Year-To-Date Closings from Pre-Covid Deals Indicate Strong Market

Posted June 18th, 2020 by Richard Pretsfelder, Sophie Smadbeck

There is no question that we've felt a sudden slowdown in the market since March. However, the numbers tell us there really hasn't been much of a difference in sales volume year-over-year, and in fact, dollar volume, average sales price, and average price per square foot are all up by 26%, 35%, and 20% respectively when comparing the first 5 months of 2020 to the same period in 2019. There were 15 sales through May 2019 compared to 14 thus far in 2020. The bid-ask spread reached an unprecedented 1.5% in May, by far the lowest point since we started tracking it monthly in June 2017. This indicates that prior to the virus, the market had reached a state of equilibrium between buyers and sellers. For comparison, the highest spread was 29.6% in May 2018.

Among the UWS closings and existing properties in contract, only a few have taken place since the pandemic hit NYC, so it's still too early to determine the impact on pricing. Anecdotally, we continue to have steady inquiries on both rentals and sales, particularly on new product. We have also had conversations with potential buyers and renters about why they find townhouse living to be a more attractive option right now, given the privacy and outdoor space. Because of all these factors, we're optimistic that the townhouse market will be the best performing residential asset class as we work our way through this difficult time.

That being said, we anticipate the sale cycle to be longer as a result of COVID-19. Mortgages are taking longer to work their way through the system, and we anticipate more requests for financing contingencies given the general state of uncertainty and the leverage buyers have in the current marketplace. It also takes longer to list new properties given the need for virtual tours and to sell properties given the prohibition on in-person showings for at least another two weeks until the City enters phase 2 of the re-opening. These issues do not necessarily prevent deals from getting done, but they will add time to the sales cycle.

Looking forward, though there may be some level of summer slow down, we are seeing some momentum as more city-wide more listings come to market and post-COVID contract signings and closings are starting to take place. As always, we remain open and willing to discuss the market and answer any questions you may have in this unprecedented time.