Emails one of our trusty Wall Street tipsters, "Thought you'd find it interesting that Goldman is now weighing in on the Manhattan real estate market." We certainly do! Until we started reading the thing—fuck, man, this shit is dense. (Someone's getting paid by the word!) Let's give it the ol' parse.
Goldman: "New York apartment prices are very high relative to the observable fundamentals. Using three alternative yardsticks—price/rent, price/income, and affordability—we find that prices would need to decline by 35%-44% to return to the valuation levels seen in the 1995-1999 period, before the start of the recent boom."
Translation: Think 15% down is bad? There's another 30% to go. Wheee!
Goldman: "Under the (admittedly unrealistic) assumption that prices decline by the same percentage in each market segment, this type of drop would imply that a 1-bedroom condo whose price currently averages roughly $800,000 would decline to $480,000; a 2-bedroom condo would decline from $1.7 million to $1 million; and a 3-bedroom condo would decline from $3 million to $1.8 million."
Translation: Look! We can do math!
Goldman: "It is instructive to consider the potential implications of a return of relative Manhattan incomes toward the national norm prevailing before the Wall Street boom of the past two decades, either because of pay cuts in the financial industry or because of a possible out-migration of affluent individuals. From 1969 to 1986, Manhattan per-capita income averaged 2 times the national average, with no clear trend. Over the next two decades, however, it grew to 3 times the national average. If incomes fell back to the pre-1986 level of 2 times the national average—and if national per capita income remained unchanged—prices would need to fall as much as 58% to return to the 1995-1999 price/income ratio.
Translation: 58%, people. Commence serious heavy breathing... now.
Goldman: "In addition, it could be that societal and demographic changes will keep New York apartment valuations above the levels that prevailed in earlier periods. For example, one might argue that the memory of high crime rates was still fresh enough in 1995-1999 to make this period an excessively pessimistic benchmark. If crime stays low during the current economic downturn, perhaps Manhattan real estate will retain its higher valuation in coming years. Alternatively, one might argue that the aging of the baby boomers will continue to support the New York market as "empty nesters" want to live closer to the city's attractions. These types of arguments are difficult to quantify and are often heard just prior to the start of a real estate downturn, but they do underscore that our analysis of the observable data on prices, rents, incomes, and interest rates only provides a very partial view of the New York apartment market."
Translation: Okay. We have no fucking idea what's going on either.
FUN SCARY BONUS GRAPHIC: