What the latest real estate numbers really mean for buyers and sellers

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The city’s biggest real estate brokerages released their first-quarter Manhattan market snapshots yesterday. In a nutshell, prices are up--way up in some cases, at least compared to a pretty blah start to 2013. And there still aren't enough nearly apartments for sale--though the longstanding drought appears to have stabilized. 

So what does this mean for you?

Buyers: Don't freak out

Prices in Manhattan may be stupid high—the average sales price has surged beyond $1.77 million, marking a record and a 30 percent spike over last year, according to one report—but much of that is because a lot of rich people bought a lot of ultra-expensive real estate.  

The median price, which cuts out the stratospheric sales at the top, is a more modest $972,428 up only 13.7 percent since last quarter and 18.5 percent over last year. That means more than half of all sales were under $1 million.

A bigger obstacle than price, perhaps, is the lack of apartments for sale (unless you’re a Russian oligarch shopping for a palatial spread. Er, scratch that.) Competition continues to be fierce, so expect rivals when making an offer, and you may have to settle for your less-than-ideal home. (That said, sellers who need to make a deal fast do exist; here’s more on how to find them.)

Sellers: Don't get cocky

Just because a penthouse at Chelsea's Walker Tower sold for $51 million and other mega deals pushed up the borough's average prices does not mean you should slap an eight-digit pricetag on your walk-up studio.

These kinds of deals do “not have a direct impact on a two-bedroom Park Avenue apartment or something on East 85th Street,” Brown Harris Stevens President Hall Wilkie told the New York Times

That said, you probably have the power to design the deal you want.

Not keen on dealing with a buyer who needs a mortgage? “All-cash buyers continue to drive the market," appraiser Jonathan Miller tells Curbed

Planning to wait to show your home until the weather gets better? You'll have company. “There are a lot of unsatisfied buyers out there hoping this spring will finally be the time they can find their home,” Corcoran Group CEO Pam Liebman told the Times.

The key figures

For the number crunchers, here are the key data points from the report prepared by appraisal firm Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman, plus the change over last year:

  • Average condo sale price: $2.2 million; 19.9 percent increase 
  • Average co-op sale price: $1.49 million; 41.5 percent increase
  • Number of condo and co-op sales: 3,307, 34.6 percent increase
  • Apartments on the market: 4,968; 0.2 percent increase
  • Days from listing to contract: 115; 12.9 percent decrease

Dig deeper:

Ultraluxury apartment sales drive records in Manhattan real estate (NYT)

Luxury developments drive new price records in Manhattan (Curbed NY)

Residential prices shoot through roof (The Real Deal)

Manhattan's crazy real-estate numbers don't tell the whole story (NY Mag)

Related posts:

Ready, set, buy: An apartment-hunter's guide to the spring season

6 ways to beat an all-cash offer

Survival tips from a decade-long survey of Manhattan real estate

Sellers: here's how to get a fair appraisal in a rising market

6 ways to outdo your neighbor when you're both selling your apartments

Buying, renting or refinancing next year? 5 mortgage trends to watch in 2014 (sponsored)

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