The BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have been doing their part over the past few years to keep the Manhattan real estate market off the ground. Wealthy foreigners made up roughly 30% of all buyers of Manhattan condos in 2011. And with buildings like One57 in Midtown West that are being marketed towards the international community, this number shows no signs of decreasing in 2012. But while a Russian billionaire recently made headlines when he bought an $88 million condo in 15 Central Park West for his daughter, the New York Times recently wrote about how Brazilians have been much more quietly but no less dominantly infiltrating the Manhattan real estate market.
Evidence of an influx of Brazilians in Manhattan is both anecdotal and statistical. A Brazilian interviewed by the Times said that wherever she goes now she hears other people speaking with Brazilian accents. But also an increasing number of realtors have begun to focus on a Brazilian clientele. One broker said she had closed over 15 deals over the past two years for Brazilians who were paying between $5 million and over $15 million for high-end luxury condos. She said they tend to favor addresses by Central Park on the Upper East Side, near Lincoln Center in Midtown, or other parts of the city that are globally famous.
There is a reason for this. The four economies listed above are grouped together because all four of them saw their economic fortunes change for the better during the 1990s. Brazil was plagued in the 1980s and early ‘90s by dictatorial rule, enormous inflation and constant economic uncertainty. But now the country boasts the world’s 6th largest economy, and in a time when most of Europe and North America is dealing with difficulty, it is comparatively stable.
Now Brazil is flush with newly wealthy professionals, many in their 30s and 40s, most from commodities or the finance sector, who see New York as the ultimate status symbol, and owning a condo in Manhattan as a sort of Jay Gatsby-style prize for the success they’ve had. And considering how much of the Manhattan real estate market’s buoyancy owes to these kinds of international buyers, this mentality benefits everyone.