What’s ahead for Manhattan real estate? To answer, a review of the year to date will help. The cold wait-and-see mindset that pervaded January and February was replaced in March and April with a cautious optimism; though spring was late, war seemed to have ended quickly, and the economy seemed to be recovering; buyer confidence had returned, and a good deal of pent up buying energy was released. Then in May and June, the market really swelled as enthusiastic buyers snapped up most of the apartments that had been lingering on the market. While some listings were getting ready to celebrate their one-year anniversaries, there were no distress sales, and, in fact, prices remained high. A mostly rainy summer was characterized by a shortage of inventory. All the while, from spring through summer, the power of mint held, as contracts for properties in move-in condition were getting signed within weeks, some in multiple bid situations.
So what’s ahead for September? There’s a new crop of properties coming to market, and as long as they are priced properly, trading will continue briskly. Buyers for reasonably priced family-sized apartments have been waiting patiently. Most likely, autumn 2003 will be markedly better than last year’s sluggish fall, but perhaps not as exuberant as this past spring. Apartments in mint condition will continue to rule the roost, and will be the ones that sell most easily. The one and two bedroom market will remain strong as well. Even though interest rates have gone up in past weeks, they are still at their lowest levels in years, and first time buyers will continue to capitalize on the attraction of a real estate investment. Notwithstanding a perplexing economy and global uncertainties, and despite the tough issues ahead for New Yorkers—namely budget deficits and continuing unemployment—the appeal remains for a home in New York. Now more than ever, the advice to purchasers is to buy quality, and the recommendation to sellers is to price on or near the contract target.