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Where Homes Far the Best


If you live in Flushing or Bayside or Bay Ridge, you are used to yawning at news of the triumphs and excess of the Manhattan luxury market.

But now owners in the other boroughs have reason to cheer: Despite sales declines across New York City, median prices for homes in the rest of the city held up better than they did in Manhattan in the fourth quarter, according to new sales figures.

 In Brooklyn and the Bronx, median prices rose slightly in the final quarter of 2011 compared with the year-earlier period, and they were off 4.8% in Queens and 5.2% in Staten Island.

But median prices in Manhattan, including co-ops, condos and a small number of townhouse sales, dropped 8.5% to $750,000 during the latest period, according to the report from the Real Estate Board of New York.

Sales fell in every borough in the fourth quarter from the year-earlier period and were down even more from the 2011 third quarter. Overall sales in the fourth quarter were down 12% from the year-earlier period.

Total spending on homes fell by nearly 20% last quarter in Manhattan, compared with drops of 9.6% in Brooklyn and 12.9% in Queens. The report attributed the sales slump to “economic and financial unease over the past several months.”

Michael Slattery, senior vice president at the board, said that the Manhattan market bounced back strongly earlier last year, while other markets lagged because they were “more sensitive to economic forces and continued to feel the effects of the recession.”

He attributed the shrinking Manhattan sales and prices last quarter to a slowdown in expensive new condominium sales, after buyers “burned through a lot of new development inventory.”

Bob Maguire, a broker at John A. Maguire Real Estate in Bay Ridge, said “a lull” in sales in the area late last year has been followed by a spurt in sales lately.

“Lowe and behold, a few days after Christmas, the cows came out the barn,” he said.

In the first 10 days of this year, Mr. Maguire said his firm found buyers for four houses, listed between about $750,000 and $2.1 million.

One property on 91st Street has lingered on the market since last summer, but suddenly had three bidders in the last few days, he said.

The buyer of another house listed for nearly $2.2 million on 76th Street planned to put down $1.1 million in cash on the house to close the deal, he said.

The lull in Manhattan sales were documented in a series of market reports released last week, but the Real Estate Board’s report is the first snapshot of activity in the rest of the city.

Unlike the other reports, the report from the board tabulates all deeds based on the date they were filed, rather than the date they closed. As a result, the board’s report includes hundreds of deals that were filed in one quarter, but closed during the next one. The report estimated citywide sales in the fourth quarter totaled $5.41 billion, off 16.9% from the year-earlier quarter.

Total Manhattan sales, hard hit by falling condo deals, fell to $2.96 billion last quarter from $3.69 billion in the year-earlier period.

Though condominiums are a smaller share of the market outside Manhattan, the other boroughs showed a steep decline in sale of condominiums there as well.

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