Let the Good Times Roll Resurgent Real Estate Buoys Market

Whatever goes up is supposed to come down, but when it comes to the New York City real estate market, the laws of gravity may not necessarily apply. Experts say the industry that enjoyed good times in 2004 will continue to be healthy throughout 2005.

"The market has been strong for the past few years," says Joanne Kennedy, chief operating officer for Manhattan-based brokerage Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy. "There have been dips and some slow quarters over the year - including the last quarter of last year, when things slowed down. The second half of the year was not nearly as robust as the first half of the year."

According to data compiled by Yale Robbins, Inc. and published in the company's monthly Condo Sales Report, prices throughout 2004 were every bit as impressive as 2003's numbers. Between January and November, 645 studio apartments, 1,531 one-bedrooms, 1,070 two-bedrooms, and 456 apartments were sold with three or more bedrooms, for a total of 5,638 units sold. The average price per square-foot for these properties also rose, edging toward $1,000. By comparison, in the same time period in 2003, 1,520 one-bedrooms were sold, 1,023 two-bedrooms found new owners, and 406 three-plus bedroom properties were taken off the market for a total of 4,278 units sold.

While many in the industry have spoken about the easing of pressure to buy, sell, and even flip during the middle quarters of 2004, the bottom line is that the Manhattan market still remains hot, according to Gregory Heim, chief economist for Brown Harris Stevens.

In his Fourth Quarter 2004 report for Brown Harris Stevens, Heim says, "The average price for an apartment in Manhattan has now spent three quarters over the $1 million mark, with the fourth quarter coming in at $1,052,155. The price is 30 percent higher than a year ago, and three percent higher than the previous quarter. For the second consecutive quarter, the median price posted a higher 12-month increase than the average price. At $675,000, the fourth quarter's median prices was 38 percent higher than a year ago, and four percent higher than the prior three months. This provides further evidence of the overall strength of all sectors of the market as the median price reduces the impact of sales at the extreme high end of the market."

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