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How much will NYC buyers pay for a home office, privacy, or other Covid-era amenities?

This condo, 29 Lexington Ave., #1A, in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, has a separate structure that can be used as a home office.

Douglas Elliman/StreetEasy

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The coronavirus pandemic changed what many buyers are now looking for in a New York City apartment. Instead of large, full-service buildings with lots of shared amenities, brokers tell Brick Underground the buzzwords in the Covid era are “privacy,” “home office,” and “outdoor space.”

A new report attempts to quantify how much buyers are willing to spend for those preferences. UrbanDigs, a Manhattan real estate analytics platform, looked at the more popular listing terms and tracked the median sales price for closed sales as well as the discount off the original asking price for apartments with those descriptions over the past year.

Tracking buzzwords is another way of slicing and dicing real estate data, says John Walkup, COO of UrbanDigs and author of the report.

“One of the biggest questions in NYC real estate right now is: What are buyers actually purchasing? While we can get an idea by digging into various constituent segments such as price, property type, bed count, building age, etc, we still don’t know the specifics. What features are buyers after exactly?” he says.

Working from home these days requires a separate space for video calls, and has boosted demand for apartments with a home office.

“Units offering a home office saw a doubling of their median price and a quick decrease in listing discount as the markets reopened,” Walkup writes. The median sales price for apartments with home offices in April 2019 was $5,513,720; in May 2020 it was $6,750,000.

Apartments that offer some form of privacy—either a separate or ground-floor entrance, are also highly desirable in the Covid era. The report found the median sale price for apartments with this description nearly doubled from $1,580,000 in April 2019 to $2,900,000 in July 2020.

Outdoor space is another in-demand listing phrase the report examines. Buyers who prize this have been heading to the suburbs, Walkup notes, so it’s interesting that the median price for apartments with outdoor space is on an upward and volatile trajectory. The median sales price for Manhattan apartments with outdoor space in April 2019 was $1,133,750. In August 2020, it was $2,605,202.

The report also looked at terms that now have negative connotations, such as cozy. The median price of apartments with this description in April 2019 was $942,500. In June 2020 it was $725,000.

“Cozy typically means small, and it’s no surprise that as people have been stuck in their apartments for a long stretch of time due to the pandemic, the median price for units described as ‘cozy’ remained under pressure while the listing discounts spiked up,” Walkup says.

Traditional buzzwords like estate condition are still associated with apartments that are in demand, however the report finds that the discount off the original asking price for fixer uppers increased to more than 15 percent.

Apartments described as mint condition also saw a spike in median sales price and an increase in listing discount. “The increase in listing discount also may have to do with the generally higher price point of fully renovated units,’ Walkup writes.