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Manhattan median home price falls to below US$1m

New York

MANHATTAN home prices fell in the fourth quarter, with the median slipping to less than US$1 million for the first time in three years, as ample inventory continued to allow buyers to demand sweeter deals.

Condo and co-op prices declined to US$999,000 in the three months through December 2018, a drop of 5.8 per cent from a year earlier, appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate said in a report on Thursday.

Many apartments were sold for less than sellers originally sought, with an average discount of 6.2 per cent from the last list price. That's up from price cuts of 5.4 per cent a year earlier. It was the first time the median was less than US$1 million since the third quarter of 2015, when it was US$998,000.

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The price decline is largely the result of shoppers having options. The inventory of existing homes on the market was up 17 per cent from a year earlier. That has given buyers greater negotiating power, and left sellers with no choice but to cut overly optimistic listing prices if they want to move properties.

"We had a number of cases where a lot of people came back for second and third visits, and never made an offer, and it's totally and completely tied to pricing," Steven James, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman's New York City division, said.

"Many sellers still have not gotten the message. I think many more sellers in 2018 got the message, and those who got the message sold," he added. BLOOMBERG