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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's official, the Manhattan market is hot again

shoes_sm.jpgheadroomRegular readers of this blog won't find this story any surprise, but an article titled Housing Market Heats Up Again in New York City penned by Tracie Rozhon of the The New York Times, confirms that both buyer activity and prices are up in Manhattan for January. We reported the story here first, almost a month and a half ago, in my first 'Shoe Leather' post on 01.09.2007 simply titled 'Open house attendance soars', and followed up by 'Market heats up as temperatures drop'. NY Times readers catapulted the story to the number one most e-mailed story of the day, mirroring the public's very substantial interest and surprise in the strength of the marketplace. Nice validation that the kind of direct, anecdotal reporting, which is possible from the pavement level view of this broker blog, is giving an accurate bounce on market trends a couple of steps ahead of the pack.

Jonathan Miller of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the blog Matrix, was quoted in the story and provided the statistical evidence of the trend.

"the number of contracts signed this January was 19.4 percent higher than in January 2006. Prices were up 14.4 percent in the same time period. Inventory, which was mounting last summer, is shrinking fast"
No doubt that the re-bound is fueled by a particularly good bonus year in 2006 for Wall Street executives and a strong regional economy. But I believe that it has breadth too. There is activity on everything from starter studios, to the trophy apartments the big bonus recipients buy. We are seeing pent-up demand in the marketplace burst into a flurry of buying as a result of a more broadly based confidence in the future.

It remains clear that the perception of value and proper marketing are big factors. One for sale by owner listing I checked out downtown 2 weeks ago was shocked to hear that Corcoran was pulling-in high traffic at open houses while his, promoted on nytimes.com, only had 4 visitors at the time. I guess 2.4 millon unique monthly visitors to corcoran.com and the added value of being seen on New York City's fastest growing real estate blog (comitini.com in case you are in any doubt), can make a difference.

Most of the agents this week expected a much lighter turnout because of people traveling over the long President's holiday weekend. The attendance exceeded expectations. Some properties were busier than others. In our office, agents reported between 11 to18 signed-in parties on average— some reported less too. None reported huge spikes of 50+ people as in recent weeks. That being noted, buyer activity continues to be way up over the last quarter of 2006. One of my customers, who attended an open house on a well priced loft in Noho, saw so much interest there that they declined to jump into the bidding fray— a kind of cautiousness which is a distinct trait of the recent buying surge.

I personally visited several open houses including Susan Singer's conversion project at 801 Riverside Drive in Hamilton Heights on Sunday, as well as showing properties at 230 Riverside Drive at 95th Street. I noted the high traffic at both. Susan reported over 18 signed-in guests there. Valerie Dominguez held three open houses with more mixed results; 333 East 46th Street #2F had 16 people show up and now has an accepted offer on it. 309 East 109th #4C had three, and 319 East 105 #2E had six signed in. Nick Rafello had just seven signed in at 720 West 173rd Street #41, yet had 2 offers with one accepted. Paula Manikowski reported 13 signed-in at 440 West 23rd Street #B. Dennis Margulies, who's taken over marketing for the remaining sponsor apartments at the Urban Glass House at 330 Spring Street had 13 parties show up there and 16 at his exclusive at 16 West 16th Street. Kathleen Manikowski cancelled her open house for 60 East 9th Street #436 because of a contract that was signed late Friday, and had 13 attendees a week earlier. Matthew Mackay reports 8 parties in attendance at 311 Greenwich Street and 10 at 41 East 28th Street. Overall the results were strong and properties are indeed selling well. Congratulations to all of the new homeowners, sellers and their brokers.

read the full article: Housing Market Heats Up Again in New York City or the contrarian point of view on property grunt, and see what frenzied commenters (I'm #178 and counting) are posting at curbed thought.