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Buyers who bet on NYC's comeback can score a discount in Midtown

Apartments in Downtown Manhattan are seeing some demand while Midtown listings saw price cuts of 11 to 12 percent in November.

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Demand for Manhattan apartments has plunged during the pandemic but some areas are seeing more activity than others. If you're looking to score a Covid discount and buy in Manhattan, it pays to know which areas to avoid and which to check out.

According to the latest Manhattan real estate report from UrbanDigs, apartments in Downtown Manhattan and on the Upper West Side are seeing higher demand—and the biggest price cuts are in Midtown.

That makes sense—NYC’s so-called ghost town has been hit hard by the near absence of office workers and tourists, leaving the streets very quiet, and triggering store closures. Many major retail chains and independently owned stores closed their locations here for good in 2020. Buyers here will be placing their bets on NYC's comeback.

Buyers should also check out Upper Manhattan and the Upper East Side—along with Midtown, these three areas show price drops of at least 10 percent according to an UrbanDigs analysis of price cuts since January 2019. And in November, Midtown saw price cuts of about 11-12 percent. (That's in line with a StreetEasy report that found that 83.3 percent of listings in Midtown sold below asking during the pandemic, with an average median discount of 12.4 percent.)

The report, which covers November 27th through December 3rd, looks at both sales and rental activity. It found that there was an increase in new sales listings after Thanksgiving, but that an overall downward trend continues. The number of contracts signed for the week, 186, was the same as the previous week.

“The increasing number of contracts signed and listings removed, along with the decreasing number of new listings heading into December suggests sales momentum may last longer than expected,” says John Walkup, COO and author of the report.

There was an increase in new rental listings for Manhattan, but an overall downward trend is in effect here too. The week saw a sharp increase in new leases, 740, compared to 578 the previous week—which was quiet because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In general, landlords continue to grapple with too many listings and not enough renters.

“The current imbalance between supply and demand is forcing landlords to lower prices and offer greater incentives, giving renters a strong hand. Meanwhile, landlords are beginning to focus on managing supply for 2021’s post-vaccine demand,” Walkup writes. Until then “rental activity will likely remain erratic.”