The Big Apple: Area prices hold up pretty well

Hitting nine-year lows, prices of single-family homes in the region have held up better than elsewhere

Home prices in the New York area have hit their lowest level since the depths of the real estate downturn in mid-2009 and are now back to the averages of nine years ago, according to the latest data.

Since topping out in June 2006, home values in the metropolitan area have slid by more than 24 percent, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which tracks the price of single-family homes.

Over the past year, through the end of March, prices continued to drop, falling 3.4 percent as weakness reentered the market in the wake of the expiration of the homebuyers’ tax credit.

“New York is still one of the healthier markets in the nation,” commented Maureen Maitland, who tracks housing for Standard & Poor’s. “The market is fairly compact, and there’s not much overbuilding, so the homes have retained some of their value.”

Summer rental market has begun, so rents are climbing in Manhattan

Rents for Manhattan apartments rose an average of 0.68 percent in May, according to the latest report from MNS, formerly the Real Estate Group of New York (TREGNY).

For doorman units, the increase was 1.12 percent; in buildings without door personnel, it was 0.24 percent.

Year-over-year numbers also continue to be in positive territory, 6 percent higher than in 2010.

Paradoxically, the vacancy rate has grown, up 2.93 percent, with most of the change in non-doorman units, where the number of available apartments grew by 5.24 percent. Vacancies in doorman buildings fell 1.89 percent even with rising prices.

“As summer activity continues to pick up, we anticipate that these small increases in vacancies will be absorbed into the market,” MNS said in its monthly report.

At least some Web sites can help in the search for a rental

Cracking New York’s real estate code can be daunting, particularly for those without an ample financial cushion or a network of resident friends. But one starting point is visiting a handful of helpful Web sites.

To become a savvier renter, and to avoid deals that are too good to be true, it’s essential to get a good handle on the city’s real estate picture.

Expect the unexpected after you move into your new apartment

Both and The Apple, Peeled recently weighed in on the surprises that owners must confront only after they have taken up residence in their new homes.

The list is disconcertingly long, but the combined message is caveat emptor.

Buyers show renewed interest in two-bedroom apartments

Sales of studios and one-bedrooms rebounded first after the market crashed in late 2008, followed by three-bedrooms, but it wasn’t until mid-2010 that the two-bedroom market started its comeback.

Now, brokers say that the demand for smaller apartments has ebbed and that two-bedroom apartments are all the rage, especially those priced at the lower end of the market.

Pace of sales improves modestly

Although appraisal executive Jonathan Miller finds growing weakness at the entry level as the absorption rate expands for properties selling below $500,000, he says that all other categories experienced modest improvement (faster absorption rates) compared with last year at this time.

The East Side appears to be the weakest neighborhood, and in all of Manhattan, the absorption rate shows weakness above $3 million.

Moving in New York City is getting more and more expensive

Faced with skyrocketing operating costs, but also under pressure to keep monthly owners’ charges low — and reserve funds high — condo and co-op boards are feeling the pinch.  That means zeroing in on easy revenue-boosters, many of which are charges imposed on new buyers and renters.

Often totaling several thousands of dollars, these costs come in the form of application review fees, administrative fees, move-in fees and various other add-ons from managing agents and boards.

How big is shadow inventory?

With sales picking up and some new condos morphing into rentals, everyone agrees that the number of shadow units has dropped.

But no one knows by exactly how much.

The marketplace is schizophrenic, says the Real Deal

A higher-than-expected price could be the result of savvy negotiating by the listing broker. But it also is symptomatic of an overall schizophrenia in the marketplace, brokers tell the Real Deal.

Holdouts now seem willing to come off the sidelines, brokers say, yet it’s difficult to predict which apartments will launch bidding wars and which ones will sit.

Dead space in buildings is coming alive

New York residents are coming up with even more inventive ways to squeeze some coin out of any dead space — a cellar, an unused utility closet, a staircase or even a rooftop antenna.

“We call it ‘searching for hidden assets,'” said James Samson, a partner at the real estate firm Samson, Fink & Dubow and an expert on tapping the value of condo and co-op dead space.

For the boards of New York City buildings, finding unexploited value can be as simple as taking a look around. And while it may not be an entirely new trend, squeezing money out of stones appears to be gaining popularity, in large part because of a more unpredictable real estate market, according to a number of experts in the field.

“I think the boards are looking into it more,” said Alvin Schein, a partner at Seiden & Schein. “Most boards are under financial stress; taxes and expenses are going up. What can they do to bring in income? One of the things that boards do look at is, ‘Do we have any dead space to sell?'”

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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
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3 thoughts on “The Big Apple: Area prices hold up pretty well

  1. Malcolm: My answer is not simple, it has many issues over building, no financing, a bubble always bursts or descends, auctions indicate a soft market, no jobs, loss of confidence, the entrepreneur sets the economy…there are few loans for expansion, global money moved in putting condo prices in the sky and placing it out of reaqch of most Americans…very similar to what happened in Hawaii. Prices went so high people sold ranch homes that were selling for $200k that moved to 2million and families were living in tents on the beach because no one could afford a home, eventually the prices returned to a normal high. I like that you inform Malcolm on your site…I never said it was simple…it has many many issues.


    • It’s always to good to have your comments, Marilyn. But I think the issue is far more complicated than simple math might seem to indicate. And while I agree that prices may possibly soften a bit, depending on the market segment, I believe that for folks who need or urgently want to move, their changed lifestyle can outweigh any small declines (which may or may not actually occur). Moreover, incredibly low interest rates easily justify a purchase sooner than later–and you, like other regular readers of my posts–know me to be no shill for the industry. I’ve never been one to maintain steadily that “there’s never been a better time to buy.” In fact, I don’t even say that now, only that for those prospective buyers who can’t wait to buy, it’s not such a bad idea.


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