NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Manhattan, New York second quarter 2010 market reports are out showing positive signs by all metrics. Prices increased slightly, days-on-market decreased and transactions increased. This is driven by low mortgage rates, good deals, increased consumer confidence and the first time homebuyer credit.

Report Summary

Median price for the second quarter, according to Miller Samuel Appraisers, is $899,000, a 3.6% increase compared to the first quarter and 7.6% increase compared to last year.

It is more realistic to say that prices have stabilized rather than risen because there has been a larger proportion of larger apartments that transacted.

Average price per square foot is now at $1,051, a slight 1.2% increase over first quarter and flat compared to last year.

Transactions increased to 2,756 units, a 16% increase compared to the first quarter and a whopping 80% increase compared to last year. Transactions are also now in line with the 10-year average for second quarter sales.

Days-on-market is now at 105 days, 16% less than the 124 days of the first quarter and 35% less than the 162 days from last year.

These second quarter closings, which reflect transactions entered into during the first quarter, shows that the market has turned for the better. But prices are definitely lower than during the peak. For example, median price was $1.025 million during spring of 2008, compared to $899,000 this quarter, reflecting a 13% decrease.

Drivers:

Drivers of the improvement are low interest rates, good prices and to a lesser extent, the first time homebuyer credit.

The impact of the homebuyer credit, at $8,000, has a much lower impact on buyers of Manhattan property relative to the average U.S. buyer. This is because of the high price point of almost $900,000. In context, the average U.S. home is priced at less than $200,000.

Outlook

The above shows that compared to the pessimistic market of 2009, the Manhattan market has turned and is showing positive signs by all metrics. I do not expect a V shaped recovery, nor should anyone when it comes to real estate. Rather, a gradual and realistic annual increase driven by demand and inflation.

As a Manhattan investment real estate broker, I focus on numbers. Hence let's put the numbers in context from an investment perspective. Looking from 1997 to 2009, net of the 2008 peak and through the 2009 doldrums, the average annual increase has been 10% per year for Manhattan apartments. This far outperformed the Dow Jones which increased an average of 2% per year during the same time period.The Manhattan market has turned for the better and rather than seeking bottoms, it's good to ride the upwave for those who are contemplating entering the market.

Wei Min, CEO of Castle Avenue Partners, is a real estate entrepreneur focused on brokerage, investments and management. Previously, Wei Min was VP at Citigroup responsible for a $500 million portfolio. He received Citigroup's prestigious Chairman's Award, a recognition awarded to the top 2% of managers. He was also Director of Travel Insurance at American Express where he managed a $180 million portfolio. Wei Min's first exposure to real estate was in 1998, when he helped develop mortgage strategies at Citimortgage. He has traveled to many cities to view thousands of properties. In addition to English, he speaks Cantonese, Malay and is conversant in Mandarin. He is a runner who frequently races at 10K and half marathon distance events. Wei Min holds a black belt in tae kwon do and works out at the gym almost everyday. He graduated with an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BBA from Marshall University. He can be reached at tan@castle-avenue.com www.castle-avenue.com.

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