Manhattan median price for flats close to $1.4m

NEW YORK • A million dollars does not buy what it used to in Manhattan, in New York City.

A combination of high demand and too few listings pushed the median sales price for a Manhattan apartment to just shy of US$1 million (S$1.4 million) in the third quarter of the year, setting a record high, according to several market reports to be released yesterday by major real estate brokerage firms.

The median sales price, which reflects the middle of the market and is less affected by high-end sales, was US$999,000, according to a report by the Corcoran Group.

Reports from other brokerage firms, using different figures and methodologies, put the median price at or just below the million-dollar mark, with most calling it a record.

"It seems like a lot of money anyplace else," said Ms Dottie Herman, chief executive of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, which calculated a median price of US$998,000. In Manhattan, "what you get for a million dollars is not a lot of space", she said, pointing out that buyers on a budget must turn to New York's other boroughs or to the suburbs to find better values.

After rising incrementally over the course of last year, inventory has essentially been flat since January, said Mr Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the author of the Douglas Elliman report.

In the third quarter, Mr Miller said, there were 5,654 available listings, approximately 20 per cent below the 10-year average of 7,047 available listings. "That creates price pressure," he added.

A shortage of inventory, particularly for homes priced at lower than US$1 million, is fuelling competition and increasing the number of commitments made entirely in cash. Apartments that were sold in the third quarter spent an average of 73 days on the market, the shortest time in Miller Samuel data dating to 1996.

"When you have inventory unable to keep up with demand, you're going to have more bidding wars," Mr Miller said in an interview. "We have a tight housing market and it should be no surprise that we're going to see prices at or near records each quarter."

At the highest end of the market, which includes trophy co-ops on the Upper East Side and the luxury condominiums that have been the hallmark of almost all new developments, prices increased 10 per cent to a median of US$5.5 million.

The tight supply has forced buyers to stretch the limits of what they are willing to pay. Fifty-four per cent of all sales in the quarter were at or above their list price, the highest in seven years of record- keeping, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. The average premium paid was 8.2 per cent.

For Ms Emily Weiss, bidding above the asking price helped her secure a one-bedroom co-op in the Gramercy neighbourhood after several months of looking.

With a budget of about US$700,000, Ms Weiss began her search in April and almost gave up in frustration.

New listings she found online and sent to her broker, Mr Paul Zweben of Douglas Elliman, were snapped up within days.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline Manhattan median price for flats close to $1.4m. Subscribe