It didn't exactly come out of nowhere, but when the Manhattan condo market experienced an absolutely boffo week back in the middle of February, real estate watchers took notice. (Us included) As regular readers of the New Construction Manhattan blog know well, we've spent the last few months watching the marketplace for NYC condos bloom back into health, then slip into sudden frailty, and then return the next week (or month, or quarter) to its previous 10-feet-tall-and-bulletproof status. But while the Manhattan condo market is inarguably improving, it also had a long comeback ahead of it given the dark days of 2009 and 2010 -- well, dark for sellers: it was something of a buyer's market if you were searching for NYC condos. So while recent months have shown steady improvement, it has been hard to totally believe the good news about NYC condos. "Even the most Pollyanna-ish real estate watchers usually added a mouthful of caveats to any declaration of victory," Sarah Kershaw writes in the New York Times. We certainly did. But as February's NYC condo sales stats continue to filter in, it's getting harder not to believe that the market for high-end Manhattan condo listings is all the way back.
"Now the least Pollyanna-ish real estate watchers are looking at a February surge in contracts signed on properties listed for more than $4 million as quite something," Kershaw continues. "That is because 70 of the listings went into contract last month, the highest number of any month going back to January 2007, well before the housing crisis crushed the high-end market." These are numbers that it's difficult to argue with. And you know what? We won't.
And not just because we'd like nothing more than to see people buying $2 million dollar NYC condos -- $3 million Manhattan condos or $5 million Manhattan condos -- either. There is that, but it makes sense that high-end Manhattan condominiums are moving well. Bonuses are back for NYC's wealthiest, and whatever fear of public disapproval once kept them from spending those bonuses seems to have receded in turn. Whether this is good or bad for our society or New York City or anything else is a conversation for another blog. But while the Manhattan condominium marketplace has other issues to deal with -- there is that looming NYC condo inventory issue, still -- it just sort of seems like time for the Manhattan condominium market to get back to firing on all cylinders. Next month's stats could undo all this, of course. But trends suggest this is for real -- which means, alas, that prices on Manhattan condos are probably due for a jump, but also that things in Manhattan real estate may, belatedly, be getting back to normal.