The Rental Market

Insane Manhattan prices are setting a "record number of records"

By Virginia K. Smith | July 1, 2015 - 10:30AM

Even for those of us whose eyes tend to glaze over at the constant drum beat of news that Manhattan real estate has gotten preposterously expensive, this latest round of market reports for the borough is a doozy. "This quarter, there are a record number of records," is how Miller Samuel data guru — and author of the 2nd Quarter Manhattan Douglas Elliman report — Jonathan Miller puts it. You didn't think we'd even get a full 24 hours to bask in the affordability afterglow of that rent freeze news now, did you?

What's different about this particular bout of record prices, says Miller, is that we can't use the old excuse that data is being thrown off by sales of $100 million apartments. "If you look right now, and why we’re setting records, it’s not because high-end properties are skewing numbers," though that may have some effect, he says. Nonetheless, "this is less about new development and more about chronic lack of inventory."

Indeed, while inventory is still above its 2013 lows (a 1.3 percent increase from last year according to the Elliman numbers, and a 12 percent increase according to Corcoran's), demand still far outstrips supply, and competition is accordingly tight. "Weekend open house attendance remains at record levels, and multiple offers during the first week on the market drive some prices well above ask, especially in the $2 million and under price range," writes Warburg Realty President Frederick Peters in a market overview. 

Another startling metric: According to the Elliman data, 50.5 percent of sales in the second quarter went for at or above asking price, a percentage Miller calls "the highest since the onset of the financial crisis." And while there's still a significant gap between co-op and condo prices, both markets are growing at similar rates—and setting price records accordingly. The takeaway: Competition is stiff in every segment of the market.

With that in mind, let's look at the numbers from the different reports (and how much they vary between now and the same period last year.) Per usual, vary a bit from firm to firm based on their own data collection:


Median sales price: $980,000, up 7.7 percent from the same time last year

Median co-op sales price: $795,000, up 9.7 percent

Median condo-sales price: $1.39 million, up 10.3 percent

Number of sales: 2,674, down 20 percent

Inventory: 5,730, up 1.3 percent


Median sales price: $960,000, a 4 percent increase from the same time last year

Median co-op sales price: $750,000, a 4 percent increase

Median condo sales price: $1.25 million, a 4 percent increase

Number of sales: 4,235, a 2 percent increase

Inventory: 5,773, a 12 percent increase


Median sales price: $930,000, up 5.1 percent from the same time last year

Median co-op sales price: $740,000, up 10.4 percent

Median condo sales price: $1.2 million, down 4 percent 

Number of closings: 3,094, down 12.4 percent

Inventory: 9,390, up 8.1 percent


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