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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Highs for Manhattan Apartment Prices

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New Highs for Manhattan Apartment Prices


Wall Street bonuses, foreign buyers and a strong local economy boosted Manhattan apartment prices to new records in the second quarter despite a 14.8% drop in sales and the highest number of unsold units since 1999, according to a report released yesterday.

“It was a little surprising how well they fared this quarter,” said Jonathan Miller, author of the closely-watched Prudential Douglas Elliman Manhattan Market Over-view. “I wasn’t expecting across-the-board records being set.”

The average price per square foot rose 11.6% to record $1,083 over $970 in the second quarter of 2005, and compared to the prior quarter’s $1,004. Median sale price-halfway between high and low-rose 13.5% over a year before to $880,000,6.7% up on the prior quarter.

Average price was a record $1,386,193, up from $1,317,528 in the prior-year quarter and $1,300,928 the prior quarter.

But the frenzy of last year, when properties were snatched up be fore they were built and sellers named their price because for-sale apartments could not keep up with demand, is gone.

“We were in a boom. We’re not in a boom. We’re in a level market,” said Dottie Herman, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s CEO.

The number of sales for the quarter fell to 1,934 units from 2,271 a year before and 2,005 units in the first quarter.

Still, New York has been relatively insulated from forces battering other once hot US urban markets. It has not been as dependent on investor demand and fewer East Coast buyers have new loan products like interest-only mortgages, Herman said.

The number of apartments available rose 53.9% to a record 7,640 units from 4,965 in the prior year quarter and climbed 10.7% from the prior quarter.

The inventory of condominiums-which recently have accounted for nearly all new development in the city-soared 93.5% from last year, while the inventory of co-operative apartments rose 30.8%.

Unlike condo owners, co-op owners don’t own their properties outright but own shares in their building.

“We’re not seeing projects sell out as quickly, but we’ve seen condos, in terms of actual number of sales, outsell co-ops which is even more interesting because the housing stock is 25% condo versus 75% cp-op,” Miller said.

The number of days it took to sell an apartment, a lagging indicator, was largely unchanged on the previous quarter, up six days to 144 days. It took 42 days longer on average to sell a property compared with the same period last year.

“I’m watching it,” Herman said. “I wouldn’t want to see the inventory go up too much more.”

Buyers had more room to negotiate on price in the second quarter, though it remained limited. The listing discount rose slightly on average to 3.5% from 208% in the first quarter and 1.6% for the prior year quarter.

For co-pos, the average price per square foot rose 14.5% to a record $995 from $869 a year before. Median and average sales prices also set records.

The average price per square foot of a condo rose 5.5% to a record $1,149 from $1,089 in the prior year quarter. The median sale price also set a record, but the average fell as the market share of entry level units rose to 48% from 41%.

Average price per square foot in the luxury segment - the top10% of sale -exceeded $1,800 for the firs time. Median sale price hit$4 million for the first time, while average sale price exceeded $5 million for a second time.