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Is the Manhattan Market Tanking? Yes! No? Maybe!

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Sneaking a peek at market data before the release of the quarterly sales reports is like opening presents before Christmas morning?you know it's wrong, but oh, the temptation! Last week, when a real estate appraisal firm claimed Manhattan sales volume plunged roughly 75 percent in September and October when compared to the same period last year, the floodgates were opened. In the Real Estate section of the Sunday Times, Josh Barbanel convinced the Corcoran Group to pony up the goods, and the numbers are equally shocking.

The number of apartments that went to contract in October was down 20 percent compared to September, and down 62 percent compared to October 2007. However, while closing prices have remained flat compared to last quarter, they are "well above" the levels of a year ago, "with a decline in co-op prices offset by rising prices on condominiums." So, inventory and prices are high? Help us, Jonathan Miller! Luckily, Barbanel has OFE (our favorite expert) on speed dial: "Mr. Miller said that because of the lag between contract signings and apartment closings, typically as much as 45 days, he didn't think sales figures would reflect the price decline in the market until the first quarter of next year." Which makes perfect sense, because by then buyers will have spent all their savings on Twilight merch, anyway.
· Inventory Rises, if Not Sales [NYT]