Matrix Blog

Luxury, Super, Ultra, Mega

Heightened Observations on the ‘Billionaires Row’ Phenomenon

April 9, 2014 | 11:05 pm |

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[Source: Vanity Fair, click to expand]

Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic at the New Yorker and voice of design reason, penned a comprehensive overview of the “tall towers” building phenomenon in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. It’s an engrossing piece with stunning visuals as it correctly describes the global trend that is creating it.

I believe Michael Gross, the author of the new book on 15 Central Park West, Manhattan’s truly first super luxury condominium that was wildly successful and oblivious to the global economic crisis, coined the phrase “Billionaire’s Belt” which best describes this new Manhattan submarket and new housing classification. I was pushing “57th Street Corridor” as a label but there were no takers so I’ve modified Michael’s phrase to “Billionaires’ Row” as if all these buildings are fighting to be the best.

I like Goldberger’s description of the new design trend:

…the latest way of housing the rich, is an entirely new kind of tower, pencil-thin and super-tall—so tall, in fact, that one of the new buildings now rising in Manhattan, the 96-story concrete tower at the corner of 56th Street and Park Avenue, 432 Park Avenue, will be 150 feet higher than the Empire State Building when it is finished…

And that these residences provide…

a place not for its full-time residents but for the top 1 percent of the 1 percent to touch down in when the mood strikes.

One thing missing from this piece, and perhaps rightfully so is the discussion of why these projects are being built beyond the notion that the global wealthy are demanding them. In Manhattan, new construction developers have to target the super luxury market because land prices are at record highs – we just came out of a record setting building boom last decade – and few prime sites are available. With a high cost of land, inflated labor and materials costs, the math does’t work otherwise for more mainstream projects.

Our city’s obsession with chronicling lifestyles of the Wall Street rich and dysfunctional in the previous boom with prices of $3,500 to $4,000 per square foot seem downright quaint now. Now upwards of $10,000 per square foot has emerged as the price point for all participants in this market niche to aspire to.

New York City residents don’t seem quite sure what to think about these projects and their likely full time emptiness. One thing is for sure, the world’s elite are now a lot more visible and it’s a lot easier to point fingers…doesn’t One57 kind of look like it’s flipping the city off while it looks at the park?

one57topNYO
Source: New York Observer.

But this global pattern of the wealthy searching for hard assets to invest in doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

And we’ll continue to appraise it.

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[Three Cents Worth #264 NY] Tracking How High People Buy In Manhattan

March 25, 2014 | 4:59 pm | curbed | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed NY, at the intersection of neighborhood and real estate in the capital of the world…and I’m here to take measurements.

Check out my 3CW column on @CurbedNY:

Spectators and participants in the Manhattan housing market have been burning a lot of calories talking about views, something the super luxury new development projects have been marketing as a key feature. I thought I’d look back over time to at what the average floor level of closed co-op and condo sales by quarter, and see if there is a pattern. I sifted through six years of data (note to self for rainy day: go back 25 years and break out condos and co-ops). While I’ve analyzed the value of floor level in Manhattan here and here before, I’ve never trended floor level and didn’t quite know what to expect…

[My post title was originally "Manhattan Rebound Not Because of Dizzying Heights" but wasn't Curbed staff didn't think it was catchy enough, ed.]

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[click to expand chart]



My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Tracking How High People Buy In Manhattan [Curbed]

Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed NY
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed DC
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Miami
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Hamptons

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Spot the Manhattan Luxury Townhouse Lehman Effect?

March 23, 2014 | 10:03 am | bloomberglogo |

bb3-14luxTH

Ilan Kolet from Bloomberg News whipped up this chart and shared on twitter using our Manhattan luxury townhouse data.

Gotta love the visual – the 2008 Lehman collapse exemplified in the high end townhouse market in the home of Wall Street.

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Safety First: Explaining Flood of Asian Investors Into Western Real Estate

March 15, 2014 | 12:50 pm | kflogo |

This is a good interview with Alistair Elliott, senior partner and chairman at Knight Frank by Josh Noble of FT about the buying binge of Asian investors in many major global cities like London, Vancouver, Sydney and New York City…”mature financial cities.”

Institutional investors come first, then developers and then private investors. The phenomenon is at it’s very early stages.

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2014 Knight Frank Wealth Report Goes Interstellar

March 6, 2014 | 1:00 am | kflogo |

PIRI2014
Source: Knight Frank

Knight Frank just released their 2014 Wealth Report which takes a look at the investment trends for ultra high net worth individuals (aka UHNWI’s defined as $30M+). It’s chock full of investment insights, including real estate. We provided some data/insight to the report (translation: a very tiny portion). Yesterday I mentioned their crazy new Asteroid Index yesterday.

Here are a few topics covered in the report:

kfglobalwealthdistribution
Source: Knight Frank [click to expand]

kfcityrank
Source: Knight Frank

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Manhattan Luxury Housing Buyers: ‘Eager but not Desperate’

February 15, 2014 | 7:37 pm | bloomberglogo | Public |

There was a terrific Bloomberg News story by Oshrat Carmiel: Manhattan Trophy Home Sellers Test Buyer Limits on Price that delved into the disconnect between reality and perception of the luxury housing market in Manhattan. I talk about this phenomenon on Bloomberg Radio’s ‘Taking Stock’ with Pimm Fox and Carol Masser.

It all began with Sandy Weill’s $88M sale of 15 Central Park West PH20 to a Russian Oligarch back in late 2011 that closed in early 2012. He was reportedly purchasing the unit for his 20-something daughter to crash when she wasn’t at her home in Monaco but it was more likely a divorce strategy. The home sold for $13k per square foot, 30% more than the recent $10k ppsf record previously set within the building (ie definition of an outlier).

Combine this outlier with the dearth of high end new development until recently and this 13k ppsf threshold became a new pricing tool for hopeful sellers and real estate brokers of large properties. The $100M resale penthouse listing at CitySpire was the new symbol of “outlier pricing” phenomenon. Other examples of aggressive pricing are cited in the Bloomberg story.

Despite the fact that this nearly $100M subset represents a tiny sliver - a handful of listings and sales – in the overall Manhattan market, consumer (buyers and sellers) have been subjected to a buzz saw of news reports about trophy properties giving the impression that properties like this comprise most of the housing market.

In reality there have only been a handful of contracts signed near the $100M threshold at buildings like One57 and 432 Park Avenue (the near $100M townhouse contract doesn’t count because it’s roughly 1/2 the ppsf of those apt sales)..and otherwise the overall Manhattan market seeing very modest price growth.

Yet none of the trophy apartment resales are selling at this new price point. Sellers have been testing the waters to see if someone across the globe will be willing to pay for something here, that in relative dollars to their home market is a good deal or they hope they will get lucky and these buyers will over pay.

Apparently these trophy sellers haven’t used the Internet.

UPDATE
Just got this feedback emailed from a real estate agent: In every neighborhood and property class “testing the waters” is an age-old technique that has enough utility to go on forever. As an agent, I prefer the price that results in a quick sell but I never turned down a client who insists on an absurd Ask. In most such cases, I have picked up a few customers and sold them something else they could afford before the “outlier” ran out of inquiries and the seller dropped its price or took it off the market. I like it when journalists report activity at the extremes of price and value because it helps me to identify the evolving dimensions of the market.

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Bloomberg Radio’s ‘Taking Stock’ with Pimm Fox and Carol Masser
Bloomberg News: Manhattan Trophy Home Sellers Test Buyer Limits on Price

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[Country Life article] Once upon a time in the American market

September 10, 2013 | 9:11 pm | nytlogo |

I wrote a brief article for Country Life Magazine – a weekly glossy magazine based in the UK but distributed globally. Country Life is a beautiful publication chock full of luxury housing imagery. This edition (9/4/2013) had a US property focus to which I gave an brief overview of the US housing market over the past decade.

Note: I agreed to allow the editors “Briticise” my writing to match their audience but I had final approval of the content. So if you notice anything, ie Mortgage criteria” v. “Mortgage underwriting guidelines”, that’s why. ;)

Once upon a time in the American market:
Jonathan Miller retraces the history of the American property crash and examines what is driving fresh price rises [Read the article]

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Miller Samuel Luxury Market Indices on Bloomberg Terminals Through 2Q 2013

August 12, 2013 | 8:41 pm | bloomberglogo | Charts |

Here are the 3 Manhattan luxury housing price indices we provide for the Bloomberg Terminals through 2Q 2013.

MLH AVG Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Average Sales Price) [click to expand]

MLH SQFT Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Price Per Square Foot) [click to expand]

MLH MED Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Median Sales Price) [click to expand]

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Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Market Indices on Bloomberg Terminals [1Q 13]

April 28, 2013 | 7:08 pm | bloomberglogo | Charts |

A while ago Bloomberg created three luxury housing indices using our Manhattan historical data for their terminal subscribers. Kinda cool. For all the high end housing market hype, the upper end has remained fairly stable for several years. That may change a bit going forward (higher).

Here are the latest:

MLH SQFT Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Price Per Square Foot)

[click to expand]

MLH MED Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Median Sales Price)

[click to expand]

MLH AVG Index (Miller Samuel Manhattan Luxury Housing Average Sales Price)

[click to expand]

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Manhattan Diverged From NYC At US Housing Boom Peak

February 14, 2013 | 10:54 am | trdlogo | Charts |


[click to expand]

As the above chart illustrates, the aggregate median housing price in New York City, based on co-op, condo and 1-3 family property sales, with and without Manhattan sales go their separate ways circa mid-2006, at the Case-Shiller Home Price Index peak of the national housing market. This also makes the decline in the New York Case Shiller HPI all that more maddening (because it’s not Manhattan, or co-ops or condos or new development and includes Long Island, Fairfield, Westchester, Northern New Jersey and a county in Pennsylvania).

The market share for new development sales in Manhattan peaked in 2Q 06 at 57.9%. The 4Q12 market share was 12.5% but fear not, more new development is coming per The Real Deal.

During the boom through today, the shift in the mix towards Manhattan luxury property, largely from the combination of new development activity as well as vigorous Wall Street and international demand has expanded the difference between Manhattan and the rest of New York City. In other words, the gain in median sales price for NYC was caused by a shift in the mix toward higher end properties.

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