The big real estate brokerages released their 2008 4th quarter reports, and here's how the NY Times put it: "For those New Yorkers who wondered what the Manhattan real estate market might be like without the ever-rising bonuses of Wall Street’s elite, the answer is now emerging: an abrupt decline in transactions, tottering prices and buyers who are still looking but unwilling to sign a contract. "

The Real Deal gives some context, "For the first time in 10 years -- with the exception of a brief blip in 2006 -- the median price of resale apartments fell from the prior year quarter," according to Jonathan Miller, of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, who prepared Prudential Douglas Elliman's Manhattan market report. He also told the Real Deal that market condition "were actually even worse than the reports show," because the number of signed contracts (not counted in the quarterlies) "has declined anywhere between 35 and 75 percent from the same period last year." Plus, contract prices showed a 20% decline last quarter. Miller told the Wall Street Journal, "The Manhattan market ... has clearly entered a new period of lower sales activity and overall declines in prices."

Streeteasy.com gave a bunch of grim stats to the Daily News: Resale prices are falling for condos (-9.5%) and co-ops (-5.2%), price cuts skyrocketed, and there were almost 20% more listings last quarter. Plus:

  • "These neighborhoods saw the most price cuts: Beekman (50.6% of listings cut prices), Manhattan Valley (45.7%), East Village (43.1%), Central Park South (41.9%), SoHo (41.7%)."
  • "These neighborhoods saw the deepest price cuts: Clinton (10.93% was the average discount), Tribeca (10.83%), Flatiron (10.35%), Central Harlem (8.58%), East Harlem (9.98%)"

Streeteasy VP of Research Sofia Kim said, "Buyers now have a 'wait and see' approach in buying real estate. We are hearing about 'all cash' deals being done with liquid buyers connecting with motivated sellers. The bottom line is that you need to offer a compelling deal for activity in this market."

Curbed breaks out details from the brokerages' reports. One thing to keep in mind: The average price of Manhattan sales is still pretty high and steady (around $1.5 million), thanks to high-end new luxury development sales.