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Three Cents Worth: Manhattan Sales Wave More of a Bell Curve

[This week, real estate appraiser, Curbed graph guru, blogger, and podcaster Jonathan Miller wonders how much we should really care about spring.]

Since Manhattan sales are fairly heavy right now?basically we're at High Noon of the annual housing market cycle?I wanted to look at how important spring is to the market and explore how housing sales patterns have changed over the past few decades. I plotted the sales market share for each quarter and separated them into their own charts. For example: 2Q 2012 (last year's spring market) had sales that represented 25.2 percent of all sales for 2012. I then applied a trend line to each quarter to cut through the volatility. The four quarters (sort of) correlate with the four seasons.

First Quarter - Winter (Jan, Feb, Mar): 23.2 percent of all annual sales. Despite the Wall Street bonus craziness run-out-and-buy-an-apartment phenom of the past decade, annual market share for the first quarter has been trending lower.

Second Quarter - Spring (Apr, May, Jun): 25.5 percent of all annual sales. The spring market has the second-most closings of the year and is trending higher.

Third Quarter - Summer (Jul, Aug, Sep): 26.8 percent of all annual sales. More closings occur in the summer (i.e. spring contracts) and the trend is rising.

Fourth Quarter - Fall/Winter (Oct, Nov, Dec) 24.5 percent: of all annual sales. Historically the fourth quarter has had the lowest share of sales for the year. However, the last half of the prior decade has seen some spikes I consider anomalies. These include the 2010 and 2012 fiscal cliff scare, the new development closing surge in late 2006, the 2009 33.3 percent jump in sales as a result of scant sales volume earlier in the year post-Lehman as the market woke back up.

The result? Manhattan activity seems to be trending towards more activity in the spring and summer with less activity in the winter and fall. Think of July 4th as the mid-year peak with volume lower as you move away from it, forwards or backwards. More like a bell curve shape and less like a wave.

What does this all mean? Perhaps it suggests a consolidated window of opportunity available for maximum selling potential. Or it means nothing.
· Matrix [matrix.millersamuel.com]
· Three Cents Worth archive [Curbed]