We follow the trends in the Manhattan real estate market pretty closely here at New Construction Manhattan, but there is such a thing as following them too closely. While seeing trends as they develop is obviously helpful for those browsing Manhattan condo listings, it's not always possible to pick this stuff out cleanly. And being as we're down here in the mix and moment of the NYC condo market, it can be tough to find a broader perspective. So it is with some reservation, as well as some excitement, that we present the interesting but probably not terribly indicative of anything news that the first week of February was the strongest week for luxury condominium sales in Manhattan since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in September of 2008; 31 deals were closed last week on Manhattan condos priced at $4 million or more. That collapse is generally regarded as a tipping point in the recession through which the economy is still struggling.
The weeklong boomlet of luxury condo sales on the other hand... well, it's hard to know just how it will be regarded in the future, or if anyone will bother regarding it at all. But, for now, let's give it a regarding, shall we? "News that the week ending Sunday was the biggest for contracts signed on luxury properties since the collapse of Lehman Brothers ought to at least raise the question: Could the New York residential market be experiencing a turning point in sales activity?" the Wall Street Journal's Craig Karmin writes. Karmin dutifully outlines the reasons why luxury real estate's big week could -- and maybe should -- be considered a fluke. Those reasons -- most notably that the repeated snowpocalyptic weather of the previous weeks probably pushed back some closings -- are compelling enough. But even if it's a fluke, the weeklong boomlet in NYC condominium sales might not be just a fluke. "Those looking to make something more of last week’s numbers have some grist for that mill,"
Karmin writes. "The sales figures themselves offer some reason for optimism. There haven’t been a whole lot of bidding wars, but the spread between a seller’s first asking price and their final asking price is narrowing — an indication that property owners are getting more realistic about what prices are appropriate in today’s market. According to Olshan, the spread differential was 18% in January and shrank to 11% during early February. In the last week of contracts signed, the differential was just 4%." Which is further proof, if you needed it , that a healthy NYC condominium marketplace is not necessarily a buyer-friendly NYC condominium marketplace. But given the way in which the NYC real estate market has limped -- slowly but steadily but mostly slowly -- towards recovery, it's not tough to see this kinda-sorta mini-trend as part of a bigger trend pointing towards a stronger NYC condo market -- and fewer deals for Manhattan apartment buyers. Which is to say: get to browsing those NYC condo listings, everyone.