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Three Cents Worth: Finding a Happy Median

[Every week, Jonathan Miller, resident chartist, makes analyzing the market look so easy that we wonder why we didn't become trigonometrists ourselves. Of course, we know it's not really so easy. Otherwise, these wouldn't be called 'hard figures.' This week, JM takes a stab at median sales price. The x-axis runs from the first quarter of '89 to the second quarter of '05. The y-axis goes from -50% to +50%. Enjoy.]

In this week's installment, our chart covers the percent change in the median sales price, as compared to the prior year's quarter. Although it may not feel like it, the rate of appreciation over the past year is less than the rate seen during the 1999-2000 transition. Perhaps that's because we are at a higher price point today. People buy with dollars, not percentages.

[After the jump, the peaks and valleys worth noting.]

It's a good idea to start thinking about the median sales price, even though it can be a lot less exciting than average sales price because it removes the price extremes at either end of the range. Median sales price has its flaws, but its a lot less volatile than average sales price.

The chart shows peaks and valleys that are worth noting:

1989 - A drop off in the market in the early days of the recession.
1995 - A last hiccup in the market before it took off in the late
1990's. The apartment mix shifted to smaller apartments that year.
2001 - The onset of recession and 9/11
2004 - The market jumped to a new level after a weak but improving
2003 post-Iraq War commencement
· Median Sales Price Change Over Prior Year Quarter [Miller Samuel]
· Three Cents Worth: Sitting and Spinning [Curbed]
· Three Cents Worth: Apartments, Upward! [Curbed]
· Three Cents Worth: Manhattan Condos and Co-Ops [Curbed]