What Less Than a Million Will Get You

The condo has typified homeownership in Manhattan and Brooklyn this decade. There has been a constant fresh supply, and it’s easier to get into them than it is to get past stuffy co-op boards that might reject you because you have a charge account at Sears; the down payments are lower, too. And despite the fact that they are marketed as luxury objects, many now trade for under $1 million.

Nearly half of the Manhattan condos and about eight in 10 of the Brooklyn condos sold in the third quarter of 2007 went for under $1 million. You can still get a relative deal in a Gotham where the seven-figure apartment remains a dinner-party bromide.

In Manhattan, 717 condos in the third quarter traded for under $1 million, according to Jonathan Miller, the executive vice president of Radar Logic, who produces a quarterly market report with brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman. That most recent report put condo sales overall at 1,688. So the 717 represents roughly 42 percent of all condo sales.

Condos, however, still usually cost more than co-ops. In Manhattan, the average condo sales price in the third quarter was $1.638 million and the median was $1.120 million, according to Mr. Miller. But a buyer may get more for his or her money.

Many recent condo sales involved larger apartments, meaning that under $1 million doesn’t at all doom buyers to starter studios and faux one-bedrooms. Two-bedrooms accounted for 51 percent of condo sales in the third quarter, according to Mr. Miller. One-bedrooms accounted for 33 percent and studios 9 percent.

Co-ops, on the other hand, skewed toward the smaller side: Over 60 percent of sales in the third quarter were for apartments one-bedroom or smaller.

In Brooklyn, 255 condos traded for under $1 million in the third quarter, according to Mr. Miller.

A report earlier this month by brokerage the Corcoran Group counted 311 condos sales in brownstone Brooklyn. (The report wasn’t borough-wide; it covered western neighborhoods like Park Slope, Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights.) Likely, then, at least 82 percent of Brooklyn condos in the past three months sold for under $1 million. And condo sales outnumbered co-op ones nearly two to one in the third quarter, according to the Corcoran report.

Should we be surprised at the bang-for-buck advantage of condos over co-ops, or the amounts of sales for under the $1 million benchmark?

Perhaps yes; but, increasingly, no. New Yorkers now are just as likely to realize the American Dream by passing a co-op board as they are by passing through a developer’s glass front door constructed in the past few years.

And why not?

Condos require 10 percent down payments usually; co-ops can require up to half or more of the sales price up front. Co-ops have boards; condos sometimes do, too, but they’re generally less invasive. And condos have lapped co-ops in development many times, throwing open a greater inventory of unsold homes for buyers to pick from.

As The Observer noted in May, the development or conversion of co-ops has thinned this decade: From 2000 to early May 2007, the state approved the co-op conversions of just 12 Manhattan buildings. At the same time, condos in Brooklyn and Manhattan have sprouted by the thousands.

Recently, about half are selling for just the same.

What Less Than a Million Will Get You