Manhattan apartment sales plunged the most in 18 years last quarter as buyers faced the prospect of a recession and job cuts at Wall Street securities firms.
First-quarter sales fell 34 percent from a year earlier and inventory rose 4.6 percent to 6,194 units, New York-based real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and broker Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate said in a report today. The median price of a Manhattan co-operative apartment or condominium increased 13.2 percent to a record $945,000.
``If it continues along this pattern, we're in a period of transition to a weaker market,'' Miller Samuel President Jonathan Miller said in an interview. ``You typically see a slowdown in sales activity precede a slowdown in pricing.''
Financial companies have cut at least 34,000 jobs in the past nine months as losses and writedowns related to mortgage- backed securities climbed to at least $230 billion. Wall Street drives Manhattan real estate, with the median apartment price roughly tracking bonuses paid by investment banks since 1997, Miller said.
Until now, Manhattan has avoided the national housing slump. Last year, the U.S. saw the first drop in existing home prices since the Great Depression, while Manhattan apartment prices rose 3.6 percent, according to Miller Samuel.>>>MORE
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