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Some Absorption Rates; A Compulsive Buyer Settles Down

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If reading The Hunt stokes your deepest hopes that someday everything in life could work out, then you, too, are obsessed with the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section. Join us as we venture into the depths of this weekend's installment, figuring out along the way what the subtext of each story tells us about the state of the NYC real estate market using our bona fide Market Point system.

1.) Finally, some good (and bad) news from appraiser Jonathan Miller has been bestowed upon us with some absorption rate numbers. For properties under $3 Million, the absorption rate is below the 9.9 month average it's been hovering around for 10 years. The news isn't too good for more expensive units...

-By Mr. Miller’s count, as of July, the properties with the lowest absorption rates were West Side co-ops priced from $1 million to $1.5 million, at 4.4 months. Last August, the absorption rate for that section of the market was 7.5 months.

-"The most drawn-out rate — 38 months — was for co-ops on the East Side with price tags exceeding $10 million. That represented a steep increase from the rate of 19.5 last August."

-"In the unenviable position of a close second, downtown co-ops costing $5 million to $10 million had an absorption rate of 36 months in July. Last August the figure was 28 months."

Those are some big jumps for the pricey units! Some good news, some bad. How about a big ol' 0 MP to balance it out.

Sitting, or Selling? The $3 Million Threshold

2.)The Hunt followed a serial flipper who, though somewhat burned by the market, found true love in the form of a Upper West Side penthouse. The real selling point was the terrace where a man can just be alone and grill to his heart's content.

-"He rented a one-bedroom near Union Square. When prices fell after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he seized the opportunity to buy a one-bedroom in a co-op on East 10th Street for a little less than $300,000."

-"A year later, when he went to refinance his apartment, it was appraised for $100,000 more than his purchase price. So he sold it and bought a co-op nearby. And then Mr. Faszholz just kept buying and selling, over and over again." Remember those days?

-"Four years ago, he bought a condominium on Pearl Street in the financial district."

-"He intended to repeat the pattern, so around two years later he bought a spacious one-bedroom loft with an office at 3 Hanover Square, a former office building, and rented out the Pearl Street condo."

-"This time, however, the market turned. When his tenant left, it took a year for him to sell his condo. He didn’t break even." -2 MP

-"Though burned, he kept hunting out of habit. “I wasn’t even in the market,” he said.

-He changed his mind last winter after seeing a duplex loft with 1,800 square feet of space on the edge of Chinatown. “That made me say I am ready to do this again because it was such a steal,” he said. His offer of $797,000 was accepted. He put 3 Hanover on the market, and it was snapped up by the first couple who came along. Then a buyer snatched the Chinatown loft out from under him for $820,000. Suddenly he needed a place to live. “I was getting a little frantic,“ he said." Tis better to have bid and lost, then never to have bid at all...

Finally, the harrowing journey comes to a close on West 95th Street.

-"With around 700 square feet, the place was smaller than his past homes, and had been “slightly renovated by the sponsor"

-“Then,” he recalled, “we went out on the terrace.” Mr. Faszholz was instantly won over by the 420-square-foot rectangle — larger than some studio apartments, he noted. “Guys want a grill,” he said. “That was a big thing for me.”

-"The place was listed for $599,000, but Mr. Faszholz bought it for $567,500 earlier this summer. Maintenance is around $1,800 a month." +4 MP for the entire quest.

A Serial Buyer Stops in His Tracks

Have any of you guys been so crazy about something like a terrace that you just had to have it? Regale us with your tales!