How has Covid 19 affected average sale prices and sale volume in Manhattan?

In the Manhattan housing market,  sale volume has dropped, but there are deals, a revival since the market was legally re-opened in late June.  This could be in temporary jeopardy this winter, as we retreat indoors and face a second COVID wave.   For the moment, however, there is strong interest in a listing I have at 33 West 67th Street, priced at $4,950,000.  Three showings have been scheduled this week, with a possible fourth early next week. 

Broader indicators of price and volume data come from a few sources.  Closed sales volume is the most solid, although it lags current market deal-making by a few months.  The figures below are from closed sale data on Resource (by RealPlus).  Resource combines the data of the Real Estate Board of New York’s Manhattan brokerage firms, and it has a Market Analytics tool that can be used to sort the data according to various criteria. 

In these tables, post-Covid-lockdown sale prices and sale volume in 2020 is compared to price and volume data in the same months of 2019.  (The real estate market was closed for showings from March 23, 2020 until late June.)  

Average sale prices

What the tables indicate is very interesting.  There is no consistency in the average monthly prices, both in the market as a whole and for the more expensive properties ($4 million or more).  Prices are not likely rising and falling in line with these averages. Monthly averages change all the time, in any market.

Are the monthly average prices lower in 2020?   Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But wasn’t the market weaker in 2020?  Look specifically at the averages in the $4+ million dollar market; several of them were higher in 2020 than in 2019.   This is a very difficult market, so intuitively, yes, prices should be lower this year, but intuition can mislead.  The averages depend largely on what apartments sold.  Sellers may refuse to sell at a discount, so perhaps only the better apartments are selling; or perhaps a number of high priced new condominiums are closing (following contracts signed a year or two ago); or perhaps the mix of apartments has changed including a higher proportion of larger units.  Any, or a combination of these trends impacts the monthly figures and could skew the 2020 averages upwards.  

 Average sale  volume

While the variation in average sale prices has been uneven, the drop-off sale volume has been dramatic.  In some months this year, closed sale volume was less than half that in 2019  In others, it was only slightly more than half. However, the slow down actually began prior to the Covid crisis, as indicated by late March, April and May sales.  (Sales are generally under contract some months prior to closing.) For sales at or over $4,000,000, the drop off in closed sales volume, relative to 2019, has been much less marked in recent months. 


Month 2020, average price 2019, average price
March 23-31 $2,283,870 $1,784,238
April $2,579,128 $2,068,182
May $1,801,302 $2,145,735
June $1,515,294 $3,000,241
July $2,163,233 $1,629,378
August $1,997,836 $1,698,525
September $2,215,970 $1,885,881
October  $1,920,019 $1,690,560
November $1,768,991 $1,826,103


Month 2020, average price 2019, average price
March23-31 $8,956,238 $6,588,154
April $12,528,594 $7,785,631
May $7,894,099 $8,138,065
June $6,498,762 $8,424,388
July $11,000,902 $8,476,618
August $9,533,866 $8,109,904
September $10,283,600 $9,267,991
October $8,087,787 $8,125,232
November $6,767,558 $9,422,215


Month 2020 # of sales 2019 # of sales
March 23-31 129 241
April 456 1,077
May 580 1,210
June 770 1,531
July 667 1,017
August 495 1,021
September 514 1,010
October  670 1,028
November 524 821


Month 2020 # of sales 2019 # of sales
March23-31 17 20
April 50 109
May 50 143
June 42 332
July 59 66
August 47 63
September 52 81
October 65 71
November 48 57
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