Some Manhattan home prices up as market stabilizes

* Manhattan home prices down 10 pct year-on-year

* Q1 prices on 1 and 2-bedroom apartments rise vs Q4

* Sales surge off last year’s depressed levels

By Helen Chernikoff

NEW YORK, April 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Prices of some Manhattan
apartments ticked up in the first quarter, suggesting a real
estate market hit hard by turmoil on Wall Street might be
starting to stabilize, according to reports released on Friday
by New York City’s biggest brokerages.

Prices fell in the single-digits on one and two-bedroom
apartments, but they rose on three and four-bedrooms, according
to a report by Prudential Douglas Elliman. Prices on studios
were flat.

“We have a new definition of recovery,” said Jonathan
Miller, who writes the Elliman report. “It means, ‘Not as bad
as before.'”

Year-over-year, median home prices are still off about 10
percent in Manhattan, the U.S. financial capital, reports by
Elliman, the Corcoran Group, Brown Harris Stevens and
StreetEasy.com show.

Corcoran put the first quarter’s median sales price at
$820,000, down 11 percent. According to StreetEasy, the median
fell 8 percent to $804,000.

That is down 15 percent from the peak median price of
$950,000, reached in the second quarter of 2008, Sofia Song of
StreetEasy said.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the venerable investment
bank, tipped Manhattan’s real estate market into a tailspin as
a series of bank bailouts and takeovers caused thousands of
Wall Street professionals to lose bonuses and jobs.

DOUBLE DIP?

Home prices corrected quickly, however, in response to the
reduced demand, said Pam Liebman, Corcoran’s chief executive.
After a lull in 2009, the lower prices drew buyers back in.

“Any open house you attend, you’ll have a lot of company,”
Liebman said.

First-quarter sales were up, almost doubling to 2,384,
according to Elliman’s report. Almost 25 percent of the first
quarter’s buyers bought for $500,000 or less, StreetEasy’s Song
said.

But while sales are up compared with last year’s very
depressed levels, they are down in the double-digits since the
fourth quarter, Song said.

“Don’t bust out the champagne just yet,” Song said.

As sales have dipped, inventory has risen. Miller, who
wrote the Elliman report, said inventory increased 17.2 percent
in the first quarter to 8,027 homes.

“People pulled their property off the market to relist at a
better time, and that time is now,” said Miller.

Prices have further to fall, he added, because supply is
increasing and because about two-thirds of the latest listings
are overpriced by at least 10 percent.

“Sellers are pricing at pre-Lehman conditions and buyers
aren’t going for that,” he said.

Wall Street is still not what it once was, when hefty cash
bonuses propelled bankers into the streets on the hunt for an
upgraded apartment.

These days, more bonuses are in stock and the cash
component is paid out in increments, Miller said.

“Bonuses are good for the economy, but they’re not a game
changer for real estate,” he said.

Investing Tools
(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Steve
Orlofsky)

Some Manhattan home prices up as market stabilizes