Real Estate

Manhattan's tony housing market takes a break

Manhattan may be one of the toniest markets in the nation, but even high-end buyers take a break every now and then. Sales of Manhattan homes, both co-ops and condominiums, fell nearly 20 percent in the first quarter this year, according to Jonathan Miller, author of a Douglas Elliman report.

Unlike the rest of the nation, the supply of homes for sale actually gained, up 5.5 percent from a year ago, which pulled prices back ever so slightly, as well.

The Empire State Building and One World Trade Center are seen from the top of Rockefeller Center on March 21, 2014.
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Manhattan, however, is a tale of many markets, both condos and co-ops, high-end luxury and tiny studios. Condominiums, a favorite of wealthy foreign buyers, saw sales decline as the inventory of new listings in brand new buildings grew. Condo sales fell 23.5 percent from a year ago, although the median sale price stayed essentially flat.

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Co-ops, which require board approval for entry and a lengthy process of admittance, also saw a sales drop, though not as steep. The median price for a Manhattan co-op, was also flat.

"The Manhattan housing market took a breather after two years of robust sales and price growth," wrote in the quarterly report. "The downshift in many of the metrics tracked this quarter reflected the return to more sustainable conditions. Results fell short of last year's highs, but remained close to long-term records."

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Even the luxury market, with a median price of around $5 million, slacked off, with sales down nearly 20 percent from a year ago and prices down nearly 11 percent. This could reflect the strengthening U.S. dollar, and therefore the weakening buying power of foreign investors.