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Manhattan prices movin’ on up

It’s not a boom yet, but the Manhattan real-estate market is coming back strong.

The average sales price of a Manhattan apartment hit $1,483,591 in the first quarter of the year, according to a report released today by Brown Harris Stevens. That’s up 9 percent compared with the same period last year.

The city’s economic rebound also helped push the average co-op sales price up 10 percent — to $1,181,715 — and the average condo price up 8 percent — to $1,889, 560, the highest level in three years.

“New York City’s recovery continues to best most predictions,” said BHS president Hall Willkie, “and this combined with a stable inventory of available apartments makes me optimistic about the coming months.”

The $1.48 million average price isn’t a record. The highest average for a Manhattan home was $1.69 million in early 2008.

The average bottomed out at $1.26 million in 2009 at the height of the crash and has been “crawling its way back up, with some back and forth” ever since, BHS analyst Greg Heym said.

The average was driven up by several high-end sales, including the $88 million sale at 15 Central Park West.

There were 17 properties that closed sales for more than $10 million in the latest quarter, compared with 12 last year, Heym noted.

But plummeting mortgage rates — and rising rents — also helped push people into the market for smaller apartments. Entry-level apartments — studios and 1 bedrooms — accounted for 56.2 percent of sales, the highest level in more than two years, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman.

“Buyers came back in force this quarter,” said Pam Liebman, CEO of The Corcoran Group.

“Yet even with all of the activity, New York buyers remain extremely savvy and refuse to overpay,” she said, “and unrealistic sellers who continue to overprice their apartments will see that they aren’t moving. There’s just no appetite for it.”

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