New York’s Townhouses Poised for Comeback as Buyers Prize Space, Privacy and Social Distance

Posted June 8th, 2020 by Leslie Garfield Team

A segment of the market that’s slumped in recent years may see a flood of fresh interest

The past two years have seen a slowdown in New York City’s formerly gangbusters real estate market, with townhouses facing a particularly stark slump—median sales prices for Manhattan townhouses plunged nearly 35% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2019.

But as buyers look ahead to life after the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s single-family homes may hold fresh appeal, and are already generating market chatter.

New developments offering deep benches of amenities have dominated much of the high-end market in recent years, but some New Yorkers who’ve faced the past two months stuck in their homes may find themselves reassessing the appeal of densely populated buildings, newly enticed by the lure of private outdoor space that doesn’t require a drive outside of city limits.

Personal Space Becomes Top Priority

At the same time that apartment buildings have temporarily closed off amenity spaces, some of their residents are reconsidering the relative safety of a single-family home in the midst of an outbreak.

No matter how state-of-the-art an apartment building’s recreational spaces, for the moment, they’ll have a tough time competing with private backyards, and properties with extra space that could come in handy in the event residents need to shelter in place, host guests and family members for long stretches, or simply work from home.

New Construction and Boutique Townhouses/Maisonettes Stand to Benefit

Buyers looking to relocate as a reaction to the current crisis aren’t, for the most part, interested in taking on years-long renovation projects, a preference that gives a significant edge to recently renovated, turnkey properties.

It could also mean increased demand for boutique condos and maisonette units that come with private entrances, but also include the service amenities one would expect in a luxury apartment building.

Pricing and sales data have yet to fully reflect the extent of the current crisis, but while townhouses were the first segment of the market to soften in the most recent downturn prior to Covid-19, in the case of the post-pandemic market, they may be relatively insulated.