Manhattan’s median price closes in on $1M: report

54% of sales happened at or above asking price during third quarter

From left: Hall Willkie and Jonathan Miller
From left: Hall Willkie and Jonathan Miller

With Manhattan’s median sales price closing in on $1 million, nearly 54 percent of residential properties traded for “at or above” the asking price during the third quarter, according to Douglas Elliman’s latest quarterly report.

According to the report, sales volume during the quarter that ended Sept. 30 also jumped 9.8 percent to 3,654 following four straight quarters of double-digit, year-over-year decreases.

“Despite tight credit and higher prices, the market is still robust,” said Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report. He cited the strong New York City economy as a sometimes-overlooked factor, particularly given the buzz surrounding Chinese buyers. “There’s a lot of domestic strength that’s playing a great role,” Miller said.

Overall, the median sales price during the third quarter rose nearly 10 percent to $998,000 – the second-highest since 2008, while the average sales price rose 3.1 percent to $1.7 million. The price per square foot hit a 26-year record at $1,497 per foot. “That’s more reflective of the high-end new development closings more than anything else,” said Miller.

A total of 51 percent of sales were cash purchases, up from 43 percent from one year ago. On average, properties spent 73 days on the market, an increase from 92 days on the market last year and the fastest marketing time in the last 15 years.

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“It’s almost like a ‘How it feels’ metric. And how it feels is very fast,” said Miller. The appraiser noted that the current absorption rate of 4.6 months – the amount of time it would take to sell the city’s entire available inventory – is almost half of the average pace of the last decade, which he said was 8.8 months.

Brown Harris Stevens CEO Hall Willkie said there is continued price sensitivity on the part of buyers, particularly for larger apartments or overpriced properties. “The stock market fluctuations over the last couple of weeks has had an effect, too, of making people a little hesitant to make a decision,” he said.

The Corcoran Group, in a separate market report also released today, said that during the third quarter, the number of signed contracts was up 11 percent year over to 3,250.

Meanwhile, Compass’ market report keyed in on the city’s low inventory, which it said was the lowest since 2006 with 6,366 available units during the third quarter, a 20 percent year-over-year drop.

The firm reported a 43.4 percent drop in listings under $500,000; a nearly 31 percent drop in listings $500,000 to $1 million and a 15.1 percent drop in the $1 million to $3 million category.