The Big Apple: Manhattan condo prices are stable

Finance chief masticates crow, agreeing to provide tax relief to co-ops

The city Finance commissioner bowed to heavy pressure from elected officials and agreed to limit property tax increases on co-op apartments.

Grilled by City Council members probing skyrocketing tax assessments for co-op owners, Commissioner David Frankel also vowed to do a better job of handing out assessments next year.

Manhattan condo prices in February haven’t changed in six months, sales off from a year earlier

The recovery in Manhattan condominium prices stalled for six months through the end of February, according to the Radar Logic data analysis firm.

Its RPX Manhattan condominium price was $1,040, virtually the same as September’s.

“The flattening of the price trend may be the result of a release of pent-up supply,” Radar Logic hypothesized.  “An untold number of would-be sellers have been waiting for prices to recover before entering the market, and gains in late 2009 and early 2010 may have brought prices back to levels that have enticed many of them to list their homes.”

The firm also theorized that seasonal demand may account for the situation.

More significantly, the February price was 2.2 percent higher than it was at the end of February 2010 and 13 percent above its
cyclical trough in May 2009.  But it remained 6 percent below its level at the end of February 2009.

The transaction count was 8.6 percent below its level one year earlier.

A questionable practice may be increasingly popular

Transactions in which a seller informally engages a broker but doesn’t sign a contract is referred to as a “pocket deal,” according to the New York Times, though others may refer to a “pocket listing.”

If the broker finds a buyer, he or she will be paid a commission.  But there will be no online listings, open houses or advertising of the property.

What the seller wants from the arrangement is a buyer who can meet the asking price, ideally in cash, and be ready to act quickly. Brokers say these deals — happening all across Manhattan, on multimillion-dollar Park Avenue co-ops as well as chic TriBeCa lofts — are interesting more sellers these days.

Flimsy evidence suggests the nascent return of bidding wars

Spring has arrived, and for the first time in three years residential brokers are reporting the return of bidding wars, but of a profoundly different sort. This time around, the bidding wars are much more modest affairs than those that became commonplace in the boom that ended with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

For the most part, the bids that are coming in on apartments today are below or close to asking, brokers say. Where the market is getting competitive and where rivals are struggling to out-bid each other is in properties that have slashed prices to the point that they draw a lot of interest.

Expect rents to shoot up, says investment advisory firm

White-collar job growth in Manhattan will spur demand for market-rate apartments in the city this year and push rental rates to record highs, Marcus & Millichap predicts in a new market report.

According to the report, New York City’s office-using employers are poised to see their largest year for hiring in a decade, adding a total of 45,000 new positions to their payrolls, boosting the number of people looking to rent apartments and pushing down the vacancy rate to 3.3 percent in that sector.

Consequently, rents will reach record highs, Marcus & Millichap said, with asking rents rising 5.7 percent to $3,790 per month.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
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