80% of Manhattan deals all cash? No way, says Jonathan Miller

Appraiser finds fault with RealtyTrac's recent headline-grabbing report
May 19, 2014 09:20AM

In a report issued last week that generated plenty of headlines, RealtyTrac claimed that 80 percent of Manhattan homes were bought with cash during the last three quarters of the year.

Now, well-known real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel has stepped in to the discussion, claiming the RealtyTrac figure is more than a little off.

In the first quarter of 2014, 58 percent of condo sales, 36 percent of co-op sales and 73 percent of single-family sales were all-cash deals, according to data from Miller Samuel, which compiles reports for brokerage Douglas Elliman. The blended share, therefore, would be 45 percent.

“The reason the Realtytrac 80% figure jumped out at me was the fact that co-ops account for about 60% of sales and have the highest concentration of entry level and middle class demographics in Manhattan,” Miller wrote on his blog. “I was very skeptical that virtually all the market-majority co-op buyers were paying all-cash, especially in the tepid economy we are stuck with.”

Miller contacted Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, who soon detected a problem with the co-op data feed. All-cash sales comprised nearly 61 percent of condominium sales in the first quarters, while single-family all-cash deals were about 73 percent, according to RealtyTrac data excluding the co-op numbers. [Miller Samuel]Mark Maurer