The Year of the Price Cut

So is it a soft market, or isn’t it? The consensus is forming: Sellers just can’t overreach and expect a huge payout the way they did a couple of years ago. New York asked, an online database that gathers information on most listings in the city, to run the numbers and find the largest price drops of the year (leaving out mixed-use and multiple-unit buildings and new developments). Bargain-hunters and bonus-toters, this may be your moment.

1120 Fifth Avenue, Penthouse 15A
A full-floor, two-bedroom, two-bath penthouse at Fifth and 93rd.
Asking Price Then: $12 million
Asking Price Now: $7 million
Drop: 41.6 percent
Listed: November 2005
Time on Market: 408 days
Maintenance: $5,131 per month
Broker: Laura and Rheda Brandt, Halstead

The living room measures 23 by 15 feet, small for a space billed as “stately.” Despite having two greenhouses and a sunroom, it has only two proper bedrooms. “It’s a beautiful, magical doll’s house, but it’s very tiny and very impractical,” says one broker who has shown it to clients. (They passed.)

160 Central Park South, Apartment 2708
A one-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Jumeirah Essex House.
Asking Price Then: $2.5 million
Asking Price Now: $1.575 million
Drop: 37 percent
Listed: April 2006
Time on Market: 238 days
Charges and Taxes: $2,801 per month
Brokers: Pat Slochower and Richard Gitter, Prudential Douglas Elliman

The monthly charges are high, as is typical of hotel condos. Slochower says that, after a fancy renovation, the apartment was priced very ambitiously. Now, with many other Essex House units on the market, and conversions nearby, there’s more competition.

5 East 131st Street, Apartment 4B
A two-bedroom co-op in a prewar walk-up in East Harlem.
Asking Price Then: $275,000
Asking Price Now: $175,000
Drop: 36.4 percent
Maintenance: $612 per month
Listed: September 2006
Time on Market: 100 days
Broker: Jeffrey Gardere, Corcoran

Yes, East Harlem’s been fancified, but it’s still an area where shoppers are expecting to find bargains. One issue here may also be the income restrictions on buyers: Because it’s an HDFC building, a resident can’t make more than $81,800 per year (or $93,500 for a couple, or $116,000 for family of four).

21 East 22nd Street, Apartment 12F
A one-bedroom, one-bath corner penthouse facing Madison Square Park.
Asking price then: $2.5 million
Asking price now: $1.595 million
Drop: 36.2 percent
Listed: November 2005
Time on market: 402 days
maintenance: $1,128 per month
broker: Paula Del Nunzio, Brown Harris Stevens

After thirteen months and four price drops, this trophy apartment with an 800-square-foot terrace is still available. But who pays $2.5 million for one bedroom? A local broker notes that nearby, “for $1.6 million, you can get a two-bedroom with a smaller terrace.”

480 Park Avenue, Apartment 8E
A fully renovated two-bedroom, two-bath prewar co-op in upper Midtown.
Asking Price Then: $4.6 million
Asking Price Now: $3 million
Drop: 34.8 percent
Listed: May 2006
Time on Market: 217 days
Maintenance: $2,138 per month
Broker: Sallie G. Stern, Brown Harris Stevens
This pretty property is in an all-cash building, which limits the pool of potential buyers. It also lacks a dining room, a liability at this price point; the two bedrooms share one bath; and, well, “it’s still too much money,” says one broker.

160 West End Avenue, Apartment 1C
A ground-floor live-work studio with one and a half baths near Lincoln Square.
Asking Price Then: $630,000
Asking Price Now: $410,000
Drop: 34.9 percent
Listed: August 2006
Time on Market: 132 days
Maintenance: $689 per month
Broker: Patricia Galante, Corcoran

Galante says she priced this one high because it’s a rare live-and-work space. Ironically, that may have been why buyers shied away—it looks like an office, not a home. (That said, at press time, the owner had just accepted an offer, though nothing’s signed yet.)

Note: “Time on market” numbers are as of December 14.

The Year of the Price Cut