Stubborn sellers are putting a major damper on the Manhattan sales market

Number of deals declined for the fourth straight quarter
By Meenal Vamburkar | October 02, 2018 08:30AM

(Credit: Douglas Elliman)

Sellers who can’t part with their sky-high expectations keep slowing down apartment sales in Manhattan.

The number of residential sales in the third quarter dipped 11.3 percent over the same period last year, according to Douglas Elliman’s latest market report. That’s the fourth consecutive quarter of declines.

“There’s movement, but I do think it’s going to take time,” said Steven James, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman’s New York City brokerage. “It’s predicated on sellers getting the message that they need to price realistically.”

As sales decline, prices keep falling too. The median sales price slid 4.5 percent to $1.1 million, the report said. But negotiability hasn’t changed significantly since last year. The disconnect between buyers and sellers has led to fewer sales — but when deals do close, the discount has consistently been around 5 percent, said Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the author of the report.

“There’s still a large problem with listings priced too high,” he said, adding that it typically takes about two years for a seller to “de-anchor” from the expectations of the old asking price.

The high end of the market is having particular trouble bouncing back, with a 9.7 percent drop in the median sales price. The luxury market has shifted lower, with the top 10 percent of the market at the lowest level in three years, the report said.

The Northern Manhattan market, meanwhile, saw somewhat of a boost. The median sales price for condominiums and co-ops jumped 13.9 percent to $682,338 — but sales declined 13.5 percent.

In a separate report, Halstead noted that condos continue to make up a larger portion of resale apartments — but resales have spent 11 percent more time on the market than a year ago. During the quarter, those listings averaged 104 days. The highest percentage of resales was on the East side.