Manhattan's Luxury Real Estate Market May Be Rebounding

Manhattan’s luxury real estate market is on the rebound, with top firms reporting sales of properties over $4 million at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic. Twenty-one homes asking $4 million or more went into contract with Olshan Realty last week. That’s the highest number since mid-March, when New York City went into COVID-19 lockdown, and the most for the last week of September since 2014. Last week, the company reported luxury deals totaling $173 million, another post-lockdown record, including two properties over $20 million.

A $30 million four-bedroom penthouse in a Renzo Piano–designed building in SoHo was one of Douglas Elliman’s top sales last week, according to Mansion Global, going into contract after just one viewing and a few weeks of negotiations. The Corcoran Group’s figures from last week tell a similar tale: Total sales were down compared to the same period last year, but they were up in the luxury bracket.

Manhattan's Zaha Hadid–designed condo, where a penthouse recently sold for $24.95 million.

Zaha Hadid new Chelsea Condo

Manhattan's Zaha Hadid–designed condo, where a penthouse recently sold for $24.95 million.
Photo: Getty Images/Ivan Chertok

Twelve properties in the $3 to $5 million range went into contract the week ending September 25. That’s more than double the week prior and on par with the same period in 2019. Corcoran also saw two sales over $20 million last week, the most since the pandemic started. “We’re seeing pent-up demand with opportunistic buyers creating a fluid market,” says Corcoran Group president Pam Liebman. “A lot of people still believe in New York. Typically in an election year you have a lot of fence-sitters, but with interest rates down people are looking to buy. Even a lot of first-time buyers in their 20s and 30s.”

The week ending September 18 saw Corcoran’s sales increase 42% overall, spread across all price levels. Liebman says for real estate, September is often a strange month: “It can be a good month for sales, but it really depends on when the Jewish holidays are.” Some realtors or clients may not wish to conduct business or be preoccupied with preparations for the High Holy Days. This year, Rosh Hashanah fell between September 18 and 20, with Yom Kippur starting at sundown on Sunday, September 27.

Google is one of many large tech companies to sign significant deals in New York City.

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Google is one of many large tech companies to sign significant deals in New York City.
Photo: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

“Going back to the first part of the month, between September 5 and 19, every sale marker was well above last year,” Liebman says. “The Upper West Side was up by 43 percent.” Anecdotally, she says she’s also seen a return to in-person showings, as both realtors and prospective buyers adapt to COVID-19 protocols. “I’m pleasantly surprised and I’m going to be optimistic about the market,” Liebman said.

Luxury condos are indeed selling, though buyers are getting them for a bargain: A Zaha Hadid–designed triplex in Chelsea went into contract two weeks ago with a final asking price of $24.95 million—less than half of its original $50 million price tag. But Liebman and Olshan both say experts who declare New York real estate “over” are being short-sighted. Olshan points to Google, Facebook, Amazon, Shopify, and TikTok all inking deals in Manhattan in the past several months.

“In the short term New York City's recovery is vaccine-dependent, just as it is for cities all over the world,” says Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty. “But, over time, the history of New York has shown that it is a highly resilient city. It is the cultural, financial, and creative capital of the world, and if you can get a slice of it at a discount, it's a great financial move.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest