about that Second Quarter / data party like it is 2006

better late than …?
Of course there is a lot of instant ‘analysis’ when the big dogs bark out their quarterly market reports, not all of which is well considered. Indeed, note the differences in just these two headlines:

Apartment Sales Remain Vigorous in Manhattan [New York Times]

Wall Street’s ills weaken Manhattan apartment sales [NY Daily News]

The Miller collects many such media reactions on his Matrix blog when he reports the Miller Samuel quarterly data, which he did on July 2. (All the firms rush to get the reports out as quickly as possible, but putting them out two days before the Independence Day weekend certainly detracted from their prominence this past quarter.)

It is (more than?) about time that I commented on the Q2 reports, as I have been chewing on them for quite a while (and we are halfway through Q3). The most interesting take-away for me is how well 2008 is doing (so far) compared to 2006 — not to the record-shattering 2007. As usual, I like the Miller Samuel report as having the most credible, sourced and comprehensive data. For this quarter’s price data, the Miller’s numbers are remarkably consistent with the data in the Corcoran report and the Terra Holdings report (here’s the Halstead version): not only do all agree that Manhattan prices were up in the second quarter, but look at these averages and medians:


  avg price median price
Miller Samuel $1.67mm $1.025mm
Corcoran $1.675mm $975k
Halstead $1.663mm $979k


Terra does not report an average price per square foot, but look at the agreement (coincidence?) between Miller Samuel and Corcoran:

  avg $/ft
Miller Samuel $1,263
Corcoran $1,262

transactions are down and up

Remember the prior quarter brouhaha when Terra threw some smack at The Miller about 600 transactions "missing" from The Miller’s Q1 report? (April 14:

Mothra v. Godzilla, or the epic battle over Manhattan sales volume report

) The (irritating but unremarkable) gap this quarter is under 100: The Miller counts 3,081 transactions; Terra counts 2,988. The Miller always compares-and-contrasts, so we know that his Q2 count is down from the same quarter in 2007 by 22% but up from the prior quarter by 35%. Terra seems not Io think anyone would count that comparison as important, so it takes some digging through the Halstead archives to see that the 2Q07 Terra number was 3,469 while the 1Q08 number was 2,857. My calculator shows Q208 transactions in Terra World down 19% year-over-year but up 4.6% quarter-over-quarter.

The Terra reports strike me as more of a simple data dump, which is why I prefer the textual analysis common in The Miller’s reports. Here’s his money quote, following his discussion of why activity in 2008 is down from the record-breaking 2007:


Nevertheless, the number of sales to date in 2008 is at a higher level, and inventory is at a lower level, than experienced in 2006.


predicting the future …

… not! No way am I going to tell you what is going to happen (note: I am not keeping it a secret). I will just say that if 2008 muddles along on a similar pace, it will have more transactions (and much higher prices) than 2006 — which looks like a pretty good year (even in the rear view mirror) except when compared to the juggernaut of 2007.

Can 2008 muddle along like that? Beats me. But so far the Wall Street Blues & Layoffs have not provably ruined the Manhattan market.

I still owe you the loft data in the second quarter reports, I know….


© Sandy Mattingly 2008


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