A: Manhattan's worst performing months since 2008 has been the period between July and September. So the first thing we should point out in terms of new deal volume is that we are right in the beginning of the slowest 3-month stretch that Manhattan typically sees during the calendar year. With that said, the market right now seems to be slowing from higher deal volume levels 2-3 months ago, yet we are still stronger than what we typically see for the month of July. Lets discuss where we are at now and what may be brewing over in Europe/China that is scaring money into safe havens like US Dollars and US Treasuries.
First, lets get updated on whats happening in real-time in the field of Manhattan real estate by looking at the 30-Day Market Ticker. The ticker captures daily market production by analyzing every REBNY member's apartment status updates for all the exclusive listings in Manhattan. The tool is engineered to only display 'unique status changes' so that we can accurately count:
ACTIVE - the # of new listings to come to market daily
CONTRACTS SIGNED - the # of active listings to enter into contract
OFF-MKT - the # of active listings that have been removed from the marketplace
I can see by the ticker above that Manhattan has produced 964 new contracts signed over the last 30 days. The last time I reported on the daily ticker, this same 30-day deal volume pace was at 1,296 on May 24th. The market ticker is the one tool that will allow you to pick up on market tick-ups and tick-downs as they occur in real-time. The monthly pace of deal volume seems to be down around 25% from the peak 2 months ago.
Now that we know the month-to-month trend is down, lets take a peek at the year-over-year trend to filter out seasonality and answer the question, "how have past July's performed in Manhattan?". By comparing any month to the exact same month in years past, we can get a sense of whether or not this year's production levels are relatively strong or relatively weak. The ticker above tells us that so far the month of July is on pace to produce "964 new contracts signed" - so this is our starting point.
Below is a chart showing you Monthly Contracts Signed production for Manhattan since 2008 - I circled the month of 'JULY' so we can focus on production in this month for years past:
By knowing the real time 30-day pace of deal volume as we head into the last week of July, we can easily tell that Manhattan is still producing at a very high level considering the time of year it is. All of the activity over the last 3-4 months should have a solid impact on Q3 and Q4 results, as signed deals ultimately close and become public record.
As for looking ahead, equity markets are still worried about the Eurozone as the sovereign debt crisis spreads from Greece to Italy & Spain. Government bond yields in Spain are starting to soar and it's only a matter of time until the markets take matters into their own hands and write a new playbook on what happens next. Another bailout coming? At some point the bond markets wont react at all and equities will follow suit.
That has been my concern throughout this whole Eurozone debacle. It's like we have been pushing the soda machine from side to side for 3+ years and at some point, it's gonna fall!
What worries me now is what US Treasuries might be signaling with a 10YR yield at 1.4%?
*chart below courtesy of CNN Money
This signals a risk-off marketplace where money is looking for safety. The two places money will flock into are a) US Dollars and, b) US Treasuries. And that is exactly what is happening again now.
It's just another sign of how fragile things are overseas as slowing global economies on top of EU sovereign debt concerns elevate uncertainty. We should keep our eyes on this and sellers should be aware that the 'frenzy'market they heard about a few months ago is no longer in play today -- yes, we are still active but compared to May we are about 25% slower. If you have been on the market for 90 days or more and you failed to receive acceptable bids or sustainable foot traffic, my advice is to adjust your asking price accordingly. In the end, the market dictates the right price!
In terms of major shifts in price action for property, I don't think Manhattan will see much of a negative impact until equities really start to roll over. I'm talking 15%-20%+ corrections and the media effect that comes with it. Should this occur, the UrbanDigs Daily Market ticker will be the first place to pick up on any warning signs that the market may be experiencing a shift. But as of now, all seems quite fine and we still have 4-5+ months of very strong deal volume in the pipeline waiting to close & get counted in the reports. Expect improving #s in the upcoming quarterly reports regardless of what wall street decides to do in the near future.
A: With the slower summer season now officially upon us, let us take a look at the bigger picture trends for Manhattan real estate and compare how the first 6 months of 2012 compared to the same period of time over the past 4 years. In short, this has been by far the strongest 6 month stretch of market action since the market peak in 2007. Due to the lag between contract execution and closing (2-3 months) + the lag for ACRIS to publish sale filings (2 weeks to 2-4 months), there is a gap between what we see in the field and price action trends. Therefore, we should expect the Q3-2012 market report (released Oct. 1st) to reflect what has been happening in the field over the last few months.
Lets get right to it. To keep things simple, lets take a look at Supply (inventory) versus Demand (pending sales) trends for the Manhattan market as a whole over the last 4 years. The main point for this selected time range is to show you how the market has performed since 'all bids disappeared' in early 2009, and how far we have come over the last 4 years.
I added #s to the chart below that will correspond to a few comments on each 'active' season since 2009.
ADD-ON (3:46pm) - I would define the Manhattan "Active" season as the first 6 months of the calendar year. Typically our markets are most 'active' in terms of new deal volume between the months of February through July:
1. The 2009 Active Season: Non-existent. The chart will clearly show surging supply & pending sales nearing its bottom after a devastating plunge in late 2008. Early 2009 was the height of fear post-Lehman and the period of time where the best deals were signed by those buyers brave & lucky enough to get deals signed. Deal volume hit its lows in January 2009 which saw 317 deals signed. Sellers signing contracts during this time had to deal with bids which were pricing in future downside risks that hadn't occurred yet. So called "fear trades" took place mostly between Jan - March, and there is evidence of deals for classic 7s and 8s trading some 35%-40% below peak during this time. Deal volume started to come back in April & May, and finally popped in June when it became clear the world would not end. Early 2009 is considered to be the trough for Manhattan's exposure to the credit crisis.
2. The 2010 Active Season: Strong but short-lived. Both supply & pending sales had sustainable up-trends in 2010, which was welcome considering how many thought Manhattan would take years to recover from the credit crisis. Some good deals were still to be had during this time as many prospective buyers still hadn't regained full certainty that rough times were behind us. Nevertheless, sellers were happy to hit bids in early 2010 at noticeably higher levels than only 1 year prior when 'Armageddon' fears were taking over. This bonus season didn't last too long, seeing a slowdown begin in mid-May.
3. The 2011 Active Season: Strong. This was a great year for the higher end price points as the $2M+ market finally saw lending markets open up and regained confidence by these buyers to pull the trigger. The market remained quite active for a bit longer than we did in 2010, as we started to slow in July -- a few months later than in 2010.
4. The 2012 Active Season: Very Strong. The chart clearly shows supply levels falling while pending sales trends consistently rise. The last four months in particular have seen the market produce more than 1,150+ new deals signed. May saw the highest # of deals signed since UrbanDigs started keeping records in 2008. What makes this active season so different is how this very high level of deal volume is occurring at a time when supply is progressively declining. I wondered a few months ago how the market can keep up this pace of activity with dwindling inventory? I have seen buyers compete in 7 multiple offer situations so far this year, only two of which we won. Downtown markets have been especially hot and the general theme is that there is a lack of quality product that is priced correctly to trade in today's market. Right now I see signs of topping out and tI would guess that the best part of 2012 already happened in terms of deal volume and bidding frenzies. Typically the market slows considerably once we get into July & August and I expect no difference this time around.
I think the chart above speaks for itself and paints a very clear picture of what the Manhattan market has experienced since the dark days of early 2009. It's been quite a run!
As for how June ended up, here is a Monthly Deal Volume chart for Manhattan that shows just how strong the last 4 months have been compared to past years production (2012 in light purple):
JUNE 2012 --> produced 1,091 new deals signed
JUNE 2011 --> produced 988 new deals signed
JUNE 2010 --> produced 866 new deals signed
JUNE 2009 --> produced 1,148 new deals signed
It is ironic that June 2009 was the only year that outperformed this past month. The main reason for this is that deal volume in the months of Jan-May in 2009 was so anemic, that buyers finally jumped back into the market in June 2009 to start the 3+ year reflation to where we are today.
As for daily/weekly trends, the real-time market ticker is showing a slowdown from the highs in activity we saw back in May. This is both expected and normal for this time of year. Sellers will have to deal with a marketplace that simply has less fish biting at the lure. Buyers may have less buy-side competition to battle against, but they still find inventory levels quite low with few high quality options that are priced correctly.
There you have it, the mid-year Manhattan market report after what turned out to be a very strong start to 2012!