New York Real Estate Market Reports: 'People Feel Like It's a Good Time to Buy'

By
Photo: iStockphoto.com

All that talk of a busy spring selling season? Turns out, it wasn’t all spin. According to the second-quarter reports from Streeteasy.com and four major brokerage firms — Prudential Douglas Elliman, the Corcoran Group, Halstead Property, and Brown Harris Stevens — sales transactions went up anywhere from 47 percent and 81 percent from April to May of this year from the same period last year. (Reports typically vary somewhat with their numbers.) Elliman CEO Dottie Herman says compared to other metropolitan centers in the country, our city looks solid. “It was the last to get hit but it’s the first to recover,” she says. “People feel it’s a good time to buy.”

To the numbers:

• Properties are selling faster these days. According to the Elliman report compiled by appraiser Jonathan Miller, listings spent an average of 105 days on the market before they found takers; last year, it took an average of 124 days to unload a listing.

• Streeteasy.com found 2,914 homes going into contract, up 21.9 percent from the previous quarter and 17.6 percent from last year. True to the market’s contrarian nature, however, there were lots of buyers second-guessing their decisions, too. In the second quarter, 281 contracts were broken compared to the first three months of the year, when 190 deals fell apart.

• Co-op prices dipped a bit from the previous quarter — an average of $1.079 million to 1.065 million — but gained 16 percent from the second quarter of 2009, per Brown Harris Stevens’s numbers. Economist Gregory Heym, who prepares reports for both BHS and Halstead Property, says he saw growth in every size category, particularly the two-bedrooms. Average prices for condos are 4 percent higher than where they were last year at $1.686 million, but 3 percent lower than the previous quarter.

So we’re holding steady, but is the worst sales period over? Well, Miller says it’s hard to say if the market has bottomed. The economy’s still righting itself; job loss continues to be a worry, and mortgage financing remains difficult. “The reality is transactions are up, but we’re at normal levels,” he explains. “This is good news compared to the way it’s been, but it doesn’t suggest there’s no way to go from here but up.”