Manhattan apartment sales highest in two years


Manhattan apartment sales were the strongest in two years, although prices at the top end continue to come under pressure.

Total sales increased 13 percent in the third quarter compared with a year ago, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants.

Yet stronger sales were driven by slightly softer prices, especially at the high end, as sellers became more realistic about prices. The average sales price fell 1.3 percent, to $2,002,835, compared to the same quarter a year ago and the average price per square foot fell 12 percent.

Discounts are more common and bidding wars have become less common.

The high-end of the market and new construction continues to face the most pressure, as the sky-high prices of 2014 and early 2015 return to reality. Prices in the luxury end, or the top 10 percent of the market, fell 8 percent compared to a year ago, to just over $8 million.

Prices for new development plunged 23 percent compared to a year ago, with the average price now $2.8 million.

Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, said the deals in the quarter were driven by sellers giving up on the overly optimistic prices.

“The sellers have become much more willing to come down to meet the buyers,” he said. “We’re seeing the age of aspirational pricing continue to fade.”

While new condos came under pricing pressure, prices for existing co-ops (the bread and butter for the Manhattan market) strengthened. The average sales price for co-ops hit $1.4 million, up 10 percent over last year, and the median price hit a new record of $850,000.

The most expensive sale in the quarter was a co-op, rather than a condo, in one of the new luxe towers. The 12,000-square-foot penthouse of the Pierre Hotel in midtown went for $44 million, down from its original asking price of $125 million. The buyer was reportedly financier Howard Lutnick.

As with the rest of the country, housing inventory in Manhattan remains low. Listing inventory was down 2 percent and there is no only a five-month supply of homes on the market.

“Inventory of resale apartments had been drifting higher after 2013, but now it’s headed in the other direction,” Miller said.

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