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Manhattan condominium prices rise once again.

Prices rose again for both pre- and postwar units in Manhattan's condominium market during 1999's third quarter, the latest stage in a remarkable period of appreciating values. So says the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) in its Third Quarter 1999 Manhattan Condominium and Townhouse Sales Report.

Pre- and post-war condominium prices climbed 10 and 15 percent respectively in 12 months, noted REBNY Executive Vice President Deborah Beck. In the pre-war market, the median price increased from $357 to $392 per square-foot during that period, attributable in large part to the popularity of apartments in the 1,001 to 1,500 square-foot range, whose median price per square-foot rose 15 percent to $441.

In the post-war market, the median price per square-foot increased to $437 from $381 recorded in 1998's third quarter. According to Beck, this 15 percent rise was driven by higher prices fetched for smaller apartments (of 1,500 square feet or less). Consideration for these units rose over 10 percent from the preceding third quarter.

Rising prices reflected sustained high demand, but the tight supply kept a rein on transfers. "Sales volume remained virtually unchanged from 12 months ago," Beck said, noting that 1,287 transfers were recorded during this year's third quarter. Although 2,380 sales were recorded for the third quarter of 1998, that figure included a backlog of sales previously unrecorded by the City Register's office, which conveyed a deceptively high level of sales activity for the period.

"Sales are holding steady as prices reach new heights, and the condominium market overall continues to surpass even the most optimistic expectations of a year ago," Beck said.

"The market's vitality is widespread, as the price surge swept all geographic sub-markets during the quarter," added Hall Willkie, executive vice president of Brown, Harris, Stevens and chairperson of REBNY's Residential Research Committee.

The East Side pre-war market, for example, accounted for the fewest sales during the quarter, but continued to register impressive price gains. The median price of $409-per square-foot represented a 15 percent jump over the $356 figure recorded a year before. Here, too, small units dominated the sales activity. Transfers of units of 650 square feet or less accounted for 18 percent of all transactions, and posted a 28 percent price jump to $387 per square-foot, Willkie reported.

The median price in the post-war market climbed 9 percent to $438, thanks, in considerable measure, to many sales at the Gotham condominium at 170 East 87th Street, where 47 transactions resulted in a median price of $453 per square-foot.

The Downtown market continued to show strength, with pre- and post-war units posting price increases of 19 arid 14 percept respectively. In this instance as well, smaller units registered the most appreciation. "Transfers of smaller units sparked much of the Downtown sales activity," Willkie said, noting that pre-war condos in the 651 to 850 square-foot range posted a stunning 45 percent median price increase of $475 per square-foot. The median price of units of 650 square feet or less was up 23 percent to $398 per square-foot.

On the West Side, the pre-war median price edged up to $388 per square-foot from $371. Post-war apartments, however, continued to command the highest prices there, climbing from a median price of $417 per square-foot a year ago to $471. Sales of smaller units contributed significantly to the upward surge: the median price rose 23 percent during the survey period for units with 650 square feet or less, and 27 percent for units of between 651 and 850 square feet.

In the post-war market, prices surged for every size category, but most vigorously for apartments of 650 square feet or less, whose median price jumped 17 percent in 12 months, from $306 to $359 per square-foot.

Changes in the median size of apartments sold varied greatly by market area, Beck observed. On the East Side, median unit size climbed from 874 in last year's third quarter to 968 square feet; on the West Side, the figure dropped from 875 to 819 square feet during the same time period; Downtown, median size increased only from 770 to 774 square feet; in Northern Manhattan, the median size virtually plummeted from 1,008 a year ago to 872 square feet. The few transactions that occur in this part of town account for wide fluctuations in figures there from one survey period to another.

The geographical distribution of sales volume shifted marginally during the third quarter. The East Side, which accounted for 34 percent of the total sales volume last year during that period, dipped slightly to 32 percent; Downtown went from 32 percent to 30 percent during the same period; the West Side was up from 33 percent to 37 percent; and Northern Manhattan accounted for 1 percent of the total sales activity in both third quarters surveyed.

The Real Estate Board's Quarterly Condominium and Townhouse Sales Report analyzes open market data and is distributed exclusively to firms participating in the Board's Cooperative Sales Report. This information helps brokers assist their clients in. setting realistic offering or sales prices.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 5, 2000
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