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Manhattan home sales jump to 6-year high as rates spur rush

…Purchases of condominiums and co-ops surged 30 percent from a year earlier to 3,837, the second-biggest quarterly total in 24 years of record keeping, according to a report today from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The number of homes on the market at the end of September fell 22 percent from a year earlier to 4,567, the lowest since Miller Samuel began tracking the data 13 years ago.

An abrupt increase in mortgage rates tipped more buyers into the Manhattan market, where the supply was already tight, according to Jonathan Miller, president of New York-based Miller Samuel. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped from a near-record low of 3.35 percent in May to two-year high of 4.58 percent in August, according to Freddie Mac.

“Rising rates primed the pump in terms of people moving sooner rather than later,” Miller said in an interview. “The fact that it spiked, as opposed to a gradual increase, really drew people in.”

The pool of available homes is shrinking as owners who bought during the boom and then saw values plummet in the crash wait to list their properties until they’ve recovered enough equity to justify a sale, according to Miller. New supply is limited as developers hampered by the credit crisis only recently revived projects and are largely focused on building ultra-luxury condos.

Buyers are rushing to get what remains, shortening the amount of time it takes sell a property in Manhattan to 88 days, a 54 percent drop from a year earlier, according to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. Purchasers agreed to pay the asking price or more in 44 percent of deals in the third quarter, the largest share in five years…

Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman reported a 2 percent drop in the median price to $872,000 as a majority of sales in the quarter were of smaller studio and one-bedroom apartments. The share of one-bedroom purchases was 41 percent, the highest in 15 years, suggesting an influx of first-time buyers racing against rising borrowing costs, Miller said.

Listings for luxury apartments, the top 10 percent of all sales by price, didn’t decline as sharply as owners were inspired to test the market after record prices paid for co-ops and condos in 2012, Miller said. Luxury listings declined 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 1,107, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said, while the median price of completed deals climbed 0.8 percent to $4.1 million…

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