORE Hell’s KITCHEN REAL ESTATE NEWS
Business Insider reported that the pandemic “Zoomtown” boom — in which newly remote workers flocked to lower cost of living suburbs and smaller cities — could eventually drive prices back down in the city. Previously less-populated areas like the Sun Belt have seen dramatic increases and a need for expanded housing, and the same regions are easier targets than New York City for developers due to more lenient zoning laws, smaller regulatory fees and a lower cost of land.
While the perfect storm of zoning conflicts, empty rent-stabilized apartments and warehoused units may still threaten the city’s housing market, “Zoomtown” build outs could still have a positive effect on the city’s real estate pickings, bringing inflation-adjusted rents down by as much as 3.7 percent according to Business Insider. Senior economist Jeff Tucker of Zillow told them: “This spike in prices in the short term should be followed by moving toward a new equilibrium, which does mean a bit of a cooldown in housing costs.” As every New Yorker who has to pay rent knows, every penny counts!