Feeling The Squeeze: Manhattan Inventory Crunch Sparks Bidding Wars

An inventory crunch has sparked the return of bidding wars in some parts of Manhattan (GETTY).

A seller’s market is emerging in several Manhattan neighborhoods, with inventory crunches leading to the return of bidding wars, according to a new report by real estate data firm UrbanDigs.

The report looked at the ratio of demand to supply. It found, for example, that Morningside Heights, the West Village and Little Italy each have over 1.5 times more units in contract than available.

The strong demand means buyers must compete to win deals. Agents are seeing this firsthand.

bright chic colorful living room manhattan apartment 200 East 74th Street, Apt 5H New York

This Upper East Side two-bedroom is listed for $1.895 million. The Manhattan neighborhood currently has 1.03 times more units in contract than available (WARBURG REALTY).

This spring, Mihal Gartenberg, an agent at Warburg Realty, noticed a shift in the market and increased buyer competition after she began working with a buyer looking on the Upper East Side, where there are 1.03 times more units in contract than available.

“When we finally found the apartment she wanted, a condopin a building with condo rules, she was one of three buyers to place a bid,” Gartenberg said. “Prior to that, I observed that there were so-so apartments that had multiple showings and full-ask offers after being on the market for only one day.”

Gartenberg believes they were lucky to not only land the apartment but also negotiate the price down a bit. “Buyer negotiability was dropping while we were shopping. It was a very interesting experience to observe firsthand. I truly believe that had she waited one more weekend, we either would have lost the apartment or would have had to go in at ask, or above, to get it,” she explained.

chef's kitchen inside west village townhouse manhattan 42 Jane Street nyc

West Village, where this Jane Street townhouse is located, currently has over 1.5 times more units in contract than available (WARBURG REALTY).

Broker Sheila Trichter of Warburg Realty had a similar but unsuccessful experience with a client in the West Village looking for a one- or two-bedroom condo in the $1.5 million to $2.5 million range.

“The market for that price range in West Village condos was extremely tight and while nothing there pleased my buyer, every apartment that we saw went quickly and many had experienced competitive bidding,” Trichter said. “This is often the case here because, except for the new and new-ish developments that have large and super expensive apartments, there are just not that many condo buildings in the West Village.”

 living room inside 55 Central Park West, Apt 14E, New York, NY

After relisting in the spring, this classic-six co-op listing on Central Park West received multiple offers and is currently under contract (WARBURG REALTY).

While the market in much of the country has been busy throughout the year, the spring saw a tightening in Manhattan.

“I had a classic-six co-op listing on Central Park West that went on the market in December,” said agent Robert Elson of Warburg Realty. “It got a big response early on but since it needs work it did not get any traction. Three offers significantly below ask were rejected by the seller, but then in the spring we dropped the price by 16%, and offers came in almost immediately. The contract was signed this week. Both and buyer and seller are extremely pleased.”

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I’ve been working as a journalist in the New York metro area for more than a decade and have developed a specialization in luxury real estate, writing about everything from the post-recession housing market in Fairfield County, Connecticut, to the third-home market in the Hamptons. I’m currently also a regular contributor to Newsday and Hamptons Cottages & Gardens. If you spot me in my Brooklyn neighborhood and I’m not knitting, I’m probably admiring the beautiful Victorians that surround my apartment building (and trying to figure out what they would sell for).

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