Less is more: Small Manhattan condos, co-ops ruled in 2010s

Median sale price of studios rose 23%, but fell for four-bedrooms

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

Manhattan condos and co-ops sold in the past decade shrunk — literally — but the price of smaller units grew more than for large ones on a percentage basis.

The average Manhattan apartment sold between 2010 and 2019 was just under 1,135 square feet, the smallest in more than three decades, according to Douglas Elliman’s 10-year report on the Manhattan sales market. It was authored by appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel and examines data recorded between 2010 to 2019.

Less was apparently more, however, when it came to prices. Median sales prices for studio apartments rose by about 23 percent over the 10-year period, while spacious four-bedrooms saw median prices slide by about 3 percent.

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Sale prices for one- and two-bedroom apartments also grew over the decade, by 32.5 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Overall, the median sales price grew by 24 percent to just over $1 million.

Sales volume by dollar amount grew over the decade by nearly 32 percent, from $14.6 billion in 2010 to $19.3 billion in 2019.

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Price gains came at the expense of deals. The decade’s most prolific year for co-op and condo sales was 2013, when 12,735 units changed hands, but the number fell to 10,048 last year, a 21 percent drop. The number of sales in that peak year was the second most on record after 2007, when 13,430 deals were done.

Steven James, Elliman’s New York CEO and president, said the drop in sales was expected, but he was surprised by the rise in demand for smaller apartments.

“I guess I thought it would be lower,” he admitted. “But the more I thought about it, it made perfect sense.”

He said the lower mortgage rates at the end of the decade accounted for the movement and demand for properties below $5 million. “That combination has worked well for entry-level [buyers],” he explained.

Condos and co-ops sold faster in 2019 than in 2010, as they spent an average of 101 days on the market, down from 119.

And, finally, listing inventory in 2019 was down more than 8 percent from the start of the decade. Last year, Miller logged 6,643 property listings compared with 7,232 in 2010.

Write to Erin Hudson at ekh@therealdeal.com

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