According to First Quarter Market Report, Manhattan Apartment Prices and Transactions Down Considerably

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorNew York–The average Manhattan apartment price (including condos, co-ops and cond-ops) of $1,502,339 was up slightly from last quarter, but down 11 percent from the previous year, according to the first quarter market report released today by Brown Harris Stevens. The total number of closings decreased by 58 percent compared to the same period a year ago.“This reflects what most people thought would happen, and it’s not a big surprise,” Greg Heym, chief economist for Terra Holdings, which is the parent company of Brown Harris Stevens, tells MHN. “The fourth quarter is always slow and prices typically rise from the fourth to the first quarter, so we really need to be looking at the prices for the same quarter in the previous year.”The average price for cooperatives during the first quarter of 2009 was $974,778, down 12 percent from last quarter and 27 percent from the same period a year ago. At $1,910,251, the average condominium price overall was up 11 percent from last quarter but still down 4 percent from a year ago. The average price for both studios and one-bedroom condos has risen since the first quarter of 2008.Heym adds, “Nationally, housing has been suffering for over two years but it is only now that we are seeing a decline in New York. We went into a recession later than everyone else, and I am hoping we are the first ones to get out of it.”There are challenging times ahead, with a lot of Wall Street-dependent jobs being lost, as well as the city planning to shed jobs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean prices will drop, according to Heym.At the same time, Hall. F. Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens, points out, “It’s important to acknowledge that figures from the first quarter of 2009 are impacted sharply by the large decline in sales over $10 million. It should be noted that as 2009 has progressed we have seen an increase in activity and sales each month. Although the volume of sales and the values achieved are dramatically down, sales are taking place where the buyer perceives great value.”Apartments sold in the first quarter of 2009 were on the market for an average of 108 days, 18% longer than at the same time last year. If sales at 15 Central Park West and The Plaza are not considered, new development prices per square foot are up 4% from a year ago. Over the last year, the average price per room on the East Side was down 21% for prewar and 12% for postwar co-ops. On the West Side, if 15 Central Park West is excluded from the calculation, the average condo price per square foot is just 5% lower than a year ago.Downtown, where 55% of closings were in new developments, saw the condominium average price per square foot rise 6% over last year. Co-op prices, however, have fallen Downtown: 14% lower for prewar and 12% lower for postwar.