Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
Selling Isn’t Poetry
THERE was one last full-floor condominium lingering on the market in a meticulously restored and expensive prewar Park Avenue building at East 75th Street. So Elliott P. Joseph, the project’s developer, jumped on what he thought was the perfect sales sweetener: two free Lexus hybrids with the purchase.
Soon, however, Mr. Joseph sent a reporter a haiku-like text message reconsidering: “2 car idea / Still an idea / Not a reality yet.”
After meeting with his broker, Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens, and her boss, Hall F. Willkie, Mr. Joseph agreed to trim the asking price instead of offering inducements to sell the 11th-floor apartment at 823 Park Avenue.
The apartment has a 46-foot-wide living room and library (with mahogany paneling) facing Park Avenue, five bedrooms and nearly 4,200 square feet of space; the building has classical marble columns and a polished marble floor in the lobby.
Mr. Joseph agreed to lower the price by $500,000, to $14.9 million from $15.4 million.
As the peak spring selling season unfolds, owners of other co-op and condos lingering on the market have also been trimming asking prices, hoping to get ever-more-cautious buyers to give their properties a second look.
In the last 30 days, prices were cut on about 17 percent of the co-ops and condos in Manhattan, according to an analysis of listings on Streeteasy.com, a Web site that compiles information from most brokerage firms. Prices rose on around 2 percent of all Streeteasy listings. Among the most expensive properties — those listed for $10 million or more — there were fewer price changes, but price cuts outnumbered price increases by a ratio of 10 to 1.
That is one result of the cooler winds blowing through the Manhattan market, despite continuing high prices for completed co-op and condo transactions last month. Brokers say deals are being done, but they are showing apartments less often, and everyone is more cautious.
“I am having fewer showings, but more of the buyers who look at apartments are serious buyers,” said James Lansill, the senior managing director of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.
Among the price cuts listed on Streeteasy.com was one at the Dakota, at Central Park West and 72nd Street, where the price of a 10-room apartment was reduced by $1 million, to $18.5 million from $19.5 million. “As fabulous as your fantasy,” notes the listing at Warburg Realty by Craig Schiller and Meredith Specht.
At 1040 Fifth Avenue, the 17-story co-op designed by Rosario Candela at 86th Street, the asking price on an 11-room, five-bedroom apartment was cut by $3 million on May 5, to $21 million, four months after it was listed by Alina Pedroso of Brown Harris Stevens.
“Buyers are out there expecting to get good deals,” said Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist at Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property. “Some people who want to sell are more open to it.”
That isn’t evident from actual sales data from deeds and tax records filed with the city’s Finance Department. Preliminary data showed that prices rose last month, with the average sale price on a co-op or condo reaching $1.45 million, up 17 percent from a year earlier. The median price was $927,500, also up 17 percent.
At 823 Park Avenue, Mr. Joseph and his partners at the Property Markets Group thought they would be sold out by now, with total sales of about $166 million. They paid $60 million for the building, after the previous owner bought out the last of the rental tenants.
At first, the 11th-floor apartment quickly went into contract, to a couple expecting a baby, but with construction delays, Mr. Joseph returned their deposit and raised the price to $15.4 million.
Among the buyers in the building was Brendan Shanahan, the New York Rangers forward, who paid $13.4 million for the seventh floor.
Sunday, May 11, 2008