Price cuts spark residential sales activity

The buyers are back at open houses — and online, too. Buyers are responding to price cuts sellers made in recent months, leading to an increase in sales activity.

Data collected by real estate “spiders,” which compile apartment listings from brokerage sites, show that many more listings have had their prices lowered in recent months than raised.

A chart by Streeteasy.com shows that 68 percent of Manhattan listings that saw a change in price had lowered their prices last month.

However price discounts are less then they were six months ago. In August, of the listings that saw a change in price, 85 percent lowered their price.

For the last three months, brokers have been reporting a surge of activity, and in some cases even bidding wars.

The most recent data available from appraisal firm Miller Samuel shows that the number of sales was 19.4 percent higher in January 2007 compared to the same month a year ago.

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Nate Friedman, owner of Natefind.com, another spider, said the Web site saw a significant rise in users in January — a 40 percent increase compared to the month before.

According to Natefind, the average price search increased 16 percent from $1.34 million in the second half of 2006 to $1.56 million in January.

The range of prices potential buyers are searching has also increased. During the last six months of 2006, buyers had an average price band of $450,000, which had increased to $620,000 in January.

The bands are not as narrow now. While some other reports indicate a more demand at the low end of the market (see above), Friedman said the data indicates more people are looking at expensive apartments, perhaps a result of Wall Street bonus money coming into the market.

“Some of the demand had to do with the seasonal spring real estate rush but some of it had to do with the market improving,” Friedman said. “Manhattan is rebounding.”

Go to chart: Price cuts by neighborhood