NYC real estate: Buyers should prepare for high prices, low inventory

A Handsom Cab travels down Restaurant Row in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan. (Oct. 4, 2013)??Photo by Anthony Lanzilote Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote / Anthony Lanzilote

Experts say buyers should look to snag property during particular seasons or weeks.

A Handsom Cab travels down Restaurant Row in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan. (Oct. 4, 2013)??Photo by Anthony Lanzilote
A Handsom Cab travels down Restaurant Row in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. (Oct. 4, 2013)??Photo by Anthony Lanzilote Photo Credit: NBC photo

If you’re looking to buy a home in New York City this fall or winter, good luck.

Between the lack of available units and high prices, buying a home this season will not be easy.

“The inventory in the last few years has been down and continuing to drop,” said Steven James, president of Douglas Elliman’s Manhattan brokerage. Manhattan sales inventory is 5.7% below the five-year average.

Specifically, condo inventory in Manhattan is 16.2% below the five-year average, according to a study by the listings site StreetEasy.

Low inventory, coupled with high prices, will make competition for deals fierce this season, according to Alan Lightfeldt, a data analyst at StreetEasy.

“Prices across the city are extremely high,” said Lightfeldt. “We would expect prices to hold as high as they are now and for competition among buyers to build.”

According to StreetEasy, the median sale price in Manhattan in July was $925,000, up from $908,750 in June and $875,000 in July 2013.

Manhattan condo sales prices between June and July rose 1.1% to a 19-year high.

But not all hope is lost. There are spans of weeks in the fall and winter when our experts suggest looking.

At the end of September people back from their summer vacations will start putting their homes up for sale, according to Gary Malin, president at Citi Habitats. The market will slow down for the holidays and then pick up again after New Year’s.

And though prices are high, it doesn’t mean buyers can’t find deals, said Malin.

“[Buyers] understand there’s value to be had, they understand what market conditions are and they want to see what’s out there,” he said. “They’re not going to overpay.”

If you’re looking to buy, James offered two pieces of advice. First, pick a neighborhood and study it closely so you are an informed buyer going in.

Second, “make sure that you have your finances in place,” he said.

Since you’re going to compete against other buyers, you don’t want to be held up getting your money together once you find something you like.

If you’re on the other side of the market, Malin said to pay close attention to market conditions.

“Everyone always thinks their apartment is the best on the market,” he said.

To ensure a sale, Malin recommended listing your property just under its market price to “get that feeding frenzy in there.”

According to our experts, here’s where to look for deals:

  • New developments in Hell’s Kitchen
  • Upper East Side near the Second Ave. subway line
  • Uptown such as Central and East Harlem
  • South Brooklyn along subway lines, like Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Astoria and Long Island City in Queens

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