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real estate

Manhattan Real Estate Finds Equilibrium

It's the first day of October, which means it's time to parse the Manhattan real estate quarterly reports. True to form, the numbers differ from one firm to the next, but a through line emerges: The market has found its equilibrium.

The breakdown:

• Prices went up from the previous quarters and last year, according to most experts; per Jonathan Miller's Prudential Douglas Elliman report, the median price jumped 7.5 percent from $850,000 this time last year to $914,000 this year, and 1.7 percent from $899,000 last quarter. Halstead Property and Brown Harris Stevens both saw average prices spike 12 percent from last year to $1,423,378.

• Filtering the numbers by type of apartment, the numbers still look encouraging: Streeteasy's survey has average prices for resale condos going up 21.7 percent from last year; co-ops, by 23.7 percent. New developments are mixed: The median sales price increased by 6.4 percent from last quarter but actually fell ever so slightly (by 2.3 percent) since last year. Average sales prices followed a similar pattern.

• Transactions weren't as robust as the previous quarter, per Corcoran: There were approximately 3,000 closings, 19 percent fewer than the second quarter of this year and 5 percent lower than the same period last year. Streeteasy found a similar pattern, though had different stats: According to the firm, there were approximately 3,350 closings, down 16.3 percent from last quarter but up slightly, by 1.9 percent, from a year ago. Ditto for Halstead, which recorded 2,471 sales, 4 percent more than July to September 2010 and 2 percent less than the previous quarter.

Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead Property, says "the takeaway is that our market is continuing to stabilize" and settle into that "new normal" we've been hearing about for some time now. What is that "new normal" exactly? "There has to be value perceived," she says. "If it's priced well, it sells."

So is it time to use the "R" word — recovery? "No. R is for rebound. We've rebounded from a poor economy. We still have economic factors that haven't been fixed and impact real estate: unemployment, mortgage financing, municipal tax pressure," says Jonathan Miller. "This is good news, but it doesn't mean we're done. We still have trials and issues facing the market."

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