War & Peace: NYC 1Q09 Market Reports

The 1Q09 Market Reports were released last week. Of course each one of them varied:


HalsteadThe Report

Prudential Douglas EllimanThe Report

CorcoranThe Report 


As well as the Media’s interpretation of them.

A recent example:

Housing bust hits Manhattan(with a sub-title: Prices still rising in Manhattan real estate) CNN/MONEY

Honestly, no wonder buyers and sellers are in a state of confusion!

The one thing that really disturbs me is the % basis experts, brokers, and the media throw out there…20% below prime; 40% current list price; etc.



The fact of the matter is that all apartments; each neighborhood; and every seller has a different story and price-point.  There is no secret percentage.  Some apartments are priced well from the beginning and some are not; some neighborhoods have a greater demand; some sellers are desperate and others are not….To say units should be trading at 40% below list price is just out right foolish methodology for me to communicate to my clients. Mainly, because there is not enough data that has been specifically scrubbed and brokers really need to dig deep for the actual pricing. How can one truly take heed to media reports of condos that include those on East 87th (a walk-up building) all the way down to Walker Street (a full service building)? To me, that’s like comparing General Motors with General Mills.



I have stated many times to my buyers (and sellers): 

“Every apartment has a different story.”  Throwing an average percentage out there is just a lazy broker to me –one who reads the media head-lines as if they are Cliff Notes. One thing that all those years working in a depressed market (such as Cleveland) taught me was to do my homework (as if I was tackling a novel by Tolstoy).

When a buyer is serious: I pull the original deed, I pull the recorded mortgages, I pull the closed comps and in this 2009 market those comps also need to be blended with the current list prices…and, yes, I ask a lot of questions.



Pricing real estate is an element of  history, a measurement of now, a fraction of need and component of balanced consideration…Not an average overall %.