Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
By ADAM GOLDMAN
Associated Press Writer
January 3, 2007
NEW YORK -- While the national home market languished, already expensive Manhattan became pricer still in the final quarter of last year, compared to the year before, according to two new real estate reports.
And with solid job growth in the city, a healthy economy and low interest rates, prices are unlikely to soften in 2007, said Greg Heym, who authored the reports for Manhattan real estate firms Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property.
"It looks like demand will remain pretty strong," said Heym, the chief economist for Terra Holdings, which owns both firms. He added that record Wall Street bonuses, expected to top nearly $24 billion, also should buoy the housing market.
The average price of a Manhattan apartment rose to more than $1.14 million in the fourth quarter of last year, up 5 percent compared to the same period the year before, according to the reports, released Wednesday.
The median price for the apartments was a record $760,000, beating the figure from 2005 by 9 percent, said the reports. The median, a common real-estate market measure, is the price at which half the sales are higher and half are lower.
The median price is also an important indicator of a market's stability, Heym said.
Heym, who also serves on the city's Economic Advisory Panel, said Manhattan is experiencing a more balanced market, meaning that price increases have become more sustainable _ unlike in 2004, when double-digit gains were common.
One of the biggest price surges in Manhattan took place on the Upper West Side, where four-bedroom and larger apartments cost an average of $5.7 million, or a 48 percent increase over the fourth quarter from 2005.
An average price of an apartment with three or more bedrooms on the Upper East Side was about $3.8 million, up 22 percent.
The average price per square foot in Manhattan rose to $1,050, topping $979 in the fourth quarter a year ago and setting a new high.
"The market for luxury apartments in Manhattan remains very strong, and we're continuing to see steady growth in this sector," said Hall F. Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens.
The average sale price of new condos remained relatively flat at $1.3 million, about $13,000 less compared to the same quarter in 2005. Cooperative apartments in Manhattan saw their average sale price spike 3 percent to reach $953,120.
The Halstead report showed apartments sold during the fourth quarter of 2006 spent an average of 97 days on the market, 15 percent longer than during the same period a year earlier. Sellers received 97.9 percent of their asking price, down from 99.1 percent.
Both reports were based on 2,364 reported sales.
The reports also reflect the New York market's resilience in the face of an uncertain nationwide housing market.
The nationwide median price for existing homes fell 3.1 percent in November 2006, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. November's national median price was $218,000.
However, the nationwide median price for new homes jumped nearly 6 percent, to $251,700, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007