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Happy Days: Contract Signings Surge, Brokers Rejoice!

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This slow news spell at the tail end of summer has officially turned into Pom-Pom Week for the Manhattan real estate market. It all started innocently enough, with a Times report on a spike in contract signings after a brutal spring. That was the spark, and now that little glowing ember of hope has become a raging wildfire of recovery (no offense, California). Today, Crain's relays the findings of a StreetEasy report on new contract signings, and the numbers are eye-popping: 838 contracts signed in August, up 27% from a year ago. The StreetEasy gang tries to temper enthusiasm by pointing out the average prices on those contracts are down 20% from '08 (and, when they close, perhaps way below the latest asking price), but remember?wildfire. Have rumors of the downturn's demise been greatly exaggerated? Not if you ask those in the industry. Surprise!

From the same Crain's piece, some intel from NYC brokerages:

1) CORE: The upscale boutique firm says prices on contracts signed in Manhattan increased from June to August. Says CORE's Shaun Osher: "A lot of people in the beginning of the year were gun shy, now they are stepping into the market." Osh B'Gosh!

2) Prudential Douglas Elliman: Reports an increase in transactions since May, and activity outpacing the same period last year.

3) Charles Rutenberg: The two-and-a-half-year-old firm says July was its best month ever, which really makes us wonder what the heck they were doing back in 2007, playing gin rummy all day?

Even the oracle, Jonathan Miller, is tentatively hopping on the bandwagon, though he's not convinced the market has already hit bottom: "We have to maintain current levels. Activity leads prices, if an uptick continues we will see prices level off." Whatever that means! Hey Smyth, where do we sign for that penthouse?
· Residential contract signings soar in August [Crain's]