Small Spaces

Is the Manhattan studio going extinct?

By Leigh Kamping-Carder | February 6, 2015 - 11:59AM

Wishing  that Manhattan had more miniscule apartments isn’t our standard operating procedure, but we may have to rethink that. Once the go-to living set-up for cash-strapped New Yorkers, studios are getting a lot harder to find, and that's bad news for first-time buyers, the New York Daily News reports.

Only 30 studios were on the market in Manhattan as of January, compared to 161 three years earlier, and the apartment type made up just 4 percent of Manhattan listings, down from 15 percent in 2013, according to data from real estate marketing firm Corcoran Sunshine cited by the News.

The effect on prices is, well, not small: Manhattan studios are 5 percent more expensive than in 2013. (One-bedroom prices rose by only 2 percent.) Among newly constructed studios, the gap is even starker, with the median price climbing an astounding 60 percent, to $930,000. Why such a steep increase? Profit-minded developers now prefer to build large apartments, since they can sell them for a much higher price per square foot without spending too much more on construction. And because studios tend to appeal to transient first-time or investment buyers, developers are wary of including too many in a building, lest they give other buyers (particularly families) the wrong impression about future residents.

So what’s a studio buyer to do? That is, aside from perusing our weekly Small Wonder column, which highlights some of the best tiny apartments on the market? If you’re on a budget, you may want to skip new developments altogether and stick to co-op studios, which tend to be smaller but also considerably less money (though you will have to get approved by the board). And if you’re open to different neighborhoods, try hunting in studio-heavy areas like the Upper East Side, and steer clear of spots where studios are rare, since scarcity will drive up prices.


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