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New Yorkers hold onto their homes during COVID shutdown

New Yorkers are holding on to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new survey from StreetEasy shows only 717 new homes came on the market in April, an 85 percent decline from 2019.

“Most New Yorkers who don’t absolutely need to buy or sell right now simply aren’t doing so,” said StreetEasy Economist Nancy Wu. “The massive drop in inventory shows us that the majority of would-be sellers can wait, and are opting to do so to avoid any pressure to make price cuts.”


April is typically the most popular month for sellers to list their homes on the New York City market, with 5,095 added in the month last year.

However, as the pandemic hit New York City, many would-be home sellers avoided the market altogether, likely opting to wait for buyer demand to return.

The drop of more than 4,300 homes from 2019’s new inventory level also translated to a sharp drop in the share of price cuts being offered by sellers. In Manhattan, only 2.1 percent of homes for sale had a price cut in April – a drop of 12.2 percentage points from last year, and a record low for the borough.

However, the 2.1 percent of sellers that were making price cuts in April were determined to make a sale. The median price cut in Manhattan was a record high 5.9 percent off the asking price, or a median of $100,241. The highest median price cut previously observed in Manhattan was 5.4 percent, in January 2016.

Driven sellers were also taking steps to make their homes stand out in this uncertain time. In April, 132 percent more listings included a walkthrough video or a 3D Home tour compared to March, showing that sellers are working to adapt to the stay-at-home order and public health protocols.

“There are still highly motivated sellers on the market right now,” said Wu. “Those that bought a new home just prior to the pandemic, or need to move for employment opportunities or growing families, are doing whatever they can to get their existing homes off the market – including offering higher discounts.”

April 2020 Key Findings — Manhattan

Manhattan prices continued to drop in April, a trend that has been occurring for the past three years. The StreetEasy Manhattan Price Index[ii] fell 2.7%, to $1,075,366. In Upper Manhattan[iii], the borough’s least-expensive submarket, prices rose 5.0% to $656,383 — the only increase seen across the borough. The StreetEasy Manhattan Rent Index[iv], which is based on prices of repeat rental units in NYC, increased to $3,308, up 2.5% from last year, which was the slowest pace of growth seen in 2020 thus far. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the rentals market was coping with major disruptions in April, and it’s possible that we may see rent price growth continue to slow.

 April 2020 Key Findings — Brooklyn

Prices in Brooklyn fell at the fastest pace since August 2019, with the StreetEasy Brooklyn Price Index down 1.8% to $689,989. New sales inventory in the borough hit the lowest level in seven years, with 247 homes coming onto the market. Rents continued to climb, as they did before the coronavirus pandemic. In April, the StreetEasy Brooklyn Rent Index hit a record high $2,755 — up 4.8% from last year.

April 2020 Key Findings — Queens

Borough-wide, prices in Queens stayed flat at $510,345. Prices rose 3.0% to $791,203 in Northwest Queens[v], the borough’s most expensive submarket, but at the slowest pace of 2020 thus far. New inventory fell 82.3% in the borough — with just 156 homes listed on the market in April — following the citywide trend. The StreetEasy Queens Rent Index increased to $2,209, up 3.2% from last year.

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