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Manhattan co-op market finishes strong in 1998.

Manhattan's cooperative apartment market continued its stellar performance through the final quarter of 1998, as reported purchase prices climbed well above last year's figures for the comparable period, according to the Real Estate Board of New York's (REBNY) Fourth quarter 1998 Cooperative Sales Report.

Transfers of studios and one-bedroom apartments accounted for a combined 54 percent of total tabulated transactions. Prices for these units posted a 16 percent gain compared to the fourth quarter of 1997, with median price per room jumping to $61,667.

Prices rose across the board during the past 12 months: two-bedroom co-ops jumped 18 percent from $97,222 per room during the fourth quarter of 1997 to $115,000 in 1998; three bedroom units increased nine percent to $160,714 during the same period. The median price per room for pre-war and post-war apartments on both the East Side and the West Side rose considerably during the fourth quarter of 1998. Most notably, prices for pre-war coops on the East Side jumped 22 percent to $118,643 per room, while post-war prices improved by 15 percent to $72,833. On the West Side, pre-war prices appreciated by four percent to $79,375 per room while post-war prices showed a 14 percent increase to $73,214.

The number of reported sales consummated during the fourth quarter of 1998 declined eight percent from 1997's comparable period. Given the increase in sale prices, this dip in activity from 567 transactions to 523 transactions is most likely attributable to a shortage of available units than a softening of the market. As in the fourth quarter of 1997, most transfers occurred in the $100,000 to $200,000 price range. However, on the East Side, the dominant range for sales of pre-war apartments rose to the $200,000 to $300,000 price span, up from $100,000 to $200,000 one year ago, a clear sign of this submarket's strength.

"The co-op market's strength is a direct result of the city's vastly improved quality of life," said REBNY Executive Vice President Deborah Beck, "particularly its robust economy, pace-setting gains in public safety and evidence of renewal and vitality all over town. Because people want to live and work here, the competition for housing has become intense, providing significant returns for many sellers in the co-op market."

During the past 12 months, the median time required to complete a transaction edged up a few weeks to 5.3 months from 5.1 months. Transfers of smaller units accounted for this trend as the median transaction time held at 5.1 months for studio and one-bedroom apartments and expanded slightly to 5.4 months for two-bedroom coops.

Sales in the Downtown market increased, with 84 sales reported during the fourth quarter of 1998 compared to 68 sales consummated during the fourth quarter of 1997. The median price per room increased significantly from $56,571 to $73,333 during the same time period, while the transaction time fell from 4.8 months to 4.4 months.

The Real Estate Board Cooperative Sales Report is the only fully documented survey of the city's co-op housing market, a sector whose transactions are not publicly recorded.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 17, 1999
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