The inventory squeeze

<i>Some neighborhoods have apartment shortages that are making the downturn seem like a distant memory</i><br>

There are still plenty of unsold new construction condos in New York City, especially in areas like Midtown, the Financial District and Williamsburg. But brokers say that months of busy sales activity (combined with some sellers taking their units off the market) is creating a shortage of inventory in some hot spots. Indeed, Miller Samuel’s fourth-quarter market report found that Manhattan inventory was down 18 percent from the previous quarter and almost 25 percent over the fourth quarter of 2008. In some neighborhoods, buyers are increasingly frustrated because they can’t find the type of apartment — often resale condos or prewar co-ops — they want. As a result, the competition for those apartments, when they do come on the market, can make the downturn seem like a distant memory. This month, The Real Deal asked brokers to identify the types of Manhattan apartments facing the worst shortages.

Upper West Side

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Two- and three-bedroom apartments for under $1.5 million are scarce here. “There’s a large pool of buyers now that are searching for the same thing,” said Frederick Wohlfarth, president of brokerage Wohlfarth & Associates. “We have a real product shortage here.”

Central Park West and Park Avenue
Large prewar apartments on the exclusive stretches of Central Park West and Park Avenue are always hard to find, but they are especially scarce now. “I have several customers looking for five- or six-bedrooms in a full-service building who don’t want postwar,” said Louise Phillips Forbes, an executive vice president at Halstead Property.

East and West Village/Soho
One-bedroom condos priced between $400,000 and $650,000 are in short supply here, brokers say. “Very few junior ones or one-bedrooms have come to market in the past few months in the West Village, East Village or Soho,” said Kathryn Swift, a sales associate at Barak Realty, who has been working with a client for months to find one priced at $400,000. “When they do, they are snapped up immediately.”

Upper East Side
Classic-six apartments priced between $2 million and $4 million have become elusive lately. Jacky Teplitzky, a managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said it’s especially hard to find them in “good buildings” and in good condition.

Lincoln Center
Family-size apartments are drawing intense interest when they get listed because there are so few of them. Sara Rotter, a sales manager at Citi Habitats, said a four-bedroom listing at 10 West 66th Street, priced at $2.35 million, drew “250 visitors in five weeks with three offers.”

West Village
High-end, three-bedroom rentals priced between $3,900 and $6,200 are hard to find in the West Village. “About a month ago I did a search,” said Gordon Golub, a senior managing director at Citi Habitats. “I found three actual three-bedrooms in all of the West Village.”

Two-bedroom lofts under $2 million in prime Tribeca are “very hard to find and when they show up, interest is insane,” said Bradley White, an associate broker at Halstead Property. “I can’t recall one lasting six weeks recently.” Lofts in eastern and northern Tribeca, however, are having a harder time, he said.