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Will Manhattan's Real "Supply" Please Stand Up

Mon Jun 30th, 2014 02:47 PM

A: Boy oh boy oh boy. Its been a crazy month for anyone analyzing Manhattan residential real estate inventory stats due to the RLS outage that occurred end of May. You may see some vast differences amongst the major firms out there on statistics such as supply, contract activity/deal volume, and days on market (if DOM is pending sales based and not sales based). Most brokers can relate to this issue via receiving emails/calls for listings that have sold, are no longer active, or that have been in contract for months. The reason for that lies in this data issue that I have been discussing and dealing with. The live UD chart system is still exposed to this but our new dev site seems to have the issue under control now. Id like to share those charts so you see where we think supply is prior to the Q2 reports coming out.

Here is a snapshot of a Manhattan Supply Chart Since 2008 from our dev site:


Here is a snapshot of a Manhattan Supply Chart 1YR:


I really dont know what to expect when the big firms release #s in the coming days but I do know that many brokers that I have spoken to from different firms are reporting calls for old listings. That tells me their system was exposed to this issue. It comes down to how deep each firm digs into the issue and how they clean it out without ruining the good data. I feel its better to openly discuss this issue so that there are no false misinterpretations out there on trends.


When you break it down, the market did what it usually does this time of year --> slow down a bit!

We show Supply trends continuing down, Pending sales trends cooling down, and Days on Market trends slightly rising but still at very low levels.

My anecdotal opinion of the market
: Inventory is still very tight, buy side competition continues albeit at a slightly less frenzy pace from a month or two ago, and leverage continues to strongly favor sell side for quality well priced property. Price action may have dipped slightly in the SE Condo Index, but in my opinion it has not translated to any noticeable discounts for deals I see happening (or not happening) in the field.

Ill end this discussion by referencing one more chart from our site that is in beta (#s may chg slightly when we officially push site live) -- MANHATTAN DAYS ON MARKET SINCE 2008 which really shows you just how strong this market has got over the years and continues to be:


Phantom Surge in Supply from Data Feed Issue

Thu Jun 12th, 2014 07:21 AM

A: We are approaching the end of Q2 and I am getting many emails and calls about the recent surge in supply on the UrbanDigs Manhattan data system. I wrote about what happened a week ago when our data feed went down for 9 days at the end of May, but let me explain the phantom surge again and show you where I think we are in terms of Manhattan supply trends.

Here is a chart showing Manhattan Supply over the past 1YR:


The supply surge is clear in the past two weeks. The reason is because when our data feed got back online we received bulk file updates that contained many duplicate and old new listings with errors on the 'list date' field. That caused our system to add these as new supply when in fact they are not.

The UD system was engineered to "self-correct" for these types of data issues that tend to happen from time to time. The result is confusing as it is happening, like now, as it leads us to believe there was a huge spike in new supply. But over the course of 2-4 weeks the UD system will gradually remove all poisonous listings from our inventory charts -- we are starting to see this now as the big spike is starting to reverse course and come down.

To understand how our system works think of the cycle of a listing in Manhattan as a flow: from new listing --> to off mkt --> to back on mkt --> to in contract (pending) --> to sold/closed --> repeat cycle.

At all times, supply is a function of the pool of listings in Manhattan that are actively updated by the exclusive broker and the following:

-- PLUS, all new listings to hit the market today
-- MINUS, all active listings to enter contract (pending) today
-- MINUS, all active listings that are taken off the market
-- MINUS, all active listings that become stale due to lack of broker status updates
-- MINUS, all active listings that sold/closed via acris without the broker changing status to contract signed.

Add that all up and you have a dynamic system like the UD one to measure Manhattan supply. When our Rebny Listing Service feed (RLS) goes down, that cycle and flow is disrupted. When the feed comes back, issues like this can occur.


But it still needs time so we need to wait a few more weeks and then we will go back and try to remove the bad stuff manually and smooth out the chart.

I hope this helps to explain what is going on, why our system is doing what it is, and what we plan to do to resolve this. My apologies for the inconvenience and temporary distortion in Manhattan supply trends.


Tue Jun 10th, 2014 09:36 AM

A: I'm getting asked by so many buyers, readers, and colleagues if I think Manhattan real estate is in a bubble. Short answer: it's hard to be a bubble when mass lending is not occurring for the asset class and there is no major credit element at work. Instead, the buyer pool in general has grown substantially on the backs of 5+ year fed induced reflation surge that took equity markets up over 185%! With volatility non-existent and yields nowhere to be found, both consumers & investors are finding a haven in Manhattan real estate. Our new listings data shows that for years we have seen "less stuff" come onto the market, so the tight inventory we are experiencing today is a big piece of the foundation that has been causing this market do what it has been doing lately. Lets discuss.

I want to start out this discussion with some perspective. Take a look at this chart below that shows you the S&P 500 Since 1990 and take notice of the numbered items in the chart and the notes below:


First, let me say, wow. Definitely puts into perspective the central bank induced thrill ride over the past 15 years or so.

1. The dot com bubble & bust - The Greenspan era and his famous "irrational exuberence" speech. When the dot coms busted and the Nasdaq marketplace crashed, bringing everything else with it, Greenspan took the Fed Funds rate to 1% to stimulate an economic recovery.

2. The housing bubble & bust - Greenspan, along with wall street, deregulation and politicians, helped to create the housing bubble with their policies. Greenspan was at the helm until 2006, when Ben Bernanke took his place as the new fed chair. By that time the damage was in the system for years already and the wall street machine was about to break, causing the beginning phase of the largest credit crisis (UD writings here from 2007-2009) since the Great Depression.

3. ---The Next Bubble??--- This story remains unwritten at the moment. The carry trade continues as the EU is the latest to extend extremely accomodative policies to stimulate inflation. The result is a continuation of the carry trade that started with US central bank policies in 2008 to present.

4. So, How Much is S&P500 Up Since 2009 Bottom? - The answer is approximately 185%! Let me repeat that, since the height of fear in March of 2009 (which was the bottom of the Manhattan market as well), the S&P500 has risen 185% to get to where we are today. The Nasdaq is up over 210% from its March '09 lows. Translate that to Manhattan real estate over the last 4+ years.

The StreetEasy Index puts the bottom of the Manhattan market in early 2010 - which is expected with a sales based, lagging price action index. For the real time bottom for the Manhattan market we need to look at deal volume/contract activity trends. This data will show that those who signed a contract in Jan/Feb/March of 2009 are the ones to get the bottom; when deal volume was at its lowest & fear levels at their highest.

Which begs the question on all our minds -- How much has Manhattan risen since the bottom and where are we now?

The answer is not +185% like equities have seen. Rather, the avg price action trend is probably closer to this:

Since the March lows in 2009 -- prob up somewhere between 40%-50%
Since June 2010 (4yrs ago) -- prob up somewhere between 30%-35%
Since June 2011 (3yrs ago) -- prob up somewhere between 27%-30%
Since June 2012 (2yrs ago) -- prob up somewhere between 20%-25%
Since June 2013 (1yr ago) -- prob up somewhere between 12%-15%

**Always remember that Manhattan is highly segmented and each building is it's own little marketplace. When pricing a property its always best to stay in-building and focus on relative comps trends over time.

This is NOT really bubble territory considering the move in equities over the same periods of time - especially since the '09 lows!

Bottom line --> As long as volatility is non-existent, fear nowhere to be found, and equity/bond markets reacting accordingly to very accomodative central bank policies, the Manhattan up-trend will continue. I don't think it's a bubble because the masses are not involved and there is no explosion in new credit and new lending facilities/options -- those elements are critical when defining a bubble. Manhattan is tied to wall street right now and until some external force disrupts The Great Reflation, there will be little reasons for buyers to have fear. Until there is a reason for buyers to pause out of concern for something, Manhattan will likely continue to track annual gains seen in equity markets. That's the key point. In the end it's all about the buyers and their bids.

I hope the stock chart above helps to put where we are into perspective. It certainly has the makings of a 3rd mountain peak that is yet to see its fall from grace. But from this former trader's point of view, it seems that stock markets are about to "pop" one more time. Perhaps it will be the 'last hurrah'? I don't know. But it feels like a quick surge is coming. If it happens I think it may very well mark the end to the Great Reflation and give us that 20% correction that has not been seen in years. But that may be from notably higher levels than we see today. There are very few reasons to be short right now other than a 'its got to end soon' argument. Lets see how things play out.

For buyers of Manhattan real estate, its been long enough now that chances are high you will be buying a property from someone who bought it in the past 5 years or so. For many, seeing the profit that the seller is about to get can make your stomach turn. Well, try to get over that. The market is what it is and Im trying to report on it with a combination of local Manhattan real estate data and whats going on in the outer macro world.

If someone paid $2M for a high end classic 6 in 2009, you can expect them to ask at least 50% more in todays market and probably get very close to it! You can NOT compare todays market to that of 2009 or 2010 at all! These are completely different times with 180 degree moves in the perception of fear about investments and the banking system as a whole. So if you find it difficult to 'give a seller so much of an appreciation' over such short of a time, consider this:

-- Equities are up 185%+ over the past 5+ years since the '09 lows
-- Manhattan has become a utility driven marketplace with leverage strongly favoring sell side
-- The growth of the buyer pool has significantly outpaced supply trends over the past few years
-- With volatility and fear non-existent, buyers tend to be more euphoric/complacent about their investments/purchases.
-- Finally, it's not about your feelings on giving someone else profits for a nice trade! It's about the market, how the bldg and comps are trading, and most importantly what the market is able to produce right now!

My closing line should be that until things change, Manhattan continues to be very tough on buyers.

Data Feed Down, System Correcting Now

Thu Jun 5th, 2014 07:04 AM

Our RLS data feed that powers the UD charts system went down for 9 days at the end of May, resulting in no new data feeding our system. The feed came back online Friday May 30th and files that we have received since them contain updates both for realtime and the 9 days that the feed was down. The result is a spike as the system gets caught up.

This happened in early Jan and our response flow will be the same, which is:

1. Wait for all new files to come in and the system to normalize. Probably 2 weeks since the feed came back up, which means we should wait until mid June.

2. Our charts should self-correct over the course of the next 2-3 weeks. We built this system knowing that there was the chance of data outages like this. In the end, we just have to deal with each occurrence individually as our system corrects itself over time.

3. Once the 'missed files' seem to be all caught up we will go back and attempt to smooth out the chart from the period when the feed went down to the period of surge when the feed came back online and backfilled missing data.

We are in step 1 now but UD users are noticing and emailing me. So I wanted to explain.

Right now we are putting the finishing touches on an entirely new UD Manhattan data system. It will be night and day and a complete relaunch and redesign of all site pages. Once we push the site live we will work on backup systems so in the event this happens again in the future we have a backup ready to kick in.

I just want everyone who uses & reads this site to understand what the issue is and how we are going about resolving it. Cheers!

Spring Fever

Thu May 15th, 2014 10:21 AM

Wow, what a spring. Manhattan continues to push higher as supply shows no sign of surging anytime soon. Yes we have seen an uptick of supply over the past few months but it's a full on utility squeeze as buyers who need are forced to bid aggressively to get the best of what inventory has to offer today. Lets discuss.

In the field we're starting to notice buyer fatigue, as yesterday's price range can no longer afford today's listings. Many are simply taking a break from the market - they've either found other opportunities outside Manhattan or are willing to sit on the sidelines as bids are chased and offers lifted. The buyers who are still searching are becoming battle hardened, and are ready to pounce immediately after one OH viewing, as they've already seen everything else, have lost a couple bidding wars and are ready to go.

"How long can this environment last?" is a question we hear early and often from our buyer client base. How else can I respond to this other than in this manner, "...as long as credit markets & equities don't deteriorate, and both are generally tied together, there will be little to no fear in the minds of buyers out there in Manhattan". That is what its all about here. Fear. Or lack there of. Fear simply doesn't exist if you look at the traffic jam of bids out there for quality, reasonably priced property.

Sellers continue to be in full control as buyers adapt by sweetening their deals; usually by putting more money down and/or removing the financing contingency to get an edge. Buyers who borderline can pass a coop board and insist on keeping that financing contingency in place will be passed over rather quickly for the top products out there. Not out of disrespect of course, rather, the market is simply producing much higher quality offers for sellers to choose from. Its gotten so bad in some situations that sellers will refuse a full ask offer if the buyer does not agree to remove the financing contingency. Crazy. It is what it is and the market will continue this way until something triggers a pause in the mindset of the buyers.

Let me show you. Here is a snapshot of one of the new UD tools that will launch soon and shows 6-MONTH SALES TRENDS @ THE ORION CONDOMINUM - 350 West 42nd Street:


Two things to notice on the 12 sales in this building that closed in the last 6 months:

1. The Median Days on Market of '25 days' for the eleven 1bed/1bath sales in past 6 months and only '24 days' for the one 2bed/2bath sale. Days on Market is one of the very telling data-points of todays market strength. Usually this # is in the 90-110 range.

2. The AVG % Listing Discount from Original Ask is positive meaning these sales on average traded ABOVE ASK! The 2bed/2bth sale sold 9.6% ABOVE ASK.

We are finding this trend across most full service buildings in desired locations. But these new tools really do allow you to see how every building trades in its own unique way -- a great vertical market toolkit and I cant wait to push the new site live for everyone!

Occasionally we will find some hidden values for clients but more often than not, we're finding listing prices that assume a continuation of the trend - pricing in current fair market plus a 4%-5% premium. Remember today's sales prices & trends are a reflection of the market 4-5 months ago so there is always a TIME adjustment element at play here to bridge that gap to realtime field conditions.

Our advice to buyers lately is 'be prepared' and to understand the dynamic that they will likely soon experience. Yes you can find a great property but expect buy side competition if that asking price is not ridiculously overpriced. Due to continued tight inventory trends it shouldn't take long for you to determine which products (a) work for your needs and (b) have the most desired attributes. So, when you do find a property that fits the bill you should act fast and present strong. Some quick tips:

1. SEE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN RIGHT AWAY -- Sunday OHs are the quickest and easiest way to see 4-6 places in a two hour period. If you are a serious buyer especially one with a time pressure, cancel your Sunday plans and get your a$$ out to see your most desired apartments. Gaining product knowledge early will allow you to know instantly if a new listing works for you, allowing for a "quick pounce" bidding strategy. Keep in mind, the people you encounter at OHs are probably seeing the same apartments you have and are bidding accordingly.

2. BE PREPARED -- Have your attorney selected and ready, have your financial statement #s updated, and have your lender ready to get you a custom pre-approval & building "approved list" confirmation if you are considering removing financing contingency to sweeten your offer. Don't wait to find an apartment that is perfect to gather all these items. Time is a deal killer in this kind of market so if you do get the place you want early in its listing history, the clock now starts to get that deal signed!

-- In Manhattan, a mostly co-op marketplace, bid quality counts and sellers want to see high liquid reserves! Buyers who are "liquid strong" should consider putting more money down to lessen the perceived risks from seller on the deal closing. It won't trump 'the #' by much, but it will make your offer look much stronger especially if your offer is contingent upon financing.

4. DEALS ARE HAPPENING AT/ABOVE ASK -- Buyers should go into this process knowing that they likely will have to change the aggressiveness of their bidding strategy. When I launch my new tools you will be able to see how Building Trends are showing listing discounts ABOVE the asking price. Its really cool to see, yet frustrating for buyers out there. But its added transparency for this very fast paced market and with each new closed record sale, a new barometer is set and a new seller tests for a new threshold. What can I say? The market continues to produce these strong bids and has been for a while. Its because buyers are bidding on utility and to beat out the competition they are submitting "gap up" bids. Find your comfort zone via comps reports, expect a 4%-5% crazy market premium in todays market, and present strong right off the bat. Put a deadline on it if you have to but don't give the seller a reason to wait for more offers. If the asking price is justified, go in at full ask off the bat. The best outcome is a private, 1-on-1 negotiation with the seller as potential buyers are told "a full ask offer is in" by the listing broker.

5. FOR SELLERS -- Understand that there is no better market than todays to listen to when it comes to gauging your pricing strategy! If you have a high quality apt and you are priced right, be prepared for offers to come in rather quickly! If you had 30+ people in to view your apt with zero offers, I would check that price of yours again as the market is telling you its a bit high. I say this often: If your apt isnt selling its either a MARKET problem, a PRODUCT problem, or a PRICE problem. Well, its not the market I can tell you that so only can you determine if its the quality of the apt your offering or your asking price is too high. Listen to what the market is telling you in those cases.

Cheers all. Next time I write something it will be on the NEW URBANDIGS.com!! I cant wait to share what I have spent 9+ years visualizing, conceptualizing, and building. This current site was just a launching pad. I think the market will DIG IT!

RELATED: The Real Deal's "All-cash Manhattan deals closer to 45%: Miller Samuel"

Maintenance for JAN Monthly Charts

Thu Mar 13th, 2014 09:14 AM

A: Just an update after data maintenance with our vendor occurred in late January into early February. Our systems have since normalized, however, we need to look deeper into January's surge of Manhattan Monthly Contract Activity & Monthly New Supply - both are subscription charts. After we investigate I will post an update on whether a revision to the January monthly data was needed.

Cracks in the Foundation? Equities Selling Off - Volatility Rises

Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 04:33 PM

A: Its been a while since there has been a reason for me to write something other than "equities continue to rise & so does Manhattan real estate" stories. Lets face it, in this fed engineered environment for the past few years volatility was non existent. This translated into a "risk on" mentality and utter lack of fear in the Manhattan marketplace. But looking at the markets 'unglueing' over the past week or so, could there be some cracks in the foundation?

For the past year or so this market has experienced a lack of "1-on-1" negotiations amidst a very tight inventory crunch. In its simplest terms, there has been too much demand chasing too few quality properties out there in Manhattan.

Buyers had to get very aggressive to win deals and in multiple offer situations, it isn't hard for one very interested buyer to "gap up" their bid to win out. I already know of a few pending deals from a few weeks ago that will blow away some brokers/consumers once the deal closes and becomes public record. The first few weeks of January 2014 is reminding me of the peak back in May last year. But things could very easily change over the near term.

As I often say here on UD, its all about the buyers ('the bids')! When the bids pause, its up to the market to adapt and right now I am telling you that sellers have nothing but incredibly strong comparable sales to base future price expectations on. I wonder if a gap will open up between bid & ask if equities & credit continue their current selloff.

Here is what has happened in the past week or so:

-- Equity markets are roughly 5%+ off their peak highs
-- VIX (volatility index) surges; Emerging Markets VIX sells off most in 2 years
-- Credit Spreads starting to widen

Putting aside what is causing this (who the heck really knows anyway, we could simply be selling off after a ridiculous reflation for the past 4+ years), lets discuss the dangers here.

Now, one week won't impact Manhattan markets unless some kind of surprise event akin to Lehman failing occurs and kicks off a much more aggressive deterioration in markets. I mean, if volatility comes down tomorrow and equity indexes just muddle around these new lower levels, I don't see Manhattan real estate being impacted by recent events. However, what we have to watch out for is whether this current selloff starts deepening and feeding on itself.

Its something to start watching for one reason alone --> all it takes is continued rising uncertainty to put a bit of pause in buyer's bids . There is no quicker way to insert uncertainty & pause in a buyers mind than (a) a fierce selloff in equities + (b) a surge in volatility indexes + (c) widening of credit spreads which might indicate more weakness is yet to be priced into equities. All of which seem to be occurring to some degree.

Its all about the bids. Lets face it, for over a year now sellers have been tapping what seems to be an endless well of aggressive buyers with tons of cash! A long enough time for brokers/buyers/sellers to adapt and change their expectations.

Should this credit/equity selloff continue it would be hard to imagine buyers not being impacted and being the first to update their expectations.

It starts with rising uncertainty and real reasons for buyer confidence to fall --> that leads to less aggressive bids and a shrinking of the buyer pool (some buyers decide to wait) --> dropping deal volume will be the first sign of trouble when compared to historical averages for that month --> sellers will have to adapt until either bids come back or their price expectation falls to meet the new market.

There is a cycle to this madness and if equities reach full correction territory, I am sure the media will amplify the affect and quicken the cycle. The psychology of asset cycles tells us that down cycles often feed on themselves changing euphoria very quickly into anxiety, then denial, then fear, then panic, and then depression.

TheRealDeal posted its 2014 Predictions story and I was quoted saying this:
"The warning signs will likely first appear in credit spreads and then equities and bond markets will react. That's how it started last time, in 2007, so that is where I'll be looking again. The hard part is figuring out whether a minor blip is just that, a blip on a longer-term positive trend line, or if it's a true warning of some bigger event."
I didnt think it would happen this quickly but I find myself right now in that position wondering if this selloff is another "blip on the longer term trend line" or "a true warning sign of a bigger event".

Lets keep our eyes peeled and watch credit for an indication if this selloff has legs or not. In the meantime I will report if there is meaningful change in what I see in the field or in the Manhattan data coming in.

Data Feed Maintenance

Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 10:38 AM

We got some data feed maintenance that is going on right now with our RLS vendor. Our Daily Ticker and supply/pending #s will be 'lower' for a few days until this is finished. Once finished, the UD system will auto-correct itself over the next week or so for the few days of incoming data missed due to maintenance.

Reflecting on Manhattan's Record 2013 Performance

Tue Dec 17th, 2013 02:44 PM

A: As I look back on 2013 phrases like "a lack of fear in the market", "multiple offers in", "record pace of deal volume", "inventory shortage", "is this contingent upon financing", come to mind. All of which favor sell side. But does the data back that up? This post will cover my thoughts on what happened in 2013 as well as some stats that the UD system provides.

I would describe 2013 as a combination of two other markets I experienced when I first began my real estate career. In early 2005, I recall a much different Manhattan market before the condo boom began and before Streeteasy.com existed. These were the days when the NYTimes ad generated listings systems ruled the day. Transparency was non existent and the reason I founded UrbanDigs.com and built the Manhattan tracking system we provide for the brokerage industry.

Inventory in early 2005 was dull to say the least. Supply was tight, barely anything good came on with any consistency and brokers couldn't wait for more planned developments to start sending out their offerings so we could kickstart frustrated buyer clients and 'get our buyers in first'. A sense of urgency began in 2005, that sense strengthened in 2006 and ultimately peaked in 2007.

It was the early stages of a 2+ year condo boom. Developers would take advantage by scaling back new units and release only batches of apartments at a time; a few 1brs, a few 2brs and a few 3brs would consist of a typical batch. They would sell like hot cakes and the sponsor would then file an amendment with the attorney general and release a new batch of units at a higher price level. Buyers quickly learned how aggressive they needed to be and what would happen if they wait it out. This situation continued for most of 2006 and ultimately peaked in 2007 which saw record levels of deal volume.

I would describe Manhattan's 2013 as a combination of 2005's tight supply and 2007's record pace of deal volume & buy-side sense of urgency; that's how crazy it has been in the field this year.

To me it seems that 2013 saw Manhattan prices rise approximately 11% to 14% or so from a year ago.

Looking ahead to 2014, I have trouble seeing the pace of deal volume or such strong price action sustaining itself. I would expect to see prices rise at a slower clip; perhaps in the 4% to 7% range for 2014.

The only thing that stops it will be a sustained disruption in credit that causes spreads to blowout and fear levels to rise; usually this is accompanied by falling stock prices, rising bonds and a rising US dollar as money seeks safety. If this should occur, all bets are off as deal volume would plummet with buyers pausing and/or going to the sidelines. One thing I learned from late 2008/early 2009 after Lehman failed is: first the bids withdraw, then the bids adjust lower & price in future risks, then sellers deny it, then sellers accept it, and only then will deals start to happen again. In the end its all about the buyers and their confidence in Manhattan property. UD systems will tell me in realtime if there is any disruption in deal volume trends in the field.

Now, Back to Manhattan & The Data!

A few basic but key stats regarding Manhattan's Production Levels in 2013:

, from 4,476 units to 3,876 units on the market today

-- MANHATTAN PENDING SALES (the pool of listings in contract/awaiting closing) ROSE 16.4%, from 2,342 units in contract to 2,726 units in contract today

-- MANHATTAN ON PACE TO PUT 13,400 UNITS INTO CONTRACT IN 2013, for perspective that is about 2,000 more units signed into contract than all of 2012

, for perspective that is about 1,200 more units than we saw in all of 2012. This is the first time in 4 years that we saw an annual tick up in new supply. A good sign, but this market still needs a lot more supply month after month to normalize and shift leverage away from sell-side.

, *this chart is still in beta on our development site, but confirms all other datasets and what we have been seeing in the field with our buyer clients.


Finally a quick look at the neighborhoods across the city that saw the strongest pending sales trends throughout the year: Manhattan's BIGGEST % GAINERS FOR PENDING SALES LIST OF 2013 (below 96th -- subscription required for chart link):

FiDi: +50%
Murray Hill/Kips Bay: +45.1%
Chelsea/Midtown South: +40.1%
Midtown East: +38.8%
Tribeca: +28.9%
Gramercy/Flatiron: +25%
============ MANHATTAN BASELINE PENDING SALES +16.2% =================
LES/E. Village: +12.8%
Midtown West/Clinton: +12.3%
Upper West Side: +12.3%
Battery Park City: +11.8%
Upper East Side: +9.2%
SoHo/NoHo/W. Village
: +1%

Got to stop it here as Im swamped working on the next version of UD! Wishing everyone a Happy Holidays and a very safe and healthy New Year!! See you in 2014 when exciting new tools will be released!

Manhattan Continuing to Seasonally Outproduce

Thu Oct 24th, 2013 10:56 AM

A: I say outproduce and not outperform because there is a difference between deal volume out there today and lagging price action. In terms of volume, Manhattan continues to produce at very high levels with October monthly contract activity on pace to come in 30% higher than the average for this time of the year. Meanwhile, price action is likely peaking right now as deals signed in May, June, and July finally close and get counted in the SE Condo Index. I would expect the rising pace of the SE Condo Index since 2011 or so to start to quell, and perhaps fall a bit over the next 4-6 months. This thinking is more a function of the new pipeline that is yet to close not being as 'potent' as was the pipeline when contract activity peaked in May & June. Remember, sales data will always be 4-6 months or so delayed and will therefore be a 'rear-view' mirror look as to how Manhattan was producing 1-2 quarters ago. Lets discuss.

While deal volume continues to come in at very strong levels, my expectations for continue rising price action are dwindling. Currently the SE Index is at 2,175 and at its highest point since mid 2008:


With the SE Index currently at 2,175, I expect maybe one more month of positive appreciation before giving some of the recent gains back due to normal market forces.

As for UrbanDigs data on Manhattan Contract Activity (deal volume -- the best indication we have for the pace of new demand), here is a chart since 2009 with an estimate on October's soon to be published production levels using the 30-day "contract signed" trend on the UD daily market ticker:


So what do we know?

-- Manhattan Contract Activity peaked in May -- we are currently producing at a level 33% lower than in May, 2013

-- Manhattan Pending Sales currently stands +13% higher than exactly 1 year ago

-- Manhattan Active Supply currently stands -25% lower than exactly 1 year ago

-- Manhattan Price Action, as defined by the SE Condo Index, follows this flow:
Since August 2008 --> +1%
Since August 2009 --> +20%
Since August 2010 --> +14%
Since August 2011 --> +14%
Since August 2012 --> +10%

Using the UrbanDigs realtime inventory chart system, I would tweak this price action flow to be more like this:

-- Manhattan Price Action, as defined by me and the UD system, follows this flow:
Since August 2008 --> +5%
Since August 2009 --> +25%
Since August 2010 --> +18%
Since August 2011 --> +15%
Since August 2012 --> +10%

This is how I would adjust for time if I found very relevant comparable sales that happen to be a few years old; using the SE Index as the main guide.

Perhaps the most telling chart is one that will be released on the new UrbanDigs system, set to launch in early 2014. Take a peek at this Manhattan Days on Market chart -- 1 Year:

Manhattan Days on Market trend over past 1 year is down 71%, to only 29 days!!

Put simply, Manhattan is producing at a very high level given continued tight supply; although the 'frenzy' of May/June has died down. A fast declining "Days on Market" chart is another confirmation of the continued leverage shift to the sell-side in todays market. Which leaves the great unknown: PRICING!

Manhattan is a vertical, highly segmented marketplace of different price points & property types; in the end every building acts like its own little unique marketplace and buyers will perceive unit features/views very differently. The best way for sellers to screw up is to overprice and then NOT listen to what the market is saying when traffic/bids are light!

When something doesn't sell its one of three things that is the likely cause:

a) either the unit has undesirable features, or
b) the market is the problem, or
c) the price is the problem

It should be fairly clear if the reason is item (a) above. I'm here to tell you it certainly is not item (b), and hopefully presented enough data in today's post to justify that conclusion. Which leaves item (c), pricing!

Quick note on brokers or buyers dealing with unrealistic sellers when the comps are so clear
: Sellers with unrealistic prices that ignore real bids, are simply not true sellers at this current point in time. Its ok, it happens and at all times we should expect a small portion of total supply to consist of these kinds of sellers. In the end, the seller needs to be ready to move at a price the market dictates and has to ultimately execute that contract! Sometimes they need to go through this process in their own way, to know for sure they tried to get the highest & best price possible.