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Witten by: Joe Anuta
The median price in the first quarter hit $972,428, up 14% from the previous three months as robust demand collided with low supply. Sales of high-end units, including a five-bedroom penthouse in Chelsea which $51 million, helped drive the market.
The median price for Manhattan condominiums and co-ops hit a record $972,428 in the first quarter, amid solid growth across the boards, according to several reports released Tuesday morning. That price was up a sharp 14% from the final quarter of 2013, according to an overview from Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
"This represented the fourth consecutive quarter where we had very robust sales activity," said Jonathan Miller, chief executive at Miller Samuel, the firm that prepared the report.
In fact, he noted that virtually every measure stood at a new high last quarter, a list that includes the average price for all types of apartments and average per square foot, as well as new highs set for condos.
Much of the uptick is due to simple economics.
"Demand is the most robust I've ever seen," said Pamela Liebman, chief executive at The Corcoran Group. When coupled with the historic low inventory that has dogged the market for years, observers agree that rising prices come as no surprise.
Some of the dollar figures in the reports were pulled upward by big-ticket purchases, including the five-bedroom penthouse condo at Walker Tower on West 18th Street that sold for $50.9 million, and brisk demand large units at other upscale towers like 56 Leonard in TriBeCa. But in addition to a flow of new super-luxury units hitting the market and pulling up overall prices, median sales prices of all sizes of units in Manhattan rose as well.
Even the co-op and resale markets remained strong, according to Diane Ramirez, chief executive of Halstead Property.
"I look for general health in the market," she said. "And I like the numbers this quarter."
Even the Upper East Side submarket, which historically produced lackluster sales figures in the new development category, got a boost last quarter from buyers looking for 3 bedroom apartments or bigger in new developers like 737 Park Ave.
Average prices in the neighborhood for that size unit shot up to $6.2 million, a whopping 57% above year earlier levels, according to a report from Brown Harris Stevens. Meanwhile, a similar performance was playing out in downtown.
Observers caution, however, that such year-over-year comparisons need be taken with a grain of salt. They note that as a flood of tax driven sales activity in the final three months of 2012, greatly cooled sales for much of 2013.
The bottom line is that the robust price gains posted in the most recent quarter are not expected to continue. Many see a sign of that in the figures for the total dollar volume of sales in the first quarter, which traditionally leads price trends. That volume figure rose just 0.3% in the quarter from the previous three months.