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Manhattan sky high: average apartment hits $1m

Bill and Joan, not their real names, are not having quick success in their quest to buy a new flat in Manhattan. They recently moved in together but cannot stay in their current Chelsea apartment because it is too small. So, with a budget of up to $3m (£1.7m), they are hunting for something else.

That may be a chunk of change. But this is Manhattan, where, a new study shows, the average price of flats for sale has, for the first time, broken the $1m mark. And many are one-bedroom affairs.

The exorbitant cost of buying means that less than one third of Manhattanites own their home. The report, by Miller Samuel, an appraising firm, showed that in the quarter ending 30 June, the average price of flats had also surpassed $786 per square foot.

"When you buy in New York City you are buying a way of life," Jacky Teplitzky, a broker for properties on Manhattan's Upper East Side, said. "Some people are willing to pay to be in the heart of things."

Prices are also being driven up by other factors, including low interest rates, the impact of high Wall Street bonuses at the end of last year and a chronic shortage of inventory.

The less-than-mega-wealthy should steer clear of the Upper West Side, where, according to the Real Estate Board of New York, prices are rising the fastest. The mean price for a condominium apartment on the West Side rose 48 per cent, compared with last year, to reach $1.3m.

This could mean focusing on downtown areas of Manhattan, such as Tribeca and the financial district. They offer some relief from the uptown madness, with the mean price at $669,000. The really frugal - and adventurous - will head into Harlem where the average is still only $338,000.

But once you have put your feet in the Manhattan market, you might quickly wonder why you did, even as a renter. Nearly half of all renting households in New York pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent and domestic bills. And one out of four pays more than half of their income.

For newcomers to the city, meanwhile, who may be used to space in the Midwest or Deep South, the shock is unpleasant. "The worst thing is when you get people coming from somewhere else in the country and saying they have already bought and sold seven or eight times," Tom Cooper, a broker with the Douglas Elliman estate agency, said yesterday. "Believe me, until they've experienced Manhattan they haven't done it".

This week Mr Cooper showed Bill and Joan a penthouse with about 2,500 square feet in a Chelsea high-rise with great views and a wrap-around balcony. The price: $3m. But they were not buying. The decor was 10 years old, there was cat hair everywhere and the kitchen was not their style. "For that price, they were not prepared to scrub," Mr Cooper said. And he couldn't blame them.

 

 

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THE JACKY TEPLITZKY  TEAM

THE JACKY TEPLITZKY TEAM

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