Matrix Blog

Luxury, Super, Ultra, Mega

Palace: When A $500 Million Asset Is Not A Home

May 26, 2015 | 3:15 pm | bloomberg_news_logo |

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When I was called by Bloomberg News about a new Bel Air (LA) listing that was asking $500m and another one down the block by the same architect but different developer at around $400 million, my initial reaction was laughter. I wasn’t doubting that there could be a buyer somewhere out there somewhere…but rather at the absurdity of it. It also seems like a strike against it to have a nearby home done by the same architect, no?

As I told a bank executive/client this morning that it’s clearly a strange world when someone builds spec housing for a handful of buyers worldwide and no houses in the local market have ever sold close to half the proposed asking price (including Jeff Greene’s $195 million listing that has been on the market since December.)

At a combined $100k square feet (main house + 3 smaller houses), it will be bigger than “Versailles” a 90k square foot house outside of Orlando, Florida that was the subject of the documentary “Queen of Versailles.”

According to NAR, the U.S. median home sales price is currently $219,400.

If the Bel Air home is sold, it is doubtful this would end up as someone’s primary residence. Perhaps we should label this type of asset as something else besides a “home?”

How about a Palace?

That’s what the architect suggested:

“It’s very similar to a palace,” he said. “The house is about public functions rather than domestic living.”

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[Video] Why The Rich Get Richer

May 4, 2015 | 11:05 am | wsjlogo |

Here’s one way to look at it.

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[Three Cents Worth #279 NY] New York’s Building Boom Doesn’t Mean More Units For Sale

April 26, 2015 | 1:57 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:

Now that I am fully recovered from Micro Week, I thought I would think a little bigger and present the Manhattan inventory picture by comparing new development and re-sales. I’ve charted it from the pre-Lehman high (PLH for those in the know) through the end of 2014 in two graphs. One shows the year-over-year change, and the other tracks inventory by units to help tell the whole story. Inventory was in a state of free fall for both types from 2009 through 2013, but in 2014 the picture clearly changed…



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My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Three Cents Worth: New York’s Building Boom Doesn’t Mean More Units For Sale [Curbed]

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Bloomberg View Column: Income Inequality Hits the Housing Market

March 15, 2015 | 6:27 pm | BloombergViewlogoGray | Charts |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column Income Inequality Hits the Housing Market.

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This article turned out to be my most-commented on piece so far. The topic of affordability generates a hotbed of conversation.

Here’s an excerpt…

There’s been plenty of talk recently about signs of recovery in the housing market. Rather than think about housing as a single market, it might be helpful to look at housing as many markets based on everything from geography to price to new versus existing…

[read more]


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Good and Bad Super-Luxury Condo Buyers Love the LLC

February 9, 2015 | 9:46 am | nytlogo | Favorites |

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One of the great ironies of modern residential real estate has been the expansion in transparency of information, along with greater secrecy of ownership. I think the latter coincides with the much greater wealth that is being put into hard assets like real estate. Privacy and security are indeed very important to many, including the wealthy and especially those near the top of the financial pyramid. There is nothing sinister or unseemly about the desire for privacy. The use of limited liability corporations (LLCs) has been a legal vehicle (and a gift) from lawmakers who created it that allows people to keep certain transactions hidden from view. However the LLC also provides an opportunity for bad actors to shelter their often ill-gotten assets too.

Louise Story and Stephanie Saul of The New York Times have explored this in “Towers of Secrecy: Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate,” an epic data visualization along the lines of “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” This article is a must read covering the hypersensitive subject of high end real estate and privacy.

The ongoing debate about the dying middle class versus the booming fortunes of the wealthy, the lack of affordable housing versus the super-luxury residential tower boom and municipal governments grappling to keep construction and development moving forward to keep tax revenue flows coming in, have made this effort long overdue.

Towers of Secrecy” is careful not to stereotype users of LLCs in high end real estate transactions as exclusively foreign buyers. Within the Manhattan market, foreign buyers are not the majority of overall high-end real estate purchasers. However they tend to be concentrated around the Midtown central business district (aka ‘Billionaires’ Row’) whereas domestic purchasers tend to favor markets found to the north and south of Midtown.

UPDATE There’s a great recap over on Curbed NY too:
Scandal-Plagued Foreigners Park Millions in Midtown Condos

Here are a few screenshots of the embedded videos within the “Towers of Secrecy” piece.

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VIDEO: Fox Business Risk & Reward w/ Deirdre Bolton 2-18-15

February 2, 2015 | 8:00 pm | foxbusiness | TV, Videos |

Always a pleasure to join Deirdre Bolton and talk housing.

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[Three Cents Worth #276 NY] Proving New York’s Blockbuster $100M Sale Is An Outlier

January 22, 2015 | 1:08 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:

Finally, after nearly two years of referring to the $88 million sale at 15 Central Park West as the “highest Manhattan residential sale on record,” we get a change of scenery. A new record was set with the $100.47 million sale of the penthouse at One57 recorded late last week. Timing is everything, although, in this case timing really wasn’t. I believe this sale went to contract in 2012, which would be shortly after the $88 million sale went to contract in December 2011 and closed in early 2012. While these super luxury sales are more of a circus sideshow and have little, if anything, to do with the vast majority of the Manhattan housing market, I find them surreal to consider…



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My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Three Cents Worth: Proving New York’s Blockbuster $100M Sale Is An Outlier [Curbed]

Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed NY
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Top 100 Cities Worldwide: Most New Residential Buildings

January 22, 2015 | 12:00 pm |

Here’s a companion table to my Bloomberg View column published today: Living the High Life. The volume of tall buildings recently completed or under development is staggering. Within the list are generally mixed use but have some element of residential included (i.e. rentals or condos) The data was tabulated in stunning detail at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s. Skyscraper Center.

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VIDEO: Fox Business Risk & Reward w/ Deirdre Bolton 12-31-14

December 31, 2014 | 5:42 pm | foxbusiness | TV, Videos |

Came into the city on the last day of 2014 to join Deirdre Bolton on her Fox Business show Risk & Reward to talk housing rents and 2015 with a dash of $50M+ sales in New York. Always fun.

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[Three Cents Worth #274 NY] Number of Manhattan Homes Selling for $10M+ Is Way Up

December 26, 2014 | 1:53 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:

This week I took a look at the volume of super high end sales that closed each quarter to show how out of whack current activity is when compared to longer term norms. From 2006 through 2013, the average was 21 apartments sales for $10M or higher per quarter. That’s seven per month or nearly two per week for eight years. That’s a lot of sales in this price segment…

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My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Three Cents Worth: Number of Manhattan Homes Selling for $10M+ Is Way Up [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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Bloomberg View Column: The $10 Million Home, Never Hotter

November 30, 2014 | 1:00 pm | BloombergViewlogoGray |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column The $10 Million Home, Never Hotter. Please join the conversation over at Bloomberg View. Here’s an excerpt…

As the U.S. housing market cools from last year’s overheated state, sales of homes at the top haven’t been following the same script. Prices and sales at the upper reaches are soaring…

[read more]


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VIDEO: Fox Business Risk & Reward w/ Deirdre Bolton 11-24-14

November 29, 2014 | 9:19 pm | TV, Videos |

Joined Deirdre Bolton to talk about the U.S. high end development residential market. We spoke about softness at the NYC high end and how the cooling of new development doesn’t speak for the entire high end market.

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