Diane M. Ramirez
Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
By JENNIFER GOULD KEIL and ANDY SOLTIS
Manhattan housing prices are finally stable, but sales are down compared with the busy market of 2010, industry experts said.
The median sales price of a Manhattan home was $855,000 in the last quarter, up a paltry 1.2 percent from the same period in 2010, according to the Elliman Report, released yesterday by Prudential Douglas Elliman.
On the other hand, sales are down across the board for co-ops, condos, lofts and luxury housing.
“Buyers in all markets are price-sensitive now,” said Hall Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens, which also prepares a quarterly report.
There was a steep drop in condo sales, 1,645 in the fourth quarter, down 13 percent from a year ago, his firm’s report found.
Another indication of caution: Apartments took an average of 123 days to sell in the last quarter of 2011, compared with 113 days in the same period of 2010, according to Halstead Property’s quarterly report.
Jonathan Miller, of Miller Samuel Inc., who prepared the Elliman Report, said a major reason for flat sales prices is that the amount of available housing in Manhattan is also stable.
“The listing inventory is virtually the same as last year,” he said.
Pam Liebman, CEO of the Corcoran Group, said that’s also influencing the rate of closings.
“The slower pace of sales can be attributed to extremely lackluster inventory, which is disappointing buyers and stopping them in their tracks at all ends of the market,” she said.
“The city is crying out for new condominiums and any developer who brings quality product to market now will see good prices and a strong sales pace.”
Miller said much of the sales slowdown can be blamed on the “barrage of geopolitical, economic chaos” that home owners faced last year. That included frequent 400-point daily swings in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor’s downgrade of US government debt, and the European debt crisis.
Other industry authorities say the drop-off in home sales is simply because there were so many closings a year ago when potential buyers feared that the Bush-era tax cuts were about to expire.
“That had a huge impact,” Willkie said.
Dottie Herman, president of Prudential Douglas Elliman, said the high end of the Manhattan market is picking up — in part due to foreigners.
“There are more high-end luxury sales than in the last couple of years and more foreign buyers since the 2007 peak,” she said.
The weak dollar — and stable prices — are helping to attract foreigners, Miller said.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012