The newspapers and online blogs mostly cover the ultra luxury market and their supposed glut or balanced inventory depending on which report you believe. However, the starter apartment market is very low on inventory right now and there isn’t any relief in site. The only exception is apartments with very high carrying charges. Typically, first time buyers are more concerned with monthly payments than the more affluent neighbors.
For example two years ago, I sold a studio condo in 400 Central Park west aka Park West Village for $555k. It was a north facing apartment of about 540 sqft. Now the same apartments are asking at least $700k. That’s a 20% increase in less than 2 years. Currently, I have several buyers who are searching for property under $1 million and the competition is intense with areas like Upper Manhattan seeing a lot of interest and appreciation.
In Harlem’s 68 Bradhurst avenue, a condo that sits at the corner of 145th street and Bradhurst avenue in front of Jackie Robinson Park, prices for 2bd/2ba apartments 2 years ago ranged from $495k to $610k. Currently availabilities for the same size apartment range from $720k to $795k with 2 of the 3 apartments already in contract. That’s a 40% increase in 2 years!
So what does a buyer do who is looking for the first apartment amid this sea of competition? Here’s a couple suggestions.
1- Have a pre approval in hand while you are searching
2- Have a filled in financial statement as well.
3- A short bio about yourselves with a photo can help your offer to stand out instead of just being one in the pile.
4- Find an excellent buyer broker who will search for property for you that is not yet in the market. Off market deals can reduce/eliminate competition.
5- Be ready to put in an offer quickly.
6- Consider a co-op if your financials support it. Co-ops due to their requirements and restrictions on subletting typically have less competition than condos but it depends on location,price and building.
7- Consider a fixer upper or a fringe area. Many buyers do not have the vision to see what can be done with an apartment or how an area might improve. In 2006, I sold a fixer upper SRO in Harlem for $425k that is now worth easily $1.6 million and it still has not been fixed up!