In his hunt for an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hal Walker found the perfect one-bedroom in an Art Deco building across from Central Park. It had languished on the market for almost six months.
Walker bid $30,000 below the $865,000 asking price, then refused the seller’s counteroffer. Yet he’s moving in next week.
“Would you lose sleep tonight if you lost this apartment?” Walker recalled his broker asking. “I said no.”
Manhattan homebuyers are getting bolder these days, demanding bargains or walking away from deals in a market where inventory is swelling. In the three months through June, purchases fell 17 percent from a year earlier to 2,629, according to a report Tuesday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. That was the lowest tally for a second quarter since 2009, when the global recession chilled deals.
Of the sales that were completed in the quarter, 54 percent were for less than the asking price. Another 37 percent of transactions closed at the asking price, but often that figure had already been reduced. Combined, the share of purchases without a premium was the biggest since the end of 2012.
“It’s about perception — that the market went way up, and it went way up real fast, and it’s not happening anymore, and I am not going to be the fool who gets burned by overpaying,” said Steven James, Douglas Elliman’s chief executive officer for New York City. Buyers “do believe that over time, the market will go up, but it’s not going up right now.”
The median price for all homes that changed hands in the quarter dropped 7.5 percent to $1.1 million, the second consecutive year-over-year decline, the firms said. There were 6,985 homes listed for sale at the end of June, up 11 percent from a year earlier and the most for a second quarter since 2011 as properties came to the market faster than buyers closed deals.
“‘We are in a price correction, there’s no doubt about that,” said Hall Willkie, co-president of brokerage Brown Harris Stevens. “Buyers are very resistant to paying anything that isn’t justified.”
Price-sensitive shoppers are looking at recent sales within a building, not as a gauge for what to pay, but as a barometer for how much below that they should bid, Willkie said.