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Luxury, Super, Ultra, Mega

Contrary To Popular Belief, The World Has Manhattan All Wrong

May 18, 2014 | 11:00 am |

nycsubway1969timelife
[Source: Time-Life]

Today, when I speak to friends and relatives in other parts of country, I find a consistency in the image Manhattan currently conveys and it’s completely skewed. Here’s a little background.

1985 to 1995 [Wild West] I moved to Manhattan in 1985 and it was perceived by outsiders as a very dangerous place. “Manhattan-bashing” was in vogue. My relatives in the Midwest saw Manhattan as a place where tourists were getting mugged and stabbed in broad daylight (It didn’t help that my father was mugged twice in Midtown outside of our office in broad daylight on a weekday). They feared for our lives.

1996 to 2000 [Dot Com Boom] Manhattan now had “Silicon Alley” as well as NASDAQ – which was soaring. Midwesterners were caught up in the stock market frenzy as evidence by conversations of trades of Microsoft and Caterpillar stock over potato salad and cheeseburgers and bottles of Faygo.

2001 to 2008 [9/11 to Development Boom to Lehman] The 9/11 tragedy struck New Yorkers hard but the subsequent rise of NYC from the ashes into an eventual new development housing boom was simply amazing. The Manhattan housing boom peaked in 2008, two years after the US housing market had peaked. This period ended with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and access to credit worldwide immediately evaporated.

2009 to 2010 [Collapse and Rebound] There was a surprisingly rapid improvement in the regional economy in the year following Lehman’s collapse and housing rebounded faster than expected.

2011 to 2014 [Playground of Wealthy Foreigners] Manhattan and Brooklyn become a favorite safe haven for international investors to park their money in real estate.

But now we stuck with a Manhattan housing market exaggerated stereotype (represents 90% of media coverage) in 2014:

  • Most sales are all-cash transactions.
  • Most purchasers are made by foreign buyers.
  • Most sales are millions of dollars (i.e. $5M and up).

When in fact, the 2014 Manhattan housing market reality is:

  • 45% of sales are all-cash transactions.
  • Foreign buyers are a small part of the market – i.e. 60% of all sales are co-ops and foreigners don’t purchase them.
  • More than half of all sales are below $1M (i.e. $5M+ is way up in the top 5%).

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[Three Cents Worth #265 NY] Gap Between Starter, Luxury Markets Grows

May 14, 2014 | 1:48 pm | | 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:

I thought I’d bring out another way to measure the market since we’re over-obsessed with “luxury.” The starter market needs more analysis since affordability is now a key topic of conversation across the U.S. right now. For the more than 20 years of releasing market reports, and in all the other markets we analyze, I have always defined “luxury” as the top 10 percent of sales in a given period. For the “starter” market, I inverted the analysis and defined it as the lowest 10 percent of all sales in a given period. I’ve parsed out the past three years of Manhattan apartment sales by quarter and measured the year-over-year change in average sales price for the luxury and starter markets. I selected “average” over “median” to suss out more volatility…

[My post title was originally “For Starters, Luxury Manhattan Is Further Away” but wasn’t used – the crack Curbed staff didn’t think it was catchy enough.]

3cwNY5-14-14
[click to expand chart]



My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Gap Between Starter, Luxury Markets Grows [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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[Global Top 20] Highest Priced Closed Residential Sales List

May 14, 2014 | 11:15 am | | Radio |

5-14-14globallist
[click to expand]

After all the hoopla over the recent $147M sale in The Hamptons, I compiled a list of the highest priced sales around the world I could think of. It’s not comprehensive since all the sales are in the US or UK, and there are a few out there that haven’t closed yet.

Here’s a very brief Marketplace Radio piece on this phenomenon.

Please share if you know of others!

A few takeaways:

  • The media coverage to actual sales ratio is staggering.
  • There can’t be more than a few dozen, a few hundred or perhaps a few thousand that would be considered buyers in this space at any one time.
  • These sales are a pop culture-like distraction from the growing issue of access to affordable housing in the US.

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The $100M+ US Home Sale Trifecta – Without NYC – 2014 Edition

May 6, 2014 | 5:23 pm | Milestones |

60furtherlaneGE

With the $147M sale in East Hampton, NY, it has been a busy couple of weeks for the .0000000000000000001% of the home buying public in the US. With the 3rd US home sale to close above $100M in 2014, it has left many thinking – why isn’t NYC in the fray?

After all, NYC arguably legitimized the US “trophy sale” frenzy a few years ago when Sandy Weill sold his penthouse at 15 Central Park West to a Russian oligarch for double what he paid for it. I’ve argued that this $88M sale was the launchpad for the new trophy market in NYC even though the transaction appears to be a divorce strategy. After that sale closed, the subsequent trifecta of trophy sales back then seems relatively affordable now.

As journalists tell me…three data points make a trend.

2014 US Sales over $100M
$147,000,000 Further Lane, East Hampton, NY
$120,000,000 Copper Beech Farm, Greenwich, CT
$102,000,000 The Fleur de Lys, Los Angles, CA

So is the era of US $100M+ sales a trend?

Yes, although it is probably more accurate to call it a “phenomenon” than a trend.

In NYC? Eventually.

To a few real estate brokers I engaged with on this topic, the idea that NYC would see the $100m threshold broken in 2014 seemed inevitable, only because of this 2014 US trifecta. It is the belief that we are experiencing a momentum swing over the $100m threshold because 3 sales by May, compared to a sale a year means a shift.

Meh. I view this phenomenon as “product-specific” and not “location-specific.” There is a randomness to the locations where these sales occur. However I do believe the probability is high that NYC will see such a sale in the not too distant future.

Then again, does it really matter? Do these $100M+ sales have anything to do with the remainder of the US housing market? No they don’t. But it’s fun to talk about.

The Manhattan $1M Average Sales Price Threshold broken in 2007
I remember when the Manhattan $1M average sales price threshold was broken in 2007, foreign media went gaga, struggling to find a deeper meaning to housing. There wasn’t. I always viewed it as simply a number on the spectrum.

Affordable Irony
Definitive proof that I have “hipster” tendencies – my never ending search for irony.

Yesterday’s announcement of the 3rd US $100m+ sale was one of record breaking irony: the announcement of NYC mayor’s 10-year plan to create 200k affordable housing units. The need for affordable housing – low and middle income – has always challenged NYC. The mayor’s affordable housing plan “moon shot” as the New York Times has described it came out on the same day as the $147M East Hampton sale story broke. Irony.

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WNYC Leonard Lopate Show – Paul Goldberger Interview on Tall Residential Towers

April 28, 2014 | 1:31 pm |

Here’s a great conversation with the guest Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Price winning architecture critic, former New York Times architecture critic and current Vanity Fair editor of his seminal piece on the Manhattan “Billionaires’ Row” phenomenon that is occurring around the world. His Vanity Fair piece provides a terrific visual summary and he provides a nice shout out to the “Bank Safety Deposit Box” analogy I like to use.

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Heightened Observations on the ‘Billionaires Row’ Phenomenon

April 9, 2014 | 11:05 pm |

VF6STR1261CJ70.pd
[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 | | 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.]

3cwNY3-25-14
[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 | |

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 | |

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 | |

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 | | 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.

____________________________
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 | |

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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#Housing analyst, #realestate, #appraiser, podcaster/blogger, non-economist, Miller Samuel CEO, family man, maker of snow and lobster fisherman (order varies)
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