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Number of Manhattan Homes for Sale Hit a Record Low, Report Says

By Amy Zimmer | April 21, 2015 7:44am
 The living room at 415 E. 80th St., Apt. 3B, a one-bedroom that recently hit the market for $399,000.
The living room at 415 E. 80th St., Apt. 3B, a one-bedroom that recently hit the market for $399,000.
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Corcoran Group

MANHATTAN — Manhattan house hunters are frustrated with good reason: there aren't a lot of apartments to choose from right now.

The borough had just 10,243 units on the market in the first quarter of 2015 — its lowest inventory since Streeteasy started keeping track in 2010, a report from the real estate search engine found.

There were 2.3 percent fewer homes on the market compared to the same time last year.

With low supply and high demand, there's been steady price growth.

Manhattan's median sales price of $946,000 was up more than 5 percent from the year before, according to the StreetEasy report released Tuesday. "The Big Apple has turned into the extremely small, highly priced apple," the report read.

"Manhattan has shrunk to a shockingly small real estate market, and all eyes are on spring to ease the supply-demand imbalance," StreetEasy data scientist Alan Lightfeldt said, noting that the typical "slow" ramp-up to the busy spring season — when more inventory hits the market — was nonexistent this year.

"Regardless, with an already-limited supply of listings, buyers should be ready for heavy competition and measured expectations for price discounts," he said.

Nearly half of the Manhattan listings for sale in the first quarter of 2015 were above $1.29 million, the Streeteasy report noted. These were heavily concentrated in Downtown neighborhoods like NoLiTa, TriBeCa and the Flatiron.

Meanwhile, Uptown in Inwood, more than 86 percent of listings were priced below $625,000.

Some brokers have responded to the lack of inventory in creative ways, trying to find homes for their buyers that aren't necessarily on the market.

Claire Groome, of Warburg Realty, has been working with a client for the past seven months who'd like to buy a "Classic 7" on Central Park West — even without a view — for about $4 million. 

She's been asking doormen or other owners in the buildings that she knows for any leads. She also writes owners of certain units — since she knows the layouts of different lines — letting them know she has a qualified buyer if they're ready to sell.

"These apartments never come on, and if they do, they're priced a little higher than they should be and usually need a gut job," Groome said. "I just bought stationery, so I can start writing letters. A handwritten note is key."