This Just In: Manhattan Still Expensive!

The Plaza
Le Plaza Photo: Getty Images

Some of the city's biggest brokerage firms released their fourth-quarter reports on the Manhattan real-estate market this week. And the news? Holdouts hoping for a slump won't get their reward quite yet. The breakdown:

• While other cities sink into subprime hell, the borough remains stubbornly bullish, buoyed in part by tight inventory, especially in co-ops. If you're still looking to buy, an apartment in the borough will set you back an average of nearly $1.44 million, 18 percent more than what you would've paid the year before. (That's according to valuations guru Jonathan Miller's Prudential Douglas Elliman survey; Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens' numbers come in slightly under at $1.43 million.)

• Prices were up pretty much across the board, with large spaces being the most in demand. (No surprise, they saw the most gains; according to Miller, three-bedrooms spiked an impressive 39.8 percent in value over the same period the previous year.)

• Want in on a luxe condo like 15 Central Park West and the Plaza? Forget it. All the hoopla over these two properties has made them nearly untouchable to plebes: Sales prices there averaged nearly $7 million, says the Halstead report. "The average sales prices were skewed a bit by 15 Central Park West and the Plaza," pointed out Miller. "The market's good, but not 'housing boom' good."

• The Achilles' heel — or toe, as it were — of the market is this: Sales volume is down and apartments are taking a little longer than the previous quarter to sell — 131 days as opposed to the previous quarter's 123 days. (Apparently, buyers are mulling their huge purchases over.) Also, median prices are down a smidge from the third quarter, according to the Elliman report, resting at $850,000.

As for the rental market, here's where Manhattanites are clearly gaining control, or so says the Real Estate Group's December report. Rents are down in many neighborhoods, with doorman buildings in the financial district seeing the biggest hit. Daniel Baum, the firm's COO, prefaces the findings with this pessimistic note: "Though FiDi landlords continually try to incentives [sic] renters with free-rent and owner-paid fees, it seems concessions alone are unable to support existing rental prices."

If you're willing to schlep over to the post office to pick up packages and forego other concierge services, the Upper West Side is supposedly the best place to hunt for a starter apartment. Non-doorman studios can be had for an almost bearable — for Manhattan, anyway — $1,734 per month. —S. Jhoanna Robledo