Manhattan apartment prices increase

Prices for Manhattan apartments kept up their steady rise in the first quarter, although a large number of high-priced closings at elite buildings helped skew prices up, according to several market reports.

The brokerages also reported a slowdown in sales and an increase in inventory.

Real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, in a report released by brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman, said that the average apartment price reached $1.7 million, up 33.5 percent from the same period last year. The median price for an apartment rose to $917,000 from $840,000 over the same period, the report said.

Miller Samuel reported that sales fell by 34 percent compared to last year’s first quarter, down to 2,282 apartments from 3,474. The firm also reported that 6,194 apartments were on the market, compared to 5,923 last year.

A Brown Harris Stevens market report showed that the average sales price for an apartment in Manhattan was $1.69 million, an increase of 18 percent compared to the previous quarter. The apartment sales price was up 46.5 percent from $1.15 million in
the first quarter of 2007.

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Prices of sales at the highest-end of the market – especially at The Plaza and 15 Central Park West – drove the average prices up, said Greg Heym, chief economist for Brown Harris Stevens.

Compared to the first quarter of 2007, the number of sales closed at over $10 million has increased by 318 percent, he said.

About 40 percent of the closings recorded for the first quarter of 2008 were new developments, Heym said. These units in particular take a long time to close, he said, which means that there were many deals recorded that were probably signed “pre-credit crisis,” he said.

Co-ops increased 24 percent to $1.33 million this quarter, compared to the previous quarter. The average sales price of condos rose less, up 8 percent to $1.99 million in the first quarter, compared to the previous quarter.

“It’s really an unprecedented time in the market right now,” Heym said, referring to the high number of layoffs expected in the financial service industry. “Buyers are processing all this, and it is making them hesitant in certain circumstances, but this doesn’t really affect the high end of the market.”
Manhattan’s 34 percent drop in apartment sales is its biggest in 34 years, Bloomberg News reported.

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