Tag Archives: New York real estate

But will they accept offers 25% less than it’s “worth”?

NYC co-op sales collapse. We’ve been reporting on this for months but for the benefit of those Greenwich residents who don’t believe something’s happening if it isn’t reported in The New York Times, feast your eyes.

Apartment prices have once more become the talk of the town in Manhattan, but this time the talk is of uncertainty and falling numbers. While brokers say they are seeing more activity lately, especially from first-time buyers taking advantage of lower interest rates, housing analysts are predicting a prolonged slump in prices and sales that could last as long as four or five years.

In this year’s first quarter, sales of co-ops and condominiums in Manhattan plunged nearly 60 percent from the first quarter of 2008. Average co-op prices fell as much as 24 percent in the same period, according to various market reports released last week.

Condo prices have held up so far, but only because buyers who went into contract long before the downturn were closing on newly completed condominium buildings. But now few new contracts are being signed on unfinished condominiums, and some buyers have been renegotiating contracts or are trying to back out of them. Co-ops and condos make up 98 percent of the residential properties for sale in Manhattan.

The stress is most severe at the high end of the market. There are 350 apartments and town houses for sale in Manhattan with asking prices of more than $10 million, and inventory has been growing. It would take about six years at the current sales rate to absorb all those listings.

“For the last three years, it was the bigger the better,” said Dolly Lenz, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “Now the key words are smaller, livable and affordable. Before no one asked what the maintenance was. Now everyone wants to know.”

Manhattan was spared some of the housing problems the rest of the country faced during this downturn. The mortgage foreclosure rate in Manhattan remains low even today. While thousands of condos were built here, most were bought by homeowners, not speculators, as was common in Miami and other oversaturated markets.

But Manhattan housing prices were driven higher by record earnings and bonuses on Wall Street, and they fell hard when the music stopped last fall.

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Not good news if we’re hoping they’ll move here

Luxury apartment sales in New York freeze. Down 87%, according to the Times.

On the other hand, common charges are soaring and the wicked rich are being dragged up to the sacrificial alter of taxation yet again, so who knows? My conclusion? It sucks to own Manhattan real estate.

Buildings that in a stronger market relied on income from flip taxes — a sort of transfer fee for each sales transaction — may also struggle now that sales volume throughout the city has been reduced to a trickle.

Robert Berliner’s 277-unit building on Sutton Place has a 2 percent flip tax for outside buyers, which he said “was a pretty significant source of revenue in 2006 and 2007.” The building had used that income to meet operating costs, but because there are now so few apartments changing hands in the building, the board has shifted its flip tax revenue into its reserve fund. “We’re trying to be more realistic and more conservative in dealing with our budget,” he said.

Mr. Berliner said that because real estate taxes are so high for the building, the board may consider raising the flip tax to 3 percent. Property taxes were just under $3 million last year and represented the single largest expense in the building’s $7 million budget.

Mr. Berliner, who is the co-op’s board treasurer, said that the city raised the building’s assessment by 25 percent in 2008, but the building challenged the increase and got it reduced to 10 percent.

“But when you consider the state of the economy and what’s happening in real estate values,” he said, “how the city could have come up with any increase in assessed valuation is beyond me.”

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Tales from New York

Prices falling, sales falling, inventory up in New York City and the Hamptons.

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