A Housing Double Dip in New York?

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Recent data from the Case-Shiller Index showed U.S. home prices slowing down and raised the specter of a double dip in the housing market.

While critics say Case-Shiller isn't a very good gauge of the New York City market (it measures repeat sales of single-family homes and so doesn’t include condos and co-ops), the trend still has New York market-watchers wondering what's in store. The city’s biggest real-estate firms and the website Streeteasy.com have let loose their market surveys for the fourth quarter and the outlook appears, if not roller-coasterish as Case-Shiller suggests, mixed to cautiously optimistic.

The surveys showed decent price increases nearly across the board. According to the Prudential Douglas Elliman report, average sales prices were up 14.4 percent from 2009 to $1,482,650. Properties aren’t lingering as long, either, spending an average of 125 days on the market, down from 204 days a year earlier. Large apartments are selling well; two-bedrooms and larger comprised 45 percent of co-op sales, up from 40 percent the year before, according to Brown Harris Stevens.

Nonetheless, a decline in the number of transactions suggests a gloomier picture. According to Streeteasy, the total number of closings fell from 3,600 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to approximately 2,900 in 2010. The number of properties that went into contract, 2,097 in all, was down 7.7 percent. Experts say an anomalously hectic 2009 is causing the dip, but as Streeteasy’s research director, Sofia Song, put it: “We can’t ignore that volume is down … I wouldn’t break out the Champagne yet.”