April 1, 2020

Shameless Self-Promotion: Wall Street Journal

Home Sales Slide

Manhattan Still Outshines Other Areas


The pace of co-op and condominium transactions in Manhattan continued to lag in November, setting the stage for the lowest rate of quarterly sales since the depths of the economic slowdown last year.

New York Markets

But brokers say the market is far less bleak than the sagging housing market across much of the country, where prices have been sliding and mortgage-delinquency and foreclosure rates remain high.

Despite the latest falloff in closed sales following a surge earlier this year, prices remain largely stable in Manhattan, with average prices flat and median prices slipping, according to the data.

Yet brokers say that they have been busy over the past few months, with an increasing number of new sales contracts signed but not yet counted in the statistics. Much of this new activity won’t be reflected in sales statistics until early 2011, they said.

The sales figures, compiled from deeds and co-op sales documents, show that sales in the first two months of the fourth quarter are running more than 25% below the first two months of the prior quarter.

Since 2007 when the housing market was booming, sales were only slower in the first and second quarter of 2009, after brokers said the real-estate market here was mostly paralyzed by the downturn.

Jonathan Miller, an appraiser and president of Miller Samuel Inc., said the latest figures may be ushering a period of stability and normalcy in the market. As a result, prices and sales will be unlikely to rise or fall very much as the economy gradually stabilizes, he said.

“We are not happy unless things are spinning wildly out of control or soaring up to the moon,” he said. “In my view moderation is going to be the story for the new couple of years.”

Pam Liebman, president of Corcoran Group, said that the market “feels very good right now,” with a pickup in contract activity in October, and a slight falloff in November.

“In our business, the high end of the market is huge, above $5 million and above $10 million,” she said.

Reported sales figures can lag weeks or even months behind contract signings in Manhattan, because of the delays required to give co-op and condo boards time to review the qualifications of buyers.

Noah Rosenblatt, a broker who tracks listing statistics on a new website, Urbandigs.com, found that contract signings slid over the summer and began to rebound in October and November.

So far this quarter, average apartment prices were nearly flat while median prices fell 3.9%. Median co-op prices fell while median condo prices rose.

Sandy Edry, a broker at CitiHabitats, said that sales in the “lower to middle range” fell off in the fall, but began to pick up in the last few weeks. But at the same time, the high end of the market remains strong for him, he said.

Though December is usually a weak month for sales activity, he said he would be kept busy by an influx of foreign buyers who have made appointment to see two listings he has on Central Park South.

“I have an Australian, an Italian and English and German buyer coming from overseas for the holidays,” he said.


  1. Ryan Hinricher says

    Sandy, congrats on the quote. Good luck with the buyers on CPS. Foreign buyers are coming to the US in droves and that’s expected to increase significantly in the next 12-24 months. That’s good news for all of us.