No Price Too High for High-End Apartments

Posted on Thu, 09-29-2011

The high-end luxury market is back. For the past 3 years, high-end real estate was something of a black sheep among an otherwise healthy real estate market in Manhattan, but no longer. After the recession sent high-end condo sales into a precipitous slide for 2 years, the market began to reassert itself last year, albeit slowly. Recently though, the luxury condo market is making up for lost time. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of city property filings during the third quarter, sales of high-end apartments in Manhattan reached their highest level since mid-2008, the peak of the real-estate boom.

Take 250 West St. in Tribeca, for example. This very expensive converted condo won’t be available until next year and yet it has already raised asking prices – twice. Or look at the Laureate on the Upper West Side: wealthy buyers purchased 18 apartments of $4.8 million or more in the last quarter alone. Overall, 150 apartments in Manhattan sold for $4 million or more during the third quarter.Wealthy buyers once had the luxury of picking and choosing between high-reaend luxury condos, but that dynamic has reversed – sellers now have the upper hand.

The recent exploits of Stone Phillips, the former network Dateline co-anchor and ‘20/20’ correspondent, exemplify this trend. Less than a year ago he purchased a two-story penthouse on 45 Gramercy Park North for $4.9 million despite the fact that the place was a genuine fixer-upper; the previous owners lived there for 45 years without renovating. Mr. Phillips, surprisingly, put the penthouse back on the market just months after purchasing it. He too declined to undertake renovations. Despite all this, he sold it for $5.7 million.

The timing of this surge is especially impressive considering the recent instability of the Eurozone. Donna Olshan, president and owner of Olshan Realty INC., told the Wall Street Journal that, “Believe it or not, we have a market going, despite a global financial collapse." Most people didn’t expect high-end Manhattan apartments to show this much resiliency during such a tough time, but it appears that affluent buyers are eager to pay whatever is necessary to get what they want.

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