Housing Slump? Not in Manhattan

Miami, once home to real estate speculators and now a lot of empty condos, had the biggest drop of the 20 markets surveyed. There, home prices fell 12.4 percent on average in October 2007 compared with October 2006. Tampa had a price drop of 11.8 percent. Economically challenged Detroit saw home prices decline by 11.2 percent.

Only Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., and Seattle showed any signs of price increases.

Even the New York metro area went down and other boroughs of New York City aren't faring so well. It is just Manhattan, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country, that is growing.

Heym, Halstead's economist, said there are several reasons why Manhattan is doing well.

First, there is not an abundant supply of available apartments. Those new apartments coming on to the market are getting swept up and Manhattan, after all, is an island and there is only so much land to build on.

Another key factor: the quirky nature of many buildings in the city. To live in many buildings, particularly co-ops, prospective owners need to go through a rigorous review by the building's board. This includes reviewing a buyer's finances.

Often these buildings require large down payments. Some exclusive properties on Park or Fifth Avenues even require that the entire cost of their multi-million dollar unit be paid in full, in cash. Others prohibit adjustable-rate mortgages that got buyers elsewhere in the country into trouble.

"Many people credited co-op boards with doing the work that lenders didn't do," Heym said.

Finally, many Europeans are buying high-end properties in Manhattan.

As the value of the dollar falls, property here is cheaper for them. Heym said they are not only buying more apartments but choosing larger, more expensive ones.

Still not convinced of what an anomaly some of these apartments are?

Consider this: A loft in Greenwich Village is on the market. It includes a private elevator, wood-burring fireplace, an 1,500-bottle wine room, steam-shower and a rooftop garden with an outdoor shower and kitchen. So what does this three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment go for?

A mere $9.25 million. And if you buy it, you will also have to pay $25,000 each year in maintenance fees.

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