By Robert Frank, CNBC
Apartment contracts in Manhattan fell by more than half in July, while deals in many New York suburbs more than doubled, showing a continued flight from the city over the summer.
The number of signed contracts for co-ops and condos in Manhattan — the best real-time measure of activity — dropped 57 percent in July compared with a year ago, according to a report from realtors Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. The high end of the market is getting especially hard hit, with co-ops priced at $4 million to $10 million down over 75 percent.
As deals dry up, the number of apartments listed for sale is surging. New apartment listings jumped by 8 percent in July compared with a year ago. The number of unsold apartments is now at the highest level in almost a decade, according to Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel. At the current sales rate, there is more than a 17-month supply of apartments for sale — more than twice the typical Manhattan average of about eight months.
“The city is less of an anchor now. It’s going to take longer for the city to recover than the suburbs.”
Miller said the lockdown in the city — which prevented brokers from showing apartments until late June — combined with hundreds of thousands of affluent New Yorkers fleeing the city for the suburbs during the coronavirus pandemic made for a tough July, and potentially the summer.
Suburbs around New York had a banner July, as New Yorkers purchased second homes for escape — and possibly a new primary residence. Sales contracts in the Hamptons more than doubled in July, with 267 deals. Signed contracts in Westchester County, New York, also more than doubled to 987 deals.
Connecticut has been an especially large beneficiary of New York City’s troubles. There were more than 1,200 signed contracts in July in Fairfield County, Connecticut, while Greenwich itself saw an increase of 72 percent.
“Anything within a two-hour radius of the city is as busy as it’s ever been,” said Scott Durkin, president and chief operating officer of Douglas Elliman. “There’s just this fear of density right now.”