Manhattan condo sales decline in the fourth quarter, and realtors fear a market freeze

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Manhattan condominium gross sales fell 29% in the latest quarter, sparking fears of a market freeze as consumers and sellers keep on the sidelines as a result of financial and rate of interest issues.

There have been 2,546 gross sales within the quarter, down from 3,560 final 12 months, in accordance with a report by Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel. The decline was the most important for the reason that third quarter of 2020, through the depths of the pandemic.

Costs additionally fell for the primary time since early 2020, with the common value down 5.5%.

The declines in each gross sales and costs sign the top of a roaring comeback in Manhattan actual property after the worst days of the pandemic and lift issues of continued weak point into the brand new 12 months. Rising rates of interest, a weak financial system, and a inventory market droop, which have a big impact on actual property in Manhattan, are prone to have an effect on the market this 12 months.

Analysts say their largest concern is the lengthy stand-off between consumers and sellers – with sellers unwilling to listing amid decrease costs and consumers pausing their searches till costs drop additional.

“I might see the market shifting sideways, with some modest declines in some sectors,” mentioned Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, the valuation and market analysis agency. “It might weaken additional if there’s a backdrop of recession and job losses.”

Even with decrease costs and gross sales, stock stays tight as sellers maintain off listings. There have been 6,523 residences available on the market on the finish of the fourth quarter, in accordance with the report, up simply 5% from a 12 months in the past however nonetheless properly beneath the historic common of about 8,000. With no vital enhance in stock, analysts say costs are unlikely to fall. Sufficient to draw many consumers ready for the sale. The typical low cost from preliminary listing value to sale value was 6.5%, up from 4.1% within the third quarter, in accordance with Serant.

Increased rates of interest additionally moved extra Manhattan consumers to all-cash offers, which accounted for 55% of all gross sales within the fourth quarter, an all-time excessive, in accordance with Miller.

As with a lot of the restoration, the premium and luxurious section continues to be the strongest. Common gross sales costs for luxurious residences — outlined as the highest 10% of the market — elevated 4% within the fourth quarter, matching the decline within the broader Manhattan market. Common costs for luxurious residences elevated by 21% in comparison with 2019, double the rise within the broader market.

2023 prospects

A pipeline of offers within the works or not too long ago signed signifies a sluggish first quarter. There have been solely 2,312 contracts signed within the fourth quarter, down 43% from a 12 months in the past, in accordance with Brown Harris Stevens. The quarter was the worst for brand new contracts signed prior to now decade, in accordance with a report from Serhant.

“Contracts signed are an indicator of demand in good time and have recorded one of many slowest finishes in any 12 months since 2008,” in accordance with Brown Harris-Stevens.

Nonetheless, brokers say they continue to be bullish and plenty of anticipate a bullish shock in 2023, as costs stabilize and consumers discover alternatives in a softer market. December was “on fireplace” with a frenzy of year-end offers, mentioned Jon Gomez, co-founder of Eklund Gomez’s Douglas Elliman workforce.

“It actually stunned us,” he mentioned. Issues actually modified in December.

Gomez mentioned one purchaser paid $20 million for a Greenwich Village home that wasn’t even available on the market. He mentioned an actual property investor had submitted provides for 4 separate residences in new initiatives that “look as if they might be accepted in the present day”.

Ian Slater, of Compass, mentioned there was a big “disconnection” out there in August and September, with a large hole between consumers and sellers and the market beginning to weaken. “Now I see consumers accepting rates of interest as the brand new regular and feeling extra snug shopping for — or a minimum of that charges aren’t taking place.”

Gomez mentioned one of many causes for the explosion of exercise in December was international consumers, who started returning to town in December. With the greenback weakening barely and journey restrictions lifted world wide, brokers say consumers from the Center East and China returned in December.

Brokers say consumers additionally use money to keep away from increased rates of interest and reap the benefits of decrease charges. And builders with new condo buildings available on the market decrease costs to dump unsold residences.

“Builders are practical, they compromise on value and lock in prices,” he mentioned. “I really feel optimistic about subsequent 12 months.”

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