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More than half of Manhattan condo sales this year were all-cash deals

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Tracking the all-cash sales in Manhattan, both in 2016 and year-over-year

This week, real estate appraiser, Curbed graph guru, blogger, and Housing Notes newsletter writer Jonathan Miller looks at the number of all-cash sales in Manhattan across various price points and property types.

Since Manhattan has been so humid this week, I thought I’d cut through the haze and explore the market in a cool way (sorry) by breaking down the number of all-cash sales, or ones where a buyer doesn’t obtain a mortgage for the purchase. I’ve presented the results in two charts.

The first chart breaks down the number of cash sales from January through July 2016, looking at both price point and property type, with hard numbers in a table below it. Unsurprisingly, 35 percent of co-op sales are all-cash; the number of condo sales is even higher at 56.5 percent, given the higher cost of condos in general. I was somewhat surprised that townhouses asking more than $5 million, which account for more than half of all sales for that particular property type, saw 91.7 percent of cash sales.

The second chart, meanwhile, looks at the year-over-year change in cash sales (from 2015 to 2016), broken down by property type, to see were the reliance on cash has changed. What was actually surprising is that the use of cash fell slightly across the board by segment as credit eases nominally. The outlier was located in the $3 million to $5 million market, just below the cutoff where the market has weakened sharply. The drop in cash use was significant in the $2 to $3 million segment, where lenders seem to be especially comfortable, allowing the use of financing to expand.

The easing of mortgage lending restrictions is a good thing for Manhattan housing despite representing only a little more than half of all sales; tight credit has been one of the key reasons we are in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. This slip in the use of cash suggests that credit is improving slightly, a trend that will hopefully continue over the next several years. There is a long way to go before we see more rational lending standards, but housing in NYC won’t truly normalize until credit conditions return to sanity and cash is not necessarily king.