A 47.8 percent spike in condo sales since fourth-quarter 2005 boosted the Manhattan real estate market in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest Prudential Douglas Elliman Manhattan Market Overview.

The total number of sales expanded 27.4 percent to 2,005 from the prior quarter, though the overall number of sales dropped 1.1 percent from first-quarter 2005, according to the report.

Other findings in the report:

  • The average sales price increased 7.1 percent to $1.3 million over the prior year quarter average of $1.2 million, and was 9.6 percent above the level in fourth-quarter 2005.

  • The average price per square foot increased 10.3 percent to a record $1,004 compared to the $910 per square foot level reported in first-quarter 2005. The price per square foot was 0.2 percent above fourth-quarter 2005.

  • The median sales price increased 17 percent to $825,000 over the prior year quarter median of $705,000, and represents an 8.6 percent gain over the prior quarter.

  • Listing inventory expanded 15.8 percent to 6,904 units from the prior quarter total of 5,964 units and was 59.6 percent above the 4,327 units available in the prior year quarter, which had been near the historic low, according to the report.

  • The number of days it takes to sell an apartment, which is a lagging indicator, was 138 days — or 44 days (47 percent) slower than the same period last year and one day slower than the previous quarter.

  • The listing discount rose slightly to 2.8 percent for the quarter, from 2.5 percent last quarter and 1.3 percent for the prior year quarter.

Co-op Market

Entry-level apartments, including studios and one-bedroom units dropped market share from 52 percent in the prior quarter to 41 percent in the current quarter, according to the report. Meanwhile, two-bedroom co-op market share grew 9 percent and four-bedroom apartment market share increased 2 percent.

  • The average price per square foot of a co-op apartment increased 2.8 percent to $933 from $908 in the prior quarter and up 13 percent over the prior year quarter result of $826.

  • The average size of a co-op apartment increased 4.3 percent to 1,172 square feet from the prior quarter average of 1,124 square feet reflecting the increased market share of larger units this quarter.

Condo Market

Condo sales reached 1,073 units in the first quarter, marking the first time in nearly five years that condo sales exceeded co-op sales in a quarter.

  • The average price per square foot fell 4.2 percent to $1,065 over the prior quarter result of $1,112 and was 2.9 percent above the fourth-quarter 2005 result of $1,035 per square foot.

  • The average size of a condo unit increased 11.8 percent to 1,391 square feet from the prior quarter average of 1,243 square feet.

Luxury Market (upper 10 percent of all co-op and condo sales)

  • High-end apartments gained market share, though price changes were mixed.

  • The average sales price was $4,547,201, up 9.9 percent from $4,138,270 in the prior quarter.

  • The average price per square foot was $1,544, down 4.1 percent from $1,610 in the prior quarter.

  • The median sales price was $3,400,000, up 4.6 percent from $3,250,000 in the prior quarter.

  • The average size of a luxury apartment jumped 14.6 percent to 2,945 square feet from the prior quarter average of 2,570 square feet.

Loft Market (co-op and condo sales)

  • Lofts represented 9.3 percent of all sales and 13.1 percent of the aggregate sales dollars in the first quarter.

  • The average sales price was $1.8 million, up 10.6 percent from the prior quarter.

  • The average price per square foot was $1,043, up 10.8 percent from the prior quarter.

  • The median sales price was $1,470,000, down 0.8 percent from the prior quarter.

  • The average size of a loft apartment this quarter was 1,751 square feet, compared to the 1,754-square-foot average in the prior quarter.

In a separate report released this week, the Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson real estate appraisal company reported that apartment prices increased 3.5 percent on average in Manhattan from fourth-quarter 2005 to first-quarter 2006. The average apartment sale price was $1.12 in first-quarter 2006, the firm reported.

Meanwhile, the median sales price dropped 7 percent from fourth-quarter 2005 to first-quarter 2006, to $695,000, and represents a 2 percent drop from first-quarter 2005, according to the Market Snapshot report.

“Volume trends are choppy,” the firm also reported, and there was a first-quarter drop in sales of 14 percent compared to first-quarter 2005. ” The quarter started out strong, with volume in January up approximately 30 percent from a weak December, however, finished down nearly 30 percent from last March. March typically is the biggest volume month of the year,” according to the report.

“Rising interest rates likely to impact the lower end of the market. Several factors, including rising interest rates, lower affordability, and higher inventories, will likely take a toll on the studio and one-bedroom segment where owners are more price sensitive,” the firm also reported.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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