The city is still affected by the virus. The number of homes sold in Manhattan in the past three months fell 46 percent compared to the same period last year. There's a gaping budget deficit, crime is on the rise, and the percentage of positive Covid-19 results, though lower than many other cities, is rising, as are the reopening of schools and struggling businesses. In response, the state announced this week that it would be closing schools and non-essential businesses and severely restricting visits to places of worship in parts of Brooklyn and Queens and parts of some northern suburbs for at least two weeks. based on the severity of recent spikes in new cases.
But there are also signs of improvement. Outdoor guests line the trading streets, young families revitalize the parks, and some prized cultural institutions are reviving. That renewed energy contributed to a 27.5 percent drop in new registrations in September – the first drop in inventory levels in five months, Miller said, and a strong indicator that sellers are no longer panicking. While sales have not yet exceeded the previous year's level, the number of contracts signed has increased every month since May. Discounts of less than 10 percent are widespread, but prices haven't come down yet, except in segments of the ultra-luxury tier.
Brooklyn, and to a lesser extent Queens, have seen even greater momentum since the personal screenings restarted in June. 364 new contracts were signed in Brooklyn last month, up 21 percent from the same period last year, according to broker Douglas Elliman. The focus was on more affordable stocks: over half of its sales were under $ 1 million, and almost all of them were under $ 2 million.
The sales pace at the lower end of the market reflects who is staying in town. A disproportionate proportion of New Yorkers outbound – an estimated 420,000 people from March to early May – were wealthy, mobile and precisely the target group for thousands of overpriced, currently vacant apartments. Their departure to the suburbs and beyond has flattened an already sluggish market that relies on people who own more than one home. Many others left because of job loss, school closings and health concerns.
There are new incentives for those who have the option to stay in New York. Manhattan rental inventory hit a 14-year high of 15,923 units available in September, roughly three times inventory levels from the same period last year, Miller said. The average Manhattan concession is now two months of free rent on a one-year lease tied to the highest rate in the past decade.
A major housing company, Choice New York Companies, which manages 225 properties in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, said its vacancy rate rose from just 3.5 percent last year to 13.5 percent Partly because tenants break their leases and move away.