hints for reading Manhattan real estate market reports

spoiler alert: don’t take them literally

If you are a fan of the Miller Samuel reports about the Manhattan residential real estate market produced for Douglas Elliman, you know that in the last quarter of 2017 there were 2,514 closed sales, at an average price of $1,897,503 and a median of $1,060,000.

But if you prefer Corcoran’s take on the 4th quarter, you know that there were 3,140 sales in that same three-month period, at an average price of $1,879,000 and a median of $1,068,000.

On your third hand, if you like the Terra Holdings take reported by Halstead, you know that there were 2,187 sales in the last quarter of 2017 (though it is ridiculously difficult to find that number; hint: last page, far right), at an average price of $1,921,671 and a median of $1.1mm.

The good news is that there is substantial agreement on pricing. The bad news is that it appears that there is a secret REBNY committee on counting confusion, with one firm “counting” nearly 50% more closed sales in Manhattan than another, with yet another firm being not quite in the middle.

watch as prices drop and rise!

Directionally, these major firms came to similar conclusions about the market, year-over-year, though one firm was more alarmed about average sales dollars while also finding an essentially flat median performance:

  • Miller Samuel found an average price drop of 10.6% over the last quarter of 2016, with a median increase of 1% year-over-year.
  • Corcoran squinted at an average price drop of 7% over the last quarter of 2016, with a median increase of 5% year-over-year.
  • Despite a data set seemingly half as rich as Corcoran’s, Halstead came to the same pricing conclusions as Corcoran, showing an average price drop of 7% over the last quarter of 2016, with a median increase of 5% year-over-year.

These are the Big Picture data points. There are a million smaller points (approximately) in the full reports, worth considering depending on your interest in detail and interest in particular market segments. The Miller is fully committed to four pages (two sheets, double-sided, with no room for geographic segmentation), while Corcoran is more open-ended (certainly, more voluble, at 24 pages), and Halstead fills 13 pages with mostly charts and relatively few words.

These firms agree on the importance of separating resale data from new development sales, and coop transactions from condos … all good. Caution: you can easily get lost in the weeds, but if you are thirsty for data (and for different presentations of the ‘same’ data that use different data sets), knock yourself out. Then also consult the Compass report (2,465 transactions! nearly matching The Miller, “in the middle”), and look for others. StreetEasy’s report is not out yet, but it can’t be long ….

Seriously, it can be worth it to dig through this stuff, if you have the stomach for it.

My favorite nuggets include:

  • condo listings above $3mm were 38% of available condo inventory but only 25% of condo contracts were above $3mm (Compass)
  • “The 5% increase median price to $1.068M reflected the strength of the core $3M and under market, while the 7% annual decrease of average price to $1.879M supported the narrative that rising supply continues to put downward pressure on prices at the higher end of the market, where discounts and negotiability are prevalent” (Corcoran)
  • “the average three-bedroom and larger co-op price fell 18% compared to a year ago” (Halstead)
  • all-cash sales were 51.2% overall, 39.7% for coops, 64.3% for condos, but 89.9% of purchases over $5mm (The Miller)
lofts are really hard to count

Since The Miller stopped reporting on loft sales as a separate category (boo!), I find just one solitary sentence that reports on This Very Significant Market Segment, with no supporting data (alas): “[b]oth the average and median price per square foot fell 8% for resale lofts compared to a year ago” (thanks Halstead!).

I’m not in the habit of doing quarterly (or other!) reports, but you can find all the loft transactions that I can find in my Master List of Downtown Manhattan Loft Sales (now simplified to a spreadsheet beginning in 2016; for older sheets back to November 2008 … scroll scroll scroll for the links). Make your own lists!

 

 

Posted in market data reports Tagged with: , , , , , ,
2 comments on “hints for reading Manhattan real estate market reports
  1. Kevin Callaghan says:

    Loft Guy, who still surveys the NYC loft market? I suspect that loft t prices are softer than the market in general similar to townhouses but I would like to see the numbers.

    Is loft living in NYC becoming passé like townhouses? New buyers today seem to want to live in full-service buildings.

    Love to hear your thoughts especially about Manhattan lofts.

    • Sandy Mattingly says:

      Quick and dirty response, Kevin, is that Loft Market remains a niche market, with limited appeal to “apartment” buyers. Especially, as you observe, to amenity-driven full-service apartment buyers. This gets murkier as more large scale new development lofts offer ridiculous amenity packages, becoming a slice of the niche that is vastly different from the traditional (“classic”) loft market featuring smaller buildings with few (if any) amenities.

      As far as performance, I haven’t seen anything that suggests that a given dollar value segment of the loft market is performing in a different way from the same dollar segment in the overall market. It’s just that values in the principal loft markets (Tribeca, Soho, Flatiron, especially) are high; there are few (relatively) low-price options for a loft buyer, especially compared to “apartments”.

      Finally, not sure about your “becoming passé” suggestion. There is an element of fashionability to loft living, and “loft style”, still. But the number of people who really want to live in large open spaces (and pay a lot to do so) has always been limited, and a small part of the overall market. I don’t see that changing; not do I see that declining.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*