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Manhattan Real Estate Prices Stay Stable While Inventory Falls

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The year began with stability?the new normal?in Manhattan's residential market. And six months in, prices remain fairly stable, according to the second quarter market reports from the major brokerages and StreetEasy. Consistency! The Elliman report places the median sales price at $829,000, a 2.5 percent decline from the second quarter of 2011. The Brown Harris Stevens report has it at $850,000, and the StreetEasy report has it at $840,000?all in the same ballpark. The decline in prices compared to last year, says our graph guru Jonathan Miller (who also prepares the Elliman report), is still due to an increase in lower-end sales: mortgage rates continue to fall, and rising rents are also an incentive for first-time buyers to wade into the market. Studio and 1BR sales made up more than 50 percent of Manhattan's sales in the second quarter?for the third quarter in a row. The market is "a donut," JMillz explains. "We are strong at the bottom and top (think record trophy sales) and weak in the middle." Mmm, donuts. Dessert distractions aside, though, there is one stat in the report worth some concern.

Listing inventory dropped 13.5 percent, according to the Elliman report. Why? JMillz explains, this time without food analogies: many sellers are simply reluctant to sell amid uncertainty about the market. But others "don't have enough equity to trade up?their home may be worth more than their mortgage but it's not enough to put down on the next house." Condo inventory has fallen 36 percent in two years, and JMillz sees plummeting inventory being a continuing issue for the market. Thoughts on that welcomed in the comments (bring your own donuts).
· Market Reports [Elliman]
· Market Reports [BHS]
· Market Reports [StreetEasy]
· Market Reports archive [Curbed]