“The story that I’m seeing across the board: All segments are transacting. New York [real estate] is back, and people want to be here.”– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
Statistically, that’s an excellent summation of New York City’s real estate market. While real estate was least of all financial asset classes hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not really “recovering”. Quite amazingly, it’s heating up. It has been for months now, but experts predict that was just a warm up (Singh, CNBC).
“We’re coming off a record number of signed contracts in the second quarter, and what’s driving that is buyers are seeing value. They’re sensing opportunity, and there’s a real sense of hope for an economic boom in September when it opens up.”– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
In other words, even reasonable rental prices are getting nearly impossible to find almost anywhere in New York City. The buyer’s market is a different story. As Kromer put it, “For the most part, if you’re buying today, it’s probably less expensive than it would have been three or four years ago”. For these purposes, suppose we break New York City’s real estate market into two distinct elements. The profit opportunity for cash buyers has been there and will continue to be there for a prolonged time. Conversely, the residential real estate market for renters, who are mostly living paycheck-to-paycheck, is a nightmare (Nasdaq).
A Contradictory Study
Although, a recent Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel report appeared to somewhat contradict this philosophy. The report showed median resale prices for Manhattan apartments reached an all-time high in Q2 2021 (Douglas Elliman). Average sale prices rose 12% in the quarter (Douglas Elliman). They topped $1.9 million and there was also a 150% gain in sales during that same time period, compared to 2020. In Q2 of 2020, Manhattan apartment sales had their largest percentage decline in 30 years. Residents fled Manhattan during the COVID-19 pandemic, so brokers largely weren’t even able to show apartments to prospective buyers.
Kromer had a response to the data presented by the Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel report.
“I think it’s probably tilted with a lot of high-end closings. The luxury market has been booming lately with a lot of discounts.”– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
The recent activity in Manhattan’s luxury housing market still hasn’t wiped away the excess inventory created by COVID-19. In the luxury market, sellers are coming down on asking prices to meet buyers on their side. This in turn gives buyer’s even more buying power because they have options.
“What’s driving this are more realistic sellers and softer prices. We still are at near-record levels of inventory. So, the sellers are going down to meet the buyers at their prices. The buyers have options.”– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
Moving Beyond Manhattan
Astoundingly, markets in the outer boroughs of New York, such as Brooklyn, showed far more resilience through the pandemic. This is again compared to the luxury, upscale housing market in Manhattan; a very significant geographic market difference.
“People were looking for value, for space and less dense areas, and you did not see the discounts that you saw in Manhattan in the outer boroughs”.– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
A few of Kromer’s own listings in Queens and Brooklyn recently sold above asking price, after receiving multiple offers. One two-bedroom co-op in Brooklyn even sold at roughly 8-9% above the price it sold at three years ago.
“A single-family home in Queens was overwhelmed with interest. We had about 50 showings within the first week, with it selling for about 10% above the asking price”.– Christopher Kromer, Brown Harris Stevens
Despite the study from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel, data shows NYC’s housing market is prospering. Housing rental prices on luxurious Manhattan properties are barely affordable. Rental prices outside the heart of New York are still steep and the availability of affordable housing is shrinking. This is nearly all attributed to the “buyer’s market” NYC real estate is clearly in the midst of. Prospective renters need to act fast to avoid losing out on any decent affordable housing in the five boroughs. Prices will only continue to increase, while availability will only continue to decrease.