By Della Hasselle
UPPER EAST SIDE — Real-estate giants are finally concluding that less is more on the Upper East Side.
Prices are being slashed in luxury real estate, causing overall sales to skyrocket, analysts are saying. The past year's sales increase may be an indication that the market may be headed for recovery.
"The market is getting better," Prudential Douglas Elliman real-estate broker Alexandra Tawfik said during an open house on the Park Avenue. "Although I don't know why. Maybe confidence is just getting better."
The median sales price for homes in Upper East Side, New York for Feb. 10 to April 10 was $1,148,272 based on 196 sales, according to the real estate website Trulia.com. Compared to the same period one year ago, the median sales price decreased 2.3 percent, or $26,728, and the number of sales increased 120.2 percent.
Moreover, real estate prices still seem to be dropping week to week. There are currently 2,328 resale and new homes in New York on Trulia, including 43 open houses. The average listing price for homes for sale on the Upper East Side was $2,789,656 for the week ending May 12, which represents a decrease of 2.6 percent, or $73,842, compared to the prior week.
Real estate price-tag slashes are the key factor in these increases, Tawfik said.
"If an apartment is priced well, it will sell," the broker said.
However, although sales indicate recovery, other statistics show that it may be slow in coming.
Like many others, the one-bedroom penthouse that Tawfik showed on 1133 Park Avenue has been on the market for over a year. This in spite of its appeal — the apartment at the corner of the doorman-staffed building, with a rooftop terrace winds around the bend, enhancing a Manhattan view that encompasses the East River and Central Park. From the 17th floor, the only sounds that reach the terrace are from voices of children in a school playground across the street. It's quiet. Maybe too quiet.
At the open house, with a half-hour left, the broker had yet to find a potential buyer. Perhaps the second price slash since February, a decrease of $30,000 from $1,355,000, will improve its market appeal, Tawfik said.
Other big names have slashed prices, too, but have not seen buyers. Rush Limbaugh recently cut the price of his Fifth Avenue penthouse from $13.95 million to $12.95 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. Limbaugh first listed his 10-room condo on 1049 Fifth Ave. in March under the Corcoran Group. He originally said that he would sell his property in 2009, when Gov. David Paterson proposed a millionaire's tax on people with income of more than $500,000 a year.
Increased taxes, unemployment rates at 10 percent, and tight credit are the biggest strains on the current real estate market, Miller Samuel Inc. Real Estate Appraiser C.E.O. Jonathan Miller said.
"It's too early to call this a recovery," Miller said. "The key reason we had sales double in number is that last year was such an anomaly. People were unable to make a purchasing decision because the Lehman collapse left them on a financial cliff."