Manhattan Sees Jump in Luxury Contracts

It was the highest total and dollar volume since New York’s “on pause” measures took effect in March

Source: Lucy Cohen Blatter, Mansion Global

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The median asking price for homes that went into contract last week was $6.65 million.
Lisa-Blue / Getty Images

Six contracts were signed in Manhattan last week at $4 million and above, representing a significant increase over the one contract logged the week prior. The mix was made up of two townhouses, two condos and two co-ops, according to the weekly Olshan Realty report, which tracks high-end contracts.

It was the highest weekly total and dollar volume ($39.99 million) since the New York state shutdown on March 22. The median asking price for homes that went into contract last week was $6.65 million.

But Ms. Olshan cautioned against seeing this uptick as a sign of a sea change. “It’s hard to be optimistic these days,” she told Mansion Global. “I need at least a few more weeks to say if this is a trend.”

Plus, she added a word of (seasonal) caution: “The summer months are typically a slow period in the luxury market, and a traditional uptick in the fall will again be determined by the course of the virus. Simply put: The virus controls the market.”

Over the past seven weeks, a total of 20 contracts were signed at $4 million and above compared to 158 during the same period last year. Price reductions from original asking price to last asking price averaged 14%. The average days on the market was 653, according to Donna Olshan, author of the report released Monday.

The No. 1 contract to go into contract last week was for a four-story, 20-foot-wide Upper West Side brownstone, asking $7.995 million, down from $9.9 million when it hit the market nearly two years ago. The brownstone, which has appeared in several “Law and Order” episodes, was sold directly by its owner.

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At one point, the owner, Jess Mogul, considered not selling because his children are back home riding out the pandemic. However, it also seemed an opportune time to sell a townhome. “People are freaked out about living in a high rise with elevators and common areas. You can’t find a better situation than this townhouse,” he told Ms. Olshan.

The No. 2 contract was a four-bedroom condominium on the 56th floor of the 80-story 30 Park Place, asking $7.95 million, and reduced from $9.3 million when the building started marketing off of floor plans in 2014.

Angeli Dahiya of Corcoran Sunshine represented developer Larry Silverstein, who also happens to live in the building. The buyer had seen a smaller, lower-floor unit several times, but once the pandemic hit, backed away. The developer became more flexible about price negotiating, so the brokers redirected the buyer to this larger, higher-floor, unit using a virtual tour, Ms. Dahiya said. 

“Pandemic pricing” seemed to pay off. “They were very happy with the deal and so was Silverstein,” Ms. Dahiya said. (Only six units are left of the 157 condos in the limestone building designed by Robert A.M. Stern.)

The jump in new contracts comes after a historically low week, when only one home went into contract. Aside from this week, the largest number of contracts Olshan Realty has clocked in a single week since March 22 was five.