Manhattan home prices double since start of decade, report says

By Candace Taylor | February 02, 2011 06:38PM

Source: Prudential Douglas Elliman

The 2010 Manhattan real estate market shows marked improvement from the doldrums of 2009, with prices twice as high as a decade ago, according to 10-year apartment and townhouse market reports released today by Prudential Douglas Elliman, the city’s largest brokerage.

The median sales price of Manhattan co-ops and condominiums in 2010 was $880,000, up 3.5 percent from 2009 and 104.7 percent from 2001, according to the apartment market report. The average price, $1.46 million, rose 4.6 percent from the previous year and 87.2 percent from $778,575 a decade ago.

Sales activity has also grown. According to that report, there were 10,060 apartment sales in 2010, 35.4 percent more than 2009’s total of 7,430 — the lowest in more than a decade.

“Things are much better than last year,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, who prepared the reports for Elliman. “We gained some ground over what happened in 2009.”

But he cautioned that Manhattan isn’t out of the woods; much of the improvement is due to a release in pent-up demand following the worst of the real estate downturn, he said. Factors like high unemployment and pending foreclosures could further hinder the housing market in the months to come.

The year 2010 “reflected a catch-up or quick rebound, which was pretty impressive,” he said. “The question is: where do we go from here?”

According to the 10-year townhouse report, the median sales price of a Manhattan townhouse in 2010 was $3.85 million, up 13.2 percent from 2009 and more than 114.5 percent from $1.8 million in 2001, according to the report. The average townhouse price was $5.47 million, up 9.2 percent from the previous year and 142.7 percent from $2.3 million in 2001. There were 197 townhouse sales in 2010 — less than 2 percent of the overall Manhattan residential market — an increase of 32.2 percent from 2009.

Manhattan apartment prices are still lower than during the peak of the real estate boom in 2008, when the median sales price for an apartment hit $955,000 and the average price was $1.59 million.

Miller said prices are “generally stable” compared to last year, and attributed increases to more activity in the high-end market, which was largely dormant in 2009. To that point, he noted that the average square footage of an apartment sold in 2010 was 1,375 square feet, compared to 1,298 in 2009.

Co-ops outperformed condos in 2010, though condos remained pricier. Co-ops made up 48 percent of apartment sales last year, compared to 46 percent in 2009. The average sales price of a co-op in 2010 was $1.18 million, 14.2 percent higher than the previous year and 74.5 percent higher than $674,765 in 2001. The average sales price for a condo, meanwhile, grew less than 1 percent over 2009 to $1.71 million, and rose 67.7 percent from $1.02 million in 2001. Miller attributed these differences to the current difficulty of getting a mortgage in condos versus co-ops.

Co-ops now make up 75 percent of the for-sale housing stock in Manhattan. Due to the recent pace of building new condos, that’s dropped about 10 percent from 20 years ago, Miller said.

Upper East Side townhouses remain more expensive than those on the Upper West Side, the townhouse report shows, but homes West of Central Park have seen more dramatic price increases over the last decade. The average sales price of an Upper East Side townhouse in 2010 was $9.36 million, up 93.9 percent from $4.82 million in 2001, while houses on the Upper West Side averaged $7.1 million, up 188.6 percent from $2.46 million in 2001.