Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
BY CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN
Newsday Staff Writer
Manhattan apartments got pricier in the past year, but the steepness of the rise is debatable, based on reports issued yesterday by three real estate firms.
The median price of a Manhattan apartment rose 5.1 percent to $799,000 between the fourth quarter of 2005 and fourth-quarter 2006, said Prudential Douglas Elliman. Median means that half the units cost less than that price and half cost more.
The Corcoran Group found a steeper price rise, with the median sale price of an apartment up 11 percent to $799,000. Halstead Property said the median climbed 9 percent to $760,000.
Halstead's chief economist, Gregory Heym, said several factors have buoyed the market, including declining mortgage interest rates, a strong economy and Wall Street bonuses, which are expected to total $23.9 billion this year. Since 2002, those bonuses have more than doubled, Heym said. "So it clearly helps us on the demand side."
He also said the sale of new units in the downtown market bodes well for prices because they tend to sell for more than existing apartments.
Inventories have remained flat in the past year. The number of apartments listed in the fourth quarter inched down 0.5 percent compared with a year ago, to 5,934 units, Prudential said.
"Inventory today is virtually at the same level as inventory seen in the prior year," said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a Manhattan real estate appraisal firm and the author of Prudential's report. "That is the by-product of sales activity increasing."
The other firms didn't provide inventory statistics.
The number of days it took to sell an apartment, another indicator of a market's vibrancy, could suggest a slowing market. It took an average 97 days in the fourth quarter, up from 84 days a year ago, to sell an apartment, said Halstead, a sister company of the real estate firm Brown Harris Stevens.
Prudential Douglas Elliman found that it took even longer to sell an apartment in the fourth quarter: an average 149 days versus 137 days last year.
But at least one real estate expert sees that as no cause for alarm. "I don't feel that a week and a half or two [longer] is any big deal," said Dottie Herman, Prudential's chief executive.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007