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NEW YORK CITY-This year, average prices for cooperative apartments are higher in Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhoods, while the increasing availability seen in early 2001 seems to have stabilized, according to data compiled by Brown Harris Stevens, the brokerage firm based here.

Curiously, while overall average co-op prices are down slightly year-to-date, in most size categories they are higher than last year’s, except for the largest units. The average price for apartments with nine or more rooms has slipped 14% this year, but for those with three to 3.5 rooms the average is up 33%, four-to-five rooms units are averaging an increase of 17%, six rooms, +11% and seven-to-eight rooms, +14%, reports Brown Harris.

Availability has also varied depending on the category of the apartment. At the beginning of the month, there were just a dozen pre-war co-ops with seven to eight rooms on Central Park West, up from early 2001 but down from April, May or June. The same was true of lofts in lower Manhattan; there are fewer now than when they peaked at 89 in May. The supply of condominium lofts, on the other hand, has risen from 95 in May to 120 while the Upper East Side has seen the number of four-to-five room apartments drop from over 70 on the market from January through April to 50 now.

Brown Harris notes that the leveling of availability may be the return of a summer phenomenon. Two years ago, there were more co-ops up for sale on the Upper East Side early in the year than at the beginning of August and September. That was not the case last year when the market strength of the first half of 2000 continued into the summer.

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