Uncertainty Freezes Hotel Sales in Manhattan

Hotel sales in the Big Apple had crashed to a halt even before coronavirus took a bite out of people’s travel plans and disrupted conventions and major events.

Even before the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) began spreading in New York City area, buyers and sellers of hotel properties had a hard time agreeing on prices. For example, no deals closed to buy or sell hotels in New York City’s borough of Manhattan in November, December and January, according to Real Capital Analytics, based in New York City.

“Three months of no transactions is a rare event in Manhattan,” says Jim Costello, senior vice president for RCA.

New York City has been one of the strongest markets for hotel rooms in the U.S. But developers finally opened enough new hotel rooms in 2019 to reduce the occupancy rate. The outlook for 2020 was uncertain. Developers planned to open even more new rooms with New York’s economy projecting continued growth. The outlook became uncertain in early March. As coronavirus spread across the U.S., major companies cut back on travel and event planners and conference organizers cancelled a growing list of public events. It’s taking a bite out of the hospitality sector already.

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