They were here first: Brazil, Russia, India and China. As the American dollar fluctuates, investors from around the world are staking their claim in luxury Manhattan real estate while the exchange rates are ripe and the market is supple with new construction. Back in February, the New Construction Manhattan blog reported that wealthy foreign investors made up approximately 30% of all Manhattan condo buyers. And as the market swings into the second quarter of 2012, the New York Times recently reported that a fifth contender has been collectively and silently sweeping up luxury condos in Midtown West. Here’s a hint: Whether you are observing the view from across Fifth Avenue or the Celtic Sea, the deals that these investors are making will have you green with envy.
Not unlike the mindset of the investors from all those other countries, own a piece of real estate in New York has long been a status of “making it” or attainment in Ireland. During the booming years of the mid-2000s, the Irish invested heavily in London, Spain and even as far as Bulgaria. In fact, Irish investors have been known to band together and buy up entire residential developments before the project was ever complete and that’s exactly what they did at the Centria in Midtown West.
The Centria at 18 West 48th Street is a post-war, full-service high-rise luxury condo building that was just finished in 2007. While the building boasts over 152 condos for sale over 32 floors, the most impressive aspect of the building is without a doubt its location; the Centria stands directly across Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center. Even for those who have never traversed to New York, the glamor and glitz associated with Rockefeller Center is certain to resonate with even the most under-traveled Irish back home. From builders, bankers, lawyers, publicans to pop stars, Irish investors of all sectors were willing to put everything on the line and purchase an apartment that they have never even seen. As of Q1 2012, Irish investors have purchased nearly 75 percent of the units at the Centria.
For many Irish investors, luxury condos in Manhattan were an investment property; they had no interests to see the apartments, nevermind live there long-term. Others used them as pied-a-terre or short-term rentals for high-end tenants with the hopes of eventually reselling them for a profit. In 2007, the American dollar fell 30 percent against the Euro over the course of a three year-slide, thus creating a profitable market for Irish investors to finally stake their claim in Manhattan soil. In hindsight, what Irish investors were doing in 2007 was not any different than the oil sheiks of the 1970s or the Japanese tycoons of 1980s. And just blocks away is Gary Barnett’s One57 at 157 West 57th Street, where close to 90 percent of the buyers were investors from Italy, Turkey, Korea and “other foreign nations.” While the current high levels of interests by foreign buyers in Manhattan luxury real estate is admirable, it’s hard to tell what will happen if those investors all release their properties on the market over a short peiod of time.