Surfing the Recovery

The real-estate market these days has largely stabilized, having shaken off the lethargy that’s lingered since the recession smacked us all down two and a half years ago. But the recovery has been spotty, and that offers the chance to find an underpriced property before it catches up. New York asked a variety of experts to mine the data and read between the digits, looking for outlier bits of the market. Move fast: These inconsistencies are fluid, and the opportunities they represent are ephemeral.

1. For Starter-Apartment Buyers
If you’re looking for a studio or one-bedroom, data reveal three neighborhoods with high inventory and few sales right now. The financial district, Washington Heights, and Midtown South are the leaders, with 3.95 percent, 5.92 percent, and 6.78 percent, respectively, of starter apartments going into contract this year. (The rest of Manhattan is at 8.9 percent or higher.)

Consider: 20 West Street, Apt. 30B
A 544-square-foot studio in the former Downtown Athletic Club.
Asking price: $599,000.
Charges and taxes: $773.
Agents: Ester Lim and Albert Lim, Halstead Property.

2. For a Quick Close
It’s straightforward but bears repeating: “The longer a property sits on the market, the more the seller may be amenable to striking a deal,” says StreetEasy director of research Sofia Song. According to her firm’s data, Manhattan properties are averaging eighteen weeks to sell; Central Harlem tops the list with a median of 34 weeks, followed by Turtle Bay at 29 weeks.

Consider: 7 West 131st Street, Apt. A1
A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half- bath condo in central Harlem.
Asking price: $575,000.
Charges and taxes: $822.
Agent: Todd Stevens, Prudential Douglas Elliman.

3. For Hard-Nosed Negotiators
Starting in mid-2009, most Manhattan neighborhoods saw a rise in activity, appearing to indicate that the market had touched bottom. But not the financial district, says founder and broker Noah Rosenblatt. Activity there has stayed way below Manhattan’s overall level (see the chart above), even skipping the usual September and bonus-season bounces.

Consider: 350 Albany Street, Apt. 3R
A one-bedroom condo that hit the market last fall and is now being auctioned.
Asking price: Formerly $585,000 (new starting bid: $1).
Charges and taxes: $2,000.
Agent: Bid on the City.

4. For the Bidding-War-Averse
Right now, condos are a tougher sell than co-ops. According to data provided by, only 11.7 percent of condos have been absorbed out of market inventory this year, compared with 16.6 percent of co-ops. Higher prices are the sticking point, says Song. The lowest absorption rates are in Washington Heights, the financial district, and (oddly) Sutton Place.

Consider: 835 Riverside Drive, Apt. 6J
A renovated junior four in a prewar building recently converted to a condo.
Asking price: $450,000 (down from $520,000).
Charges and taxes: $705.
Agent: Sandy Edry, CitiHabitats.

5. For Small Families
Industry analyst Jonathan Miller has records that go back to 1989, and he’s spotted a trend: After the early-nineties, post-9/11, and 2009 crashes, the apartments that recovered fastest were two-bedrooms. “They anchor the market,” he explains. Last year, Inwood and Hamilton Heights/Morningside Heights (from West 116th to West 155th Streets) proved most affordable.

Consider: 523 West 121st Street, Apt. 32
A two-bedroom, one bath co-op in Morningside Heights.
Asking price: $559,000.
Maintenance: $1,076.
Agent: Brian Lewis, Halstead Property.

6. For Vultures
Try Washington Heights, Yorkville, and Midtown South. Song says they have the largest share of listings available (38.58 percent, 35.36 percent, and 35.07 percent, respectively) that have seen their asking prices cut. Central Harlem and Midtown West bear watching, too; they’ve had the biggest general price cuts, averaging a bit more than 8 percent across the board.

Consider: 340 West 55th Street, Apt. 2F
A midtown two-bedroom with a renovated kitchen.
Asking price: $1.175 million (down from $1.295 million).
Maintenance: $2,554.
Agent: Joy Weiner, the Corcoran Group.

Surfing the Recovery