Apartment or townhouse: Which was the better investment to make in 2007?

Median sales price for condos and co-ops jumped 28% over past decade: Elliman

TRD New York /
Feb.February 02, 2017 07:30 AM

Townhouse at 8 East 62nd Street and condo at 111 Murray Street, 21B

Who’s getting the most bang for their buck: Manhattan’s townhouse investors — or those who went the apartment route?

Since 2007, townhouse prices in the borough increased significantly more than apartment prices, according to an annual decade report from Douglas Elliman. The median price of a townhouse last year was $4.9 million, compared to $3.1 million in 2007 — a jump of 59 percent. By comparison, condominiums and co-ops collectively had a median sale price of $1.1 million in 2016, an increase of 28 percent from the $860,000 median price in 2007.

While the figures look dramatic, it’s worth remembering that townhouses make up just 2.6 percent of total Manhattan residential sales.

“It’s a luxury niche market,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel and author of the report. “Whereas the apartment market is the market that’s expanding, particularly on the condo side.” Miller said the past decade was characterized by a significant uptick in new development and, up until the past year, an “insatiable demand” for high-end real estate.

The median price of a co-op last year was $771,000, a 14 percent jump from $675,000. For condos, the median sales price rose 58.5 percent between 2007 and 2016, going from just over $1 million to nearly $1.7 million in 2016. Over the past decade, the average price per square foot for apartments jumped significantly, going from $1,120 in 2007 to $1,771 in 2016.

There were 11,459 apartments sold last year, compared to 13,430 in 2007, an all-time record, according to Miller’s figures. Last year, 5,435 condos sold compared to 5150 in 2015, a jump of 5.5 percent year-over-year. However, the co-op sales numbers fell significantly, going from 6,805 to 6,024 between 2015 and 2016, a drop of 11.5 percent.

While overall sales for apartments have been drifting down since 2014, Miller said he expects the number to stabilize and potentially increase in 2017. He added the notion that rising interest rates will cool the market is an “incomplete” characterization.

For luxury townhouses, which is the upper 10 percent of all Manhattan townhouses, the median price was $19.3 million. That figure represented a 29 percent jump from $14.9 million in 2007.

For townhouses Downtown, the median sale price last year was $7.5 million, a 75 percent jump from $4.3 million in 2007. On the east side, the median price for townhouses was $8 million, a 15 percent jump from 2007. The median sale price on the west side last year was $7.1 million, a 52 percent jump from a decade ago.

Most townhouse sales occur in northern Manhattan, where the median price last year was $2.1 million, a 55 percent jump from the $1.3 million median price nearly a decade ago.

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