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Apt. sales hit second highest level of decade

Despite slim inventories, sales of Manhattan apartments in 2012 hit highs only exceeded once in the last decade, back in 2007, according to a report by Douglas Elliman. Sales last year hit 10,508, up by 3.4%, but still 19.2% south of the peak of 2007. The small size of the increase is likely due to low inventory, according to Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, who compiled the report. Median home prices eased by 1.8% to $835,000.

“It’s too early to call this a recovery,” said Jonathan Miller, who compiled the report. “A period of better housing stats isn’t catchy, but that’s more what it is.”

That performance contrasted sharply with the 5.5% rise for the year ending Nov. 30, reported on Tuesday in the Standard & Poor’s/Case Schiller index of housing prices nationwide. On that index New York was the only one of 20 metropolitan areas to see a drop in the period.

Inventory, at 4,749 listings, was at its lowest level in the 10-year period, down 34.2% from 2011 levels. Mr. Miller predicted prices are likely to rise this year and sales will fall largely because of the dwindling number of homes on the market.

“Now that we have this chronic shortage of inventory,” Mr. Miller said. “We’re looking probably at some upward pricing trends in 2013.”