In Riveting Reversal, Manhattan Tallies Record Year For Real Estate

Following a steep decline in 2020, Corcoran President and CEO Pamela Liebman called 2021 a “monumental comeback” as many brokerages saw record quarters and years.

The fourth quarter of 2021 rounded out a banner year for Manhattan real estate, according to quarterly reports released by area brokerages during the first week of 2022.

For those New York-based brokerages, the results translated into record quarters and record years.

Pamela Liebman | Photo credit: Corcoran

“In what can only be described as a monumental comeback, Manhattan is experiencing one of the greatest real estate markets ever,” Pamela Liebman, Corcoran president and CEO, said in The Corcoran Group’s fourth quarter report. “With $30 billion in sales volume and over 16,000 contracts signed, it’s not a surprise to anyone that 2021 was the best year ever for Manhattan real estate.”

For Manhattan, the fourth quarter was one of the strongest on record. The borough saw a 47 percent annual increase in contracts signed, an 89 percent increase in closings and $8 billion in sales volume.

Over the course of the entire year, the borough saw the most closings since 2008, and resale condos and luxury sales over $5 million exceeded a previous record from 2013.

Meanwhile, a total of $30 billion in sales volume for the year exceeded a previous all-time high from 2007 by 6 percent.

Manhattan’s inventory dwindled amidst the surge in demand, hitting its lowest level since 2016. Active listings were down 37 percent year over year to about 6,300 units as of mid-December.

Frederick Warburg Peters | Photo credit: Warburg Realty

Following an extended period of price declines, Manhattan prices are now rising with the rest of the country’s amidst high demand and low inventory. According to Corcoran, market-wide prices increased between 5 to 9 percent during the fourth quarter and the median price equalled a high of $1.2 million last seen during the second quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, a fourth quarter report released this week by Coldwell Banker Warburg showed the luxury and ultra-luxury sectors of the Manhattan market thrived during 2021. “While sales have been robust throughout the market, the luxury and ultra-luxury markets have been unusually strong,” Frederick Warburg Peters, CEO of Coldwell Banker Warburg, wrote in the brokerage’s report.

Peters pointed to a number of co-op sales exceeding $40 million, as well as notable sales at the popular condo building 220 Central Park South, among other high-end sales across the West Village, Tribeca, and the Upper East and West Sides.

Inventory has been reduced to one of its lowest points in years, the brokerage’s report noted, yielding higher prices that will probably continue through 2022.

Bess Freedman | Photo credit: BHS

Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman also said in Brown Harris Stevens’ fourth quarter report that resale condos saw stronger price gains over the course of the year compared to co-ops, with the average condo price rising 16 percent year over year to $2,397,189. Comparatively, the average resale co-op price was just up 5 percent year over year to $1,258,615.

Peters said that moving deeper into the new year, mortgage rates and regulations will also impact Manhattan buyers, with recent changes made to the SALT (state and local tax) deduction and the graduated mansion tax. “Uncertainty remains as to whether the city will seek new ways to monetize real estate transactions to fill its depleted coffers,” Peters wrote.

Uncertainty about 2022 aside, the brokerages had much to celebrate, as far as success in 2021 goes.

“Once again, those pundits who predicted the demise of the city turned out to be wrong, as 2021 developed into one of the most robust sales and rental years within memory,” Peters wrote.

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated Manhattan contracts, closings and sales volume for the year were specific to The Corcoran Group, but on the contrary, these figures reflected numbers across the entire Manhattan real estate market.

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