Diane M. Ramirez
Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times; Tina Fineberg for The New York Times
Sales at 15 Central Park West, top, and at the Plaza Hotel have driven up prices.
By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY
As the housing market across the country continued to stagnate in the fourth quarter of last year, the market in Manhattan set a record, according to reports to be released on Thursday by four of the city’s major real estate brokerage firms.
The average price for an apartment reached $1.4 million in the last quarter of 2007, up 17.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006, according to data tracked by the brokerage firm Prudential Douglas Elliman.
The reports noted, however, that average prices were being pushed to record levels because of the increasing number of apartments selling at the top end of the market, above $10 million.
Many other indicators also showed that the Manhattan sales market remained strong: the number of apartment sales jumped by 3.2 percent, compared with the same time period the year before; apartments sold an average of 18 days faster than they did a year ago; and the inventory of apartments for sale shrunk by 13.5 percent.
“Every single indicator that we tracked showed a gain,” said Jonathan Miller, the executive vice president and director of research of Radar Logic, who prepared the data for Prudential Douglas Elliman.
The record prices can be credited largely to Manhattan’s wealthiest buyers. The number of apartments that sold for more than $10 million tripled in the past year, according to data tracked by two other brokerages, Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property. Many of these deals were at 15 Central Park West and at the Plaza, two buildings in which 94 of the 1,342 condos sold in Manhattan in the fourth quarter are located.
Gregory J. Heym, an economist who prepared the reports for Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens, said that sales at those two buildings helped drive up average condo prices by $500,000.
Mr. Miller said that he had not seen the luxury market drive Manhattan real estate prices so profoundly since 2000, when buyers poured wealth from the dot-com boom into high-end apartments.
That is not to say that these high-end transactions will shield Manhattan real estate from a slowdown in 2008.
Real estate brokers predict that sales prices may not keep up this pace through 2008 because more buyers could have trouble taking out large mortgages and some Wall Street bankers may receive smaller cash bonuses.
“I’m not forecasting high appreciation,” said Dottie Herman, the president of Prudential Douglas Elliman. “I’m forecasting that the market will be flat” in 2008.
Co-ops, which typically cost less than condominiums, are clearly lagging behind condos in terms of financial performance. According to the Prudential Douglas Elliman report, the average condo price jumped by 17.8 percent in the last quarter of 2007 over the same period a year earlier, the average co-op price rose by 9.1 percent. Mr. Miller said that the inventory of co-ops for sale dropped by 26.2 percent, at least in part because some sellers took their co-ops off the market, hoping to try again in the spring.
Still, real estate brokers and economists point out that the overall market has performed just as well as the luxury market. In fact, half of the sales in Manhattan involved apartments that sold for less than $828,0000, according to data tracked by Halstead Property and Brown Harris Stevens.
“The marketplace is not being held afloat by just the high end,” said Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead Property. “We have great demand across the board.”
Buyers paid high prices for apartments in Harlem, where condos drove up average prices by 93 percent, to $895,000, , largely because of new construction. Apartments at the new condominium building at 111 Central Park North, which accounted for 21 of the 108 sales in Harlem, sold for an average of $2.2 million.
Some outlying neighborhoods in Manhattan, however, are already experiencing a minor slowdown. The median sales price for apartments in Inwood dropped by 4 percent, to $299,000, in the past year and by 5 percent, to $412,500, in Hudson Heights, according to Halstead Property.
Barak Dunayer, president of Barak Realty, said that prices were definitely flat in those neighborhoods and that fewer owners there were putting their apartments up for sale.
While Brooklyn co-ops and condos sold for an average of $661,000, compared with $613,000 at the same time the year before, some segments of the market experienced a slowdown, according to data tracked by the Corcoran Group. Median prices on two-bedroom Park Slope apartments dropped by 4 percent, to $637,000. Median prices for two-bedroom apartments in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill dropped by as much as 14 percent, to $462,000.
Pamela Liebman, president of the Corcoran Group, which also studied Manhattan figures, attributed the price drops to fewer closings for apartments in high-priced new buildings. She said that Brooklyn over all has settled into a stable rhythm because it was not experiencing the drastic price jumps of recent years.
“Brooklyn showed its maturity this year because the appreciation was much more steady,” she said.
Thursday, January 03, 2008