Getting Granular about our Market Reports

I am usually loathe to depend too much of quarterly reports as indicators of the current market.  I stand by this, because closings don’t accurately reflect where things are NOW, but where they were 3-6 months ago, when the units went into contract, or earlier if sales were in new developements.

What makes this quarter any different?  Nothing really.  But we do take a combination of the market reports and the most recent absorption report, which covers signed contracts- a more current, leading-edge indicator of the market, and then we can draw some conclusions.

Waiting for the sign

First, the quarterly report.  What are my takeaways?

  • First, these numbers do not in any way reflect the tax plan.  We’ll have to wait at least a quarter to see if there’s been any impact.
  • Looking at all sales in the quarter- A lack of sales at the high end impacted some of the big numbers- average prices for all apartments (averaging every sale) are down 7% year over year
  • At the high end, prices are down for 3+ bedrooms nearly 18% for coops from Q4 2016, and 11% down for condos.
  • Even New Development prices are down (19%!) year over year.  This means that most of the sales just aren’t mega luxury, but more pedestrian (30% fall in closings over $10mm is the big culprit)
  • Time on the market hovers around 3 months to get a contract signed.  Important to keep that in mind.


  • Once you break out new development sales from resales, you’ll see that the average sale price was actually only 2% lower Q4 2017 than from a year ago.  And resale condos only down 4%.

It would seem to me that sale prices have been pretty flat year over year, in many, many cases.  That is, if you’re looking to sell, you aren’t likely to see a ton of appreciation in the coming year to two years for many segments.  If you’re looking to buy, and mortgage rates are going up, it may be a good time to buy.

January’s absorption report tells a slightly different tale.  Remember, this tracks the number of contracts signed, compares to the inventory on the market to get a number of months of inventory- how long it would take to sell off all inventory were nothing new to come to market.

  • In this case, there’s about 5.1 months of inventory across the entirety of Manhattan, which again, doesn’t tell much of a story.   The deeper dive is neighborhood by neighborhood.
  • Condo inventory on the East Side is lower than a year ago; Coop Inventory is just about flat.  This is a GOOD sign, because there’s been concern that things were pretty awful on the East Side.  There are still too many big coops, but overall properties are moving.  Or people are taking them off the market to fight another day.
  • On the West Side, there is more inventory of 2 and 3 bedroom units, and it’s taking slightly longer for them to sell- even in the hottest neighborhood in the city.
  • It’s a mixed bag all over the rest of the city- other than downtown condos, sales of which have slowed substantially, even if coops are still selling at similar rates to this time last year.

This big takeaways?  It’s too early to tell if the tax plan will have a muted or more impact on sale prices and market movement.  I remain cautiously optimistic that sellers will adjust prices to match buyer expectations, with more and bigger deals happening in Q1 and Q2.  Mortgage rates will take time to get accustomed to, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow start to the year, especially if the stock market continues to roar as it did through 2017.

We’ll keep waiting for the signs, and I’ll continue to keep you posted!  -Scott




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