Manhattan townhouse prices hit 10-year high

The median sales price jumped to $5.3 million
By Kathryn Brenzel | February 04, 2016 08:00AM

When it comes to investing in New York City real estate, townhouses may be one of the safest bets.

The median sales price for townhouses in Manhattan broke a 10-year record in 2015, according to a sales report released Thursday by Douglas Elliman. The median sales price jumped to $5.3 million — 28 percent greater than the median in 2014, according to the report. The median in 2015 is a 94.4 percent increase from 2006’s $2.7 million.

“The market tends to be less volatile over the long run. It’s a niche market,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel and author of the Elliman report. “It’s a fixed form of housing stock. You’re really not seeing market acceptance of new construction of townhouses.”

Though among the highest-priced properties in the city, townhouses represent a small piece of the residential pie. In 2015, townhouses represented only 2.5 percent of all residential sales. Miller said that the price growth in townhouse sales can be partially attributed to the well-established trend of multi-family homes being purchased for eventual conversion into single-family homes.

The number of townhouse sales in 2015 dropped 2.7 percent from 2014, falling to 298, according to the report. Though inventory saw a 15 percent uptick, Miller said that the decline in sales is generally due to increases in price and a drop in inventory. In the past 19 years, sales have ranged from 142 to 343 each year, he said.

Condos and co-ops in 2015 saw a 5.8 percent decrease in the number of sales year over year, dropping to 11,962 sales in 2015, according to a separate report also released by Douglas Elliman. This is the second consecutive year that the number of condo and co-op sales has dropped in Manhattan. The reason, again, seems to be climbing prices and falling inventory: This past year was the first time that median sales prices exceeded $1 million.

“This is a common theme throughout the market, that sales are below a year-ago levels,” he said. “I think much of this is related to affordability.”