Manhattan Residential Market Stabilizing?

New York--Two reports on the Manhattan residential market covering the third quarter of 2010 were released recently, with both calculating their numbers in slightly different ways but nevertheless pointing to the same trend.

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

New York–Two reports on the Manhattan residential market covering the third quarter of 2010 were released recently, with both calculating their numbers in slightly different ways but nevertheless pointing to the same trend. According to the reports, Manhattan is now experiencing a more stabilized local market in terms of sales volume and prices, especially compared with the dark days of 2009.

The 3Q10 market by the locally based Brown Harris Stevens, for instance, reports that Manhattan apartment prices continued to rise during the third quarter, reaching their highest levels since 1Q09. At $1,423,378, it notes, the average Manhattan apartment price was 12 percent higher than a year ago, and the median price rose 14 percent from compared with 3Q09, reaching $890,000. The number of reported apartment closings was 2,471, or 4 percent higher than the same period a year ago.

The 3Q10 Prudential Douglas Elliman Manhattan Market Overview also detailed continuing improvement in the Manhattan housing market. Among other metrics, the report says that price per square foot for Manhattan residential properties in 3Q10 was $1,095, up 4.3 percent from the previous quarter and up 10 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Moreover, the median sales price for Manhattan residential during the third quarter was $914,000, up 7.5 percent from 3Q09 and up 1.7 percent from the prior quarter, according to the Prudential Douglas Elliman report. Average sales price was $1,487,472, up 12.4 percent from the prior-year quarter and up 3.8 percent from 2Q10. The number of sales during the third quarter showed a significant uptick of 19.3 percent compared with 3Q09, but dropped 3.4 percent from the prior quarter (2Q10 was quite busy indeed, as noted in the company’s previous report).

“The third quarter 2010 was an extension of the second quarter’s ‘spring market,’ with sales and inventory levels remaining at more ‘normal’ levels,” Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, the firm that prepared the report for Prudential Douglas Elliman, noted in a statement. “We are also seeing more normal and consistent seasonality–something that has been missing in the economic turmoil of the past two years.”

Which isn’t to say that the market, like most residential markets, still isn’t facing significant economic challenges, including high unemployment and tight credit conditions, he adds. But other factors, such as record low mortgage rates, improved affordability, and favorable exchange rate continue–especially important to the overseas buyers who like Manhattan properties–are still driving the market.

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