$5 million-plus co-op market strong in 2011, condo market weak

By Zachary Kussin | March 23, 2012 04:00PM

The market was hot for Manhattan co-ops with prices over $5 million last year, according to a new report from Stribling & Associates, with prices and volume of sales increasing.

“Co-ops fared very well because the sellers reduced their prices,” said Kirk Henckels, executive vice president and director of Stribling Private Brokerage. “They got very real regarding bringing their prices back down from the peak of the market.”

The total number of $5 million-plus co-op transactions last year came to $1.4 billion, a 23.2 percent increase from 2010, the April 2011 Luxury Residential Report issued by Stribling indicates. The average sales price went up, increasing 3.4 percent to roughly $9.7 million in 2010. And the number of sales rose 19.2 percent to 143 from 2010. The highest price paid for a co-op last year was the $36 million sale at 834 Fifth Avenue. Billionaire Leslie Wexner, who founded Victoria’s Secret parent company Limited Brands, sold the duplex to developer Larry Heyman.

Townhouses priced above $5 million didn’t see as much positivity year-over year. The average sales price of a townhouse above the $5 million mark increased 2 percent to $10.4 million in 2011 from $10.2 million the year prior. But there was a 0.9 percent decrease in total sales, to roughly $840 million from $847 million.

However, Henckels said, the number of townhouse contract signings was “strong” in the first quarter of this year.

Condominiums didn’t fare that well last year. The total number of condo sales declined by 15.6 percent to $2.5 billion in 2011 from 2010 and the average sale price declined nearly 15 percent to $7.8 million in 2011.

Henckels attributed the weakness in the condo market to a lack of inventory.

“[It] has to do with the fact that the last two years, there’s been very little new condo product,” he said.

The report says the condo data is negative because the dearth of condos post-financial crash of 2008 left little to sell in 2011.

Despite the condo market’s poor performance last year, Henckels said he thinks the market is headed in a good direction. Despite the European debt crisis and domestic municipal debt, he said, the market is gaining ground.

“We’re headed into a balanced market,” he said, “as long as the world doesn’t fall apart.”