ManhattanIn the Fourth Quarter of 2018 Manhattan real estate market faced familiar headwinds experienced earlier in the year as buyers hesitated despite moderating prices and more availability. Market-wide closed sales declined as potential buyers grappled with a confluence of factors that created uncertainty in the market. Buyers’ concerns included rising mortgage interest rates, tax law reform, volatility in the financial markets, foreign capital restrictions, and political distractions. As a consequence, many prospective buyers are choosing to wait on the sidelines until prices adjust to a more accessible level and other market factors calm.
Fourth Quarter 2018 closings fell 7 percent annually to just under 2,800 sales, bringing the total for 2018 to approximately 11,800 transactions, the lowest annual sales figure since 2009. A weaker condo market drove sales to lower this quarter as resale condo and new development sales fell respectively by 12 percent and 26 percent, year-over year. Resale co-op closings were essentially level with last year. Contract activity also receded, as 12 percent fewer contracts were signed versus Fourth Quarter of 2017. At the same time, fewer sales, anxious sellers, and new development launches have pushed inventory higher. The number of available apartment listings during the Fourth Quarter of 2018 was nearly 7,000 units, a seven-year high.
As some sellers relaxed their expectations amid cooling demand, the median price dipped 2 percent in the final quarter of 2018 to $1.075M. Market-wide, median price and price per square foot are below their peak and back to 2015 figures. Nevertheless, the average price rose 2 percent to $2.010M largely due to the start of closings at 220 Central Park South and 520 Park. While the year-over-year changes were minimal, these figures were down 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively, versus their peaks reached in 2017.