More than two-thirds of Manhattan deals in the fourth quarter were all cash

  • The record-breaking surge reflects weak demand from buyers who require financing
By Jennifer White Karp  |
January 3, 2024 - 9:00AM
Midtown Manhattan buildings

Manhattan’s median sales price rose annually for the first time in five quarters to $1,156,391, making this the second-highest fourth quarter on record, according to the Elliman Report.


All-cash transactions represented an astonishingly large percentage of Manhattan deals in the fourth quarter, reflecting the impact of still-high mortgage rates.

They accounted for 67.9 percent of total Manhattan sales, an all-time record, according to the latest edition of the Elliman Report. That’s up significantly from the third quarter, when all-cash deals were 56.7 percent of transactions, the third-highest in history.

Cash deals usually represent about 50 percent of all transactions in Manhattan, according to Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report. Last year, they broke through that threshold as a result of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, which made borrowing more expensive.

Deals relying on financing fell 32 percent last year, while the number of cash transactions were up 17.6 percent, Miller says. (Many buyers who pay all cash upfront typically plan to refinance later.)

Prices rose as deals fell

Manhattan’s median sales price rose annually for the first time in five quarters to $1,156,391, making this the second-highest fourth quarter on record, according to the Elliman Report.

The number of transactions fell—but not as steeply as previous quarters. Sales were down 15.7 percent compared to the third quarter and 5.5 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.

Listings fell year over year for the third, consecutive quarter—they were down 11.7 percent compared to the third quarter and 1.7 percent for the year, the Elliman Report found.

Some mortgage rate relief

Buyers who need financing got some relatively good news about mortgage rates, but it came late in the quarter.

By mid-December, when the Fed held interest rates steady for the third time, it also signaled that it planned three interest rate cuts for this year, a response to inflation easing from record highs. That same week, interest rates for 30-year, fixed mortgages dropped below 7 percent for the first time since August, which was encouraging news for buyers.

The quarterly snapshot of closed sales doesn’t reflect a new momentum in deals as a result, but the mortgage rate dip did impact December’s new signed contracts. Co-op and condo transactions were up for only the second time since 2021, according to a separate Elliman Report on new contracts for December.

Uptick in sales of properties $4 million-plus

Coldwell Banker Warburg's fourth quarter market report highlighted the uptick in sales of properties in the $4 million-plus price range, citing data from the Olshan Report. There were 246 total deals above the luxury threshold in the fourth quarter, an increase over the third quarter, when there were 231.

These larger deals slumped during August, September, and October when the average number of sales per week from August 7th through October 30th was 16, while from November 1st through December 18th (counting Thanksgiving as a half week), it hit 21, the report says.

Luxury resales skew Manhattan’s average price

In her firm’s fourth quarter Manhattan market report, Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, notes that the average price for Manhattan apartment resales jumped in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago.

“That was due mostly to four resale condo closings over $65 million—the first time that’s ever happened in Manhattan,” Freedman notes.

Hottest neighborhoods

A fourth quarter Manhattan market report from BOND New York finds the neighborhoods with the largest increase in pending sales were Nolita, East Harlem, and Hamilton Heights and the areas with the largest decrease in pending sales were Morningside Heights/Harlem, Battery Park City, and Murray Hill.

More demand for one and two bedrooms

According to SERHANT’s fourth quarter market report for Manhattan, there was less demand for the smallest- and larger-size apartments.

“One bedrooms and two bedrooms continue to account for most of the market share, representing nearly 70 percent of closings, while studios and three bedrooms reflected 13.4 percent and 13 percent respectively, writes Coury Napier, SERHANT’s director of research.

New development median price remains flat

The median sales price for Manhattan new development in the fourth quarter was $2,025,000—essentially the same as the third quarter and 2.2 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2022, according to the Elliman Report, which also notes that listings declined year over year for the fourth consecutive quarter and sales fell year over year for the sixth time.

Co-op resales increased

Resales of co-op apartments—which make up the majority of owned-apartments in Manhattan, “saw sales rise 2 percent year over year, the first annual increase since mid-2022, says Pamela Liebman, president of Corcoran, in her firm’s fourth quarter Manhattan market report.

Sellers sat on low mortgage rates

Resales plummeted last year but the situation is expected to improve in 2024.

“Approximately 40 percent of [sellers] are locked into ultra-low mortgages, and the data indicates they are not interested in providing discounts,” notes Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, senior managing director at Compass, in her firm’s fourth quarter Manhattan market report.

“With rates starting to come down and additional decreases scheduled by the Fed, a resurgence in resale transactions in 2024 is possible, as buyers will effectively have access to additional capital,” Stribling-Kivlan says.



Jennifer White Karp

Managing Editor

Jennifer steers Brick Underground’s editorial coverage of New York City residential real estate and writes articles on market trends and strategies for buyers, sellers, and renters. Jennifer’s 15-year career in New York City real estate journalism includes stints as a writer and editor at The Real Deal and its spinoff publication, Luxury Listings NYC.

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