Untangling Manhattan’s myriad market reports

TRD analyzed the variations in housing figures provided by top brokerages

Analyzing Manhattan Housing Market Reports

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Mind the gap? Each quarter brings reports from brokerages tracking Manhattan’s residential market — and each quarter there are unexplained gaps in those figures, painting a sometimes murky picture of the housing market.

In an attempt to reconcile some of these differences, The Real Deal analyzed the first quarter Manhattan market reports from the city’s top residential brokerages. To account for outliers and provide a more middle-of-the-road view, we introduced an aggregate figure across key metrics by averaging the numbers provided.

There was a consensus among the reports that the Manhattan housing market is inching towards equilibrium thanks to a combination of declining prices and rising sales volume. But, there were some wide variations in the numbers.

“They’ve never been consistent,” Jonathan Miller, head of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said of the differences between the market reports. Miller, whose firm has worked on Douglas Elliman’s reports for decades, said that Elliman’s data, for example, includes sales by its brokers that have not yet appeared in property records. While this practice makes Elliman’s figures more accurate, it also makes it impossible to have uniformity across the reports.

The aggregate number for the average price per square foot in Manhattan, for example, was at $1,389, with figures ranging from Serhant’s $1,290 to the Corcoran Group’s $1,524. The gap between the lowest and highest figures, which amounts to $234, represents a difference of 15.3 percent. Meanwhile, the aggregate number for the average price of a Manhattan apartment was at $1,717,892, with the gap between the lowest and highest figures at 9.4 percent.

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Still, some metrics are more consistent than most. The aggregate median price in Manhattan was at $1,075,000 and two firms — Elliman and Serhant — had the same figure.