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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Apartments Sell for Less if They Are Sold at All

Published: April 2, 2009

Hard times have come to the Manhattan real estate market, according 
to a series of quarterly sales reports to be issued on Thursday.

Relatively few apartments are selling, and when they do, prices are down 
20 percent or more from a year ago. Large, luxurious apartments on 
Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue and Central Park West, and new condominiums 
with many unsold apartments, have been particularly hard hit.

One report, prepared by two brokerage firms, Brown Harris Stevens 
and Halstead Property, showed the number of closings of condos and 
co-ops down by 58 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 
the same period a year earlier, as buyers were scared off by worries over 
the economy, portfolio losses and fears that apartment prices would 
continue to fall in the months ahead.

The drop in sales was worse than the decline in the auto industry. 
In March, sales at General Motors were off 45 percent from March 2008.

The report showed that average condo and co-op apartment prices were 
down 11 percent from the first quarter of last year, to $1.5 million. Co-op 
prices were off 27 percent, to $975,000, and condominium prices down by 
4 percent. but were up from the last quarter, as buyers continued to 
close on new condominiums for which contracts were signed many 
months ago.

The number of sales of apartments over $10 million plummeted, 
by 87 percent, compared with a year ago, when sales of apartments at 
some of the city’s most expensive condominiums, at 15 Central Park West 
and at the Plaza Hotel, were completed, the report said.

Only one co-op closed for more than $20 million, compared with eight 
in the same quarter a year ago.

She said sales of one-bedrooms and studios were up, as were sales to 
first-time buyers, who can purchase an apartment without having to 
sell something else.

“Manhattan has become affordable again,” she said. “It is a lot more 
affordable than it was six months ago.”

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