Leave it to the NY Times, to make a big, gloomy headline and then back it up with a hodgepodge of facts that don't necessarily back up the argument. While the headline "A Downturn Begins" is sensationalist, the numbers The Times uses are downright schizophrenic. The cover graphic is inconsistent- it cites condo prices for areas like the Upper East Side and Upper West Side (which were good) and condo and coop prices for Harlem and Midtown East (which were bad). Why not just compare apples with apples? Also, I don't think I've ever heard Turtle Bay called a "fringe area" before. While the Times tries to explain that numbers for an area like the UWS were skewed by 15 CPW closings, the article in general is off kilter.
Here is what is really going on in the market. Sales have slowed down. It is a buyer's market. Prices in prime areas of Manhattan have not changed appreciably, but there is much more negotiability and bidding wars are gone. In these prime areas, you are looking at 5-10% off the true peak numbers of a year ago. In real "fringe" areas, like Harlem, prices have contracted at a greater pace.
It may be news to the Times, but the real downturn began last November, and it was confirmed and reinforced by the Bear Stearns debacle in mid-March of this year. When you are just taking straight condos sales numbers, you are offering a backward looking, inaccurate assessment of the market. Most new condo closings reflect contracts that were signed 12-18 months ago.
NY Times Belatedly Calls Real Estate Downturn (NY Times)
Ex-Wives Do Their Part To Keep NY Real Estate Afloat (Observer)
National Weekly Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Prices And Inventory Continue Down In Major Metro Areas (PRWeb)
City Pays Through The Nose For Willets Point Property (NY Post)