Manhattan’s apartment resales pick up speed as sellers face market reality

Resale deals jumped nearly 8 percent year-over-year: report

TRD New York /
Apr.April 04, 2017 07:00 AM

From bottom right: 264 Water Street Apt 6C, 70 East 10th Street Apt 3R, 353 Central Park West FL 16, 50 West 96th Street 12CD

After remaining flat for a year-and-a-half, the number of Manhattan apartment resales jumped in the first quarter of 2017.

The number of closed sales of resale condominiums and co-ops hit 2,429 in the first three months of the year, a 7.7 percent increase year-over-year, according to a new quarterly report from Douglas Elliman.

Resales made up 84 percent of the Manhattan market in the first quarter of the year. Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report, said the uptick in closed resales indicates the market is beginning to stabilize and sellers are becoming more negotiable.

“We’re seeing inventory slowly rise. We’re seeing bidding wars decline. We’re seeing pricing move sideways,” Miller said. “[These are] all the elements of a stabilizing market after resetting from a couple a years ago when there was a lot more euphoria.”

Overall, the median apartment sale price in the first quarter was $1.1 million, a 3 percent decline from last year. The new development median price in the quarter was $2.7 million, a 5 percent increase from last year. The resale median price was $950,000 — which is unchanged from last year. For condos, the median price fell nearly 11 percent from last year to $1.6 million, while the median price of a co-op was $775,000, the same as 2016. For the luxury market — the top 10 percent of all apartment sales — the median price was $6.9 million, a 5 percent increase year-over-year.

The number of days on the market, however, jumped 16 percent to hit 108. Bidding wars comprised nearly 13 percent of the market — the same as last quarter, but down from nearly 16 percent a year ago.

Miller said the figures reflect buyers’ inclination to invest, now that the presidential election has passed and interest rates are rising. In recent weeks, several brokerages have reported a jump in luxury contracts through the first few months of the year. Despite this surge, every part of the market saw an increase in listing discounts.

“Sellers are meeting buyers on price,” said Miller.

Other brokerages’ first-quarter reports also point to an increase in buyer activity. Compass found contracts signed in the first quarter jumped 16 percent to hit 2,392. Corcoran’s report showed contracts signed jumped 3 percent compared to 2016.

Regardless of the widespread listing discounts, a jump in sales is a positive for the market, according to Miller.

“Transaction volume is probably the most important part of the housing market, much more than price,” he said.

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