In June, a foreign buyer bought a condo on the 70th floor of the so-called Steinway Tower, built around the Steinway & Sons piano showroom that has existed since 1925, on a stretch that is now known as Billionaires' Row. The condo was marketed at $30.5m. It had three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, and the buyer had only ever seen the property through brochures and a virtual tour.


It was a rare piece of good news for New York's super-prime market, which, along with property markets across the world, struggled during the lockdown phase of the pandemi


For homes priced at $10m-$20m, transactions were down 92 per cent. Above $20m, the drop in sales was more modest, with six homes going under contract in the second quarter of 2020, down 60 per cent on the same period last year...At the same time, the discounts sellers are willing to offer have increased sharply since the pandemic. According to Garrett Derderian, head of GS Data Services, the average price drop in the second quarter of this year for homes priced above $20m was 20 per cent between the initial and final listing price -- meaning that closing prices could have even higher discount rates. In the same period last year, the average discount was 6 per cent.


In a sluggish market, unsold condos are also going to take longer to shift. Jonathan Miller, head of real-estate consultancy Miller Samuel, predicts that there will be 8,700 unsold units in new-development condos in Manhattan at the end of this year -- which, at the current pace of activity, is likely to take 8.7 years to sell, down from 6.3 years to sell at the end of 2019.

Yet there are signs that, relative to other cities globally, New York's super-prime market has been holding up comparatively well during the pandemic. Research from Knight Frank shows that New York was one of the most popular cities for buyers still making super-prime purchases during lockdown.

It reveals that 41 sales of properties worth more than $10m took place in New York in the first half of the year, 19 of those between March and June. While this was a significant dip from last year, when 100 were sold in the same period, it was still enough to put it in third place for super-prime sales globally, behind Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

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