- Sales activity continued to strengthen in NYC, with July 2020 up 40% M-o-M and down only 33% Y-o-Y
- Weekly sales surpassed 500 transactions for first time in 15 weeks, monthly sales top 2,000 for first time in four months
- Queens median sale price marks first Y-o-Y drop, down 10% in July
- At $1.065 million, Manhattan YTD median slides 15% below 2019 figures
- The Bronx has highest price growth with July median up 7% Y-o-Y
- Brooklyn median drops 9% Y-o-Y, virtually erasing year-to-date gains
After a tumultuous first half of the year, all of the state of New York is now in Phase Four of reopening, which means the performance of the residential market performance is of heightened interest. The year actually started off well, promising increased sales activity — until projections and expectations were shattered by the uncertainty and upheaval of March. It was followed by an April marked by historical lows in sales activity and the strongest pricing trends of 2020 up to that point.
However, as the curve flattened and the general public started readjusting to the new normal, the state’s gradual reopening brought a tentative return of transactional activity in May. Then, June presented a whole new picture with strengthening sales trends and the first significant year-over-year (Y-o-Y) price drop, despite recording the highest median sale price this year at $717,733.
July, however, posted the sharpest decrease of the four boroughs’ median sale price, and also marked the strongest month of sales since March.
Transactional activity, of course, has trended negative since the beginning of the crisis. March kicked off with sales activity 15% higher than the same period last year, only to see it drop 36% Y-o-Y by month’s end. Later, sales activity bottomed out in April — its 1,549 deals equated to a 61% Y-o-Y drop. And, while May’s 1,337 recorded sales were certainly a drop in sheer numbers compared to April, they also represented a decrease of only 52% Y-o-Y, promising a tentative return of transactional activity.
In June, sales trends strengthened even further and, at this point, the monthly sales activity was the highest since the beginning of the crisis in March. Specifically, there were 1,670 residential sales for the month, coming in just 41% lower Y-o-Y. However, it must be noted that June 2020 figures were skewed beyond just the pandemic’s effects – sales activity and the median sale price surged artificially in June 2019 as buyers and sellers rushed to close deals before the new mansion tax went into effect in July 2019.
Similarly, July marked only one week with fewer than 400 sales. What’s more, two weeks of the month surpassed 500 transactions — a level of transactional activity not seen since late March. In fact, the second week of the month totaled 562 sales, just four deals shy of equaling the last week of March.
What’s more, the third week of July recorded a 23% Y-o-Y drop — the smallest rate of contraction in sales activity since the third week of March. All in all, July’s sales activity was the most dynamic in the last four months, closing a total of 2,343 deals across the four boroughs for a drop of just 33% Y-o-Y. Moreover, compared to June, sales activity experienced a month-over-month surge of 40%.
While pricing trends remained firmly positive at the beginning of the crisis and the NYC median sale price remained steadily above the same period last year, that trend started shifting in June and reversed completely in July.
Specifically, both March and April boasted a 5% Y-o-Y price expansion. Moreover, each week in March also posted a median sale price higher than the same period in 2019 — a trend that remained steady throughout April. Overall, May kept up with that trend, as well, and closed with a median sale price of $705,000 for a 4% gain over May 2019.
Along the same lines, June 2020 kicked off with the strongest pricing trends so far this year. The NYC the median sale price was $743,000 in its first week, which pushed the month’s overall median to $717,700. This also made June 2020 the most expensive month YTD, even as it closed with a 2% Y-o-Y drop in its median, which was influenced, once again, by the artificially inflated pricing in June 2019.
July, however, presented a whole new picture. While the $780,000 median of July 2019 also reflected the pre-mansion tax sales frenzy that had occurred in the upper end of the market, this was not the sole cause of the 13% Y-o-Y drop that was recorded in July 2020. Rather, at $680,000, July 2020 featured the lowest median sale price since March, bringing down the YTD median for the four boroughs.
So, while the elevated pricing trends of Q2 resulted in a H1 median sale price of $690,000 and a 3% gain over H1 2019, the contrary pricing trends of July almost completely erased that. In particular, July 2019’s artificially inflated median — paired with a July 2020 that was more in line with pre-pandemic figures — brought the YTD median sale price in NYC to $687,419, representing a negligible .35% Y-o-Y gain.
At the same time, year-to-date sales activity stood at 16,559 transactions, down 26% compared to the same timeframe last year. As a result, July’s recovering sales activity also decreased the YTD sales activity by only 1% Y-o-Y.
Manhattan was the hardest hit residential market in the city in the first half of the year. Here, sales activity was down 31% Y-o-Y and the median sale price dropped 13%. Specifically, the first half of 2019 totaled 5,487 residential sales for a median sale price of $1.2 million, while H1 2020 recorded 3,775 sales for a $1.05 million median. While pricing trends remained firmly positive in the other three boroughs throughout Q2, for Manhattan, that was the exception rather than the rule.
In fact, only April saw prices increase Y-o-Y reaching a YTD high of $1.34 million — while both March and June slipped under the $1 million mark, reaching $950,000 and $966,000, respectively. June’s median also resulted in a Y-o-Y price contraction of 37% — due, in part, to the rush to close high-end deals prior to the mansion tax during the year prior. From a sales activity perspective, July’s 633 sales made for Manhattan’s strongest month since the beginning of the crisis. That figure represented a 36% Y-o-Y drop in sales — the least-drastic decrease since March.
At the same time, the median sale price for NYC’s most expensive borough came in at $1.15 million, down 26% Y-o-Y. But, it must be noted that of all the boroughs, Manhattan’s year-ago metrics were the most influenced by the spike in sales of higher-priced assets prior to the mansion tax, pushing July 2019’s median to $1.56 million. Additionally, Manhattan was the only borough to record M-o-M price growth in July, gaining 19% for a $1.15 million median in July.
On the other hand, Queens seemed to navigate the crisis in the calmest manner, all things considered. Its sales activity was down 22% Y-o-Y in the first half 2020, but its median sale price went up 10%, for the highest price increase across the four boroughs. In fact, although sales activity growth in the borough bottomed out at a negative 58% in April, the median sale price jumped 19% to reach a YTD high of $630,000, followed closely by June’s $619,000.
July, however, reversed the upward trend in price growth observed in the first half of the year, becoming the first month in 2020 so far with negative price growth Y-o-Y. More precisely, at $576,500, Queens’ July median sale price was 10% below July 2019 — which, at $640,000, was 2019’s most expensive month up until that point. As a result, July 2020’s median was more in line with early 2020 pricing trends as opposed to the elevated medians recorded in Q2 and brought the borough’s YTD median to $584,500
Sales activity, however, strengthened in July, reaching 855 transactions and making this Queens’ most active month since March. In particular, July sales were down 28% Y-o-Y, resulting in the lowest rate of contraction in four months. Meanwhile, sales were up 55% compared to June — a promising sign in what is usually the most active borough for residential sales. Overall, that brought Queens’ YTD sales activity to 5,992 deals — 23% lower than the same period last year.
In the meantime, Bronx sales activity remained in negative growth territory Y-o-Y, coming in 22% below July 2019 for the lowest Y-o-Y decrease in sales activity across the four boroughs. But, the Bronx’s 260 sales recorded in July also represented a 60% increase M-o-M. That brought the borough’s number of sales to 1,679 YTD, for a 24% decrease compared to the first seven months of 2019.
Although the Bronx closed the first half of 2020 with the lowest median sale price of the four boroughs as usual, it actually recorded the second-highest price increase. Specifically, its 8% Y-o-Y gain took its H1 median sale price from $420,000 in 2019 to $455,000 in 2020. In fact, May brought a 33% price surge to the Bronx and lifted the median sale price to a YTD high of $531,000. Likewise, although July’s median was a more modest $493,500, it was still up 7% Y-o-Y – a notable achievement considering that July was 2019’s priciest month by that point.
From a pricing perspective, Brooklyn performed somewhat weaker in the first six months of the year. Its $750,000 median sale price was just 3% higher than it was in the first half of 2019. And, while 2020 transactional activity bottomed out at only 395 sales in May, Brooklyn’s median sale price surged to a YTD high of $820,000, followed closely by June’s $799,000 median sale price.
July’s median came in at $742,500, down 9% compared to the July 2019 median of $815,000. As a result, the borough’s YTD median of $750,000 also represented a 1% increase over the same period last year.
However, Brooklyn’s YTD sales activity was down 24% compared to the same period last year, with a total of 4,480 sales recorded in the first seven months of the year. Sales activity here contracted at the least sharpest rate in H1, coming in 21% below the first half of 2019.
July sales activity, however, did not experience the same influential increase in Brooklyn as the other three boroughs. It came in 41% lower than July 2019. But, compared to June 2020, sales were up, with its 595 sales representing a 19% gain M-o-M.
For this snapshot of the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence on the NYC residential market, we considered all sales of condo, co-op, single- and two-family homes registered between January 1, 2019, and August 2, 2019, as well as January 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020. We excluded all sales below $10,000, as well as all package deals. We defined NYC as the four boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.