Manhattan is officially back.

NYC real estate froze at the start of the pandemic, but for the first time since March 2020, real-estate transactions have exceeded those of the same period last year. And it’s not just dirt-cheap purchases, either, according to a new report from New York-based brokerage Douglas Elliman today. 

Brokers closed 50 more sales in the first quarter of 2021 than they did in 2020, narrowly beating pre-pandemic measures and officially marking a break from — if not the end of — COVID-related losses, according to the report.

And 1,500 Manhattan homes were under contract for sale in March, the highest monthly number in 14 years, according to UrbanDigs, a NYC-based real-estate market data company.

And it’s not just bargain hunters getting deals. While there were fewer super-luxe transactions, the median sales price was more expensive than it was during the first quarter of last year, typically going for about $1,075,000, up 1.4% from the $1,060,000 median last year, according to Douglas Elliman.

And sellers are offering fewer discounts — about 4.6% compared to 7.2% at the same time last year, according to Douglas Elliman. 

“Some of this is pure psychology for sellers, who have taken the view that since NYC is coming back then prices should firm. It’s a pretty binary thought process, but understandable,” said Rowena Dasgupta, a real-estate agent at Warburg Realty. 

Economists spotted signs of recovery back in January, but the trend is predicted to accelerate even more this spring, as the spring home-buying season combines with pandemic recovery.

Brokers closed 50 more sales in the first quarter of 2021 than they did in 2020, narrowly beating historical measures and officially marking the end of pandemic-related losses.
Brokers closed 50 more sales in the first quarter of 2021 than they did in 2020, narrowly beating historical measures and officially marking the end of pandemic-related losses.
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“Looping back to the vaccine question (for people over 50), the pronounced increase in volume of buyers looking at apartments runs the risk of further convincing sellers that they are correct in their approach [not to lower prices],” said Dasgupta.

But that doesn’t mean buyers have missed the boat — if they move fast. Inventory (number of homes on the market for sale) is 18.2% higher than it was last year, providing supply estimated to last through the end of the year, according to Douglas Elliman. 

Sales numbers for the month of March were even more drastic, though that’s not hard to beat, since the market completely shut down for the second half of the month last year. But condo and co-op sales were up almost 700% in Manhattan compared to in March last year, and new listings were up only about 20% compared to last year, according to a separate Douglas Elliman report

While there were fewer super-luxe transactions, the median sales price was more expensive than it was during the first quarter of last year.
While there were fewer super-luxe transactions, the median sales price was more expensive than it was during the first quarter of last year.
Getty Images

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