Manhattan Real Estate Market: Still Crazy, Just Not As Crazy As We Thought

As expensive as ever (http2007, flickr)

After watching the world’s wealthiest snap up one trophy property after the next—a $52.5 million co-op at 740 Park here, a $90 million penthouse at One57 there—it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that not all segments of the Manhattan real estate market has been drowning in a deluge of cash.

Thank goodness for the sobering arrival of second quarter market reports. A slew of reports released today show that while the uber-rich were out hunting for ever-more exquisite homes during these last few months, the merely well-off (buying in Manhattan is not, after all, for the masses) engaged in more sedate apartment shopping.

Manhattan apartment prices stayed more or less flat during the first two quarters of 2012, averaging $1.45 million in the second quarter, according to the Brown Harris Stevens market report, which is slightly less the first quarter average of $1.48 million. (Although it’s still better than the second quarter of 2011, which had an average of $1.43 million).

Overall, co-ops and condos prices stayed fairly consistent compared to last quarter and last year, with co-op prices at $1.19 million (down one percent from last year), according to Brown Harris Stevens, and condo prices at $1.81 million, up 8 percent from last year (albeit less than last quarter’s average of $1.88 million).

But even if prices have remained fairly steady, people are definitely buying more apartments than they were last year. The volume of closings jumped 23.6 percent from last year and 67 percent from last quarter, Streeteasy reported. Considering that spring is the busiest season, the 67 percent jump is not as impressive as it seems at first blush, but the increase from last year is noteworthy indeed.

And not only are more apartments selling, but they’re selling closer to ask (which may mean that, at this point, sellers are more realistic about what their homes will fetch). In the second quarter, there were 4.2 percent fewer listings with price cuts than last quarter, according to Streeteasy, and 19.8 percent fewer than last year.

The segment of the market that is, not surprisingly, doing the best are high-end luxury apartments. The luxury market, categorized by Jonathan Miller in his report for Prudential Douglas Elliman as the upper 10 percent of all co-op and condo sales, was up 3 percent from last quarter, averaging $5.72 million. And as Brown Harris Stevens notes, while sales on the Upper East Side were down overall, sales of apartments with three or more bedrooms doubled compared to last year, and their average prices were 26 percent higher.

Manhattan Real Estate Market: Still Crazy, Just Not As Crazy As We Thought