Fresh Round of Recrimination? Manhattan Market Reports Due

The second-quarter Manhattan housing market reports will be out by Wednesday morning of next week. Last time they hit, for the first quarter, the reports caused quite the kerfuffle, including internal company e-mails and a New York Times article trying to sort the whole thing out.

Basically, it went like this: Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel’s report showed a 34 percent annual drop in Manhattan home sales. Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property’s showed a 5 percent gain. And the Corcoran Group’s showed a mere 1 percent drop.

All good and well–different measures by different firms, different numbers.

But! Elliman superbroker Dolly Lenz sent out an internal e-mail picked up by Curbed that read, in part:

I do not agree with the assessment of "our" report but that being said, two major financial institutions which I spoke with today requested an explanation to today’s New York Sun’s story about Corcoran being up 5% in sales volume while we are down 34% for the same period.

How can that be possible?

Then, Gregory Heym, the economist who authored the Brown Harris Stevens-Halstead report, sent out a company-wide memo (also picked up by Curbed):

Last week, we released our First Quarter Market Report for Manhattan based on closed sales and our competitors released their own individual reports as well. One of the other reports stated that the number of sales had fallen 34% compared to the first quarter of 2007. This decline in sales was widely reported in the media, along with our findings of only a 1% decline in the number of sales. The main reason for this discrepancy is how many sales actually closed during the first quarter of 2008.

Finally! The Times‘ Josh Barbanel reported on the whole brouhaha, including an explanation by Jonathan Miller, the author of the Elliman-Miller Samuel report:

Mr. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Inc., said he used the same methodology that he has been using for 14 years, based on a variety of public and proprietary sources, and that differences in firms’ reports could be caused by the timing of data collection. “I stand by my numbers and the methodology used to compile them,” he said.

Fresh Round of Recrimination? Manhattan Market Reports Due