how did lofts do last quarter compared to overall Manhattan real estate market?

a focus on the data from the Second Quarter
As is my wont, my first posts about the major firm reports from the Second Quarter and Manhattan real estate were about the drama of the reporting, this quarter ‘enlivened’ by the drama of the competition between the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times. To recap: June 28, first Second Quarter Manhattan real estate market report numbers out, and two posts on July 1, for real: Second Quarter Manhattan real estate market report numbers outand quick hit: WSJ finds Manhattan real estate market "healing".

Looking at the numbers reported in the market reports for Manhattan real estate in the second quarter of 2010, the loft niche out-performed the overall Manhattan market in terms of transaction volume, even with overall market volume up about 80% (The Miller has loft sales volume up 264%). Comparative pricing data was mixed in the second quarter. The three major firms were in substantial agreement about price-per-foot trends, both overall and for the loft niche, with no significnat difference for lofts compared to the overall Manhattan real estate market. For median prices, there is a largely similar price story in the four market reports overall, but the two firms that report median prices for lofts head in oposite directions and show more dramatic changes than in the overall market. Sigh.

The two tables below break out the (limited) loft-specific data from the three major firms that do quarterly market reports for Manhattan real estate and then provide some (deeper) overall market data from these three firms and from StreetEasy. [Links to the reports are here (Miller Samuel), here (Corcoran),  here (Terra; the Halstead version), and here (StreetEasy).]

Loft data from the Second Quarter 2010 Manhattan real estate market reports, with year-over-year comparisons

median sales price avg price per foot transactions days on market inventory
Miller Samuel $1.57mm [down 15.9%] $1,145 [down 4.3%] 262 [up 263.9%] 80 [down 42%] 548 [down 25.6%]
Terra Holdings
$1,066 [unchanged]

Corcoran $1.64mm [up 21%] $1,087 [up 2%]

Overall market data with year-over-year comparisons

median sales price avg price per foot transactions days on market inventory
Miller Samuel $899k [up 7.6%] $1,051 [down 0.5%] 2,756 [up 79.9%] 105 [down 35.2%] 8,157 [down 13%]
Terra Holdings $843k [up 6%]
  2,522 [up 81%]
112 [down 13%]

Corcoran $810k [unchanged] $1,040 [up 1%]

9,406 [down 24%]
StreetEasy $800k [up 2.6%]   3,500 [up 65.2%] 153 [down 6.4%] [down 6%]

those surging lofts
Long-time Manhattan Loft Guy readers know that I prefer The Miller’s data on lofts because he provides the best sub-set of data regarding Manhattan loft transactions. As with the reports from the First Quarter (see April 6, how did lofts do last quarter compared to overall market?), the price data comparisons in the Miller Samuel report are a bit sloppy, with lofts having taking a bigger hit on median sales price than the overall market, but with price-per-foot averages moving similarly for lofts and the overall Manhattan market.

Again, like last quarter, that suggests to me that the median price difference is more a matter of the mix of lofts that sold being smaller this past quarter than a year ago. I quoted The Miller about the volatility in different price indicators (average or median sales price, price-per-foot) in my April 5 post, second impression of First Quarter reports:

the price per square foot metric … does not generally see the same volatility from unit mix swings as compared to the other price indicators.

In Miller World, the trends for Days on Market and Inventory are similar between the overall Manhattan market and the loft niche, but I believe that the surge being greater for lofts in both metrics is significant. Long-term and comparative data in The Miller’s prose tells the story. About the huge increase in loft transaction volume year-over-year, he notes that the 20 year quarterly average loft sales volume number is 193, which highlights just how large this quarter’s 262 loft transactions are in comparison, and how small last year’s 72 sales were.

In other words, the loft market was essentially asleep a year ago and now has awakened. Looking at my quarterly review a year ago (July 10, 2009, comparing 2Q Manhattan loft data + overall market / the case of the missing lofts), I see that the overall market volume was down then YoY ‘only’ 50.3% while the cliff the loft fell off was 73.5%.

The Miller has another context nugget about the Days on Market numbers. While the loft niche again trends along with the overall market (down 42% vs. down 35.2%), the raw number for how long it took for lofts to sell in the second quarter is historically significant: 80 days on market is "the fastest result posted in at least a decade". Great stuff!

as usual, cross-firm comparisons risk incoherence
There are only two data points on which more than one of the three firms report loft numbers, median sales price and average price-per-foot. With three sets of average price-per-foot reports, this quarter the numbers from The Miller, Corcoran, and Terra are all tolerably within range. But the two median sales price numbers are again so different that grinding and gnashing of teeth is inevitable. While The Miller and Corcoran disagree only moderately on size ($1.57mm vs. $1.64mm), they again radically disagree on the year-over-year trend (down-15.9% vs. up-21%). As I said last quarter,

the only explanation is both familiar and dis-satisfying: their data sets are different.

In such a world, it is a fool’s errand to draw any conclusions from inter-firm data differences. Sigh.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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