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NY real estate continues surge heading into year’s end: report

November 19, 2014

15 Central Park West 15 Central Park West


Top condominium buildings in New York posted sales per-square-foot in the third quarter that were 29.5 percent higher than the year-ago period, according to a new report by CityRealty.

The average price-per-square-foot from sales in the third quarter was $2,665 across the top 100 buildings. The volume of sales, however, declined 3 percent from the year-ago period to 228.

"At face value, it seems surprising that the most expensive buildings in the CityRealty 100 are developments such as 15 Central Park West and the Time Warner Center, because the price-per-foot was higher than in very expensive new developments like One57 and the Baccarat Hotel & Residences," said Gabby Warshawer, the director of communications and research at CityRealty, New York.

"Aside from the fact that 15 Central Park West and the Time Warner Center continue to have a ton of cachet with buyers, though, sales we’re reporting on now at the newer buildings, like One57, generally reflect what buyers paid when they entered into contract one, two or three years ago," she said.

"So those deals really say more about the value of those buildings in the past rather than in the present. By contrast, most of the sales at 15 Central Park West and the Time Warner Center are resales that went into contract this year, so they indicate the present-day value of the building to buyers."

The "CityRealty 100" report analyzes the top 100 condominium buildings in New York from the third quarter.

Up, up, up

The New York real estate market has seen huge price leaps in the past several years, and the upward trajectory is continuing unabated.

Tight inventory and a frenzied consumer base have led to the dramatic spikes.

The report notes that prices have risen 9.1 percent over the last decade, with a particular surge since 2012. In terms of stable investments, New York real estate surpasses the S&P 500 and oil.

Three sales from the third quarter breached the $30 million mark, and many others were more than $10 million.

The most expensive unit came from One57. The three bedroom, four and a half bathroom unit netted $32.6 million.

Projected view from One57

Projected view from One57

The most expensive building overall, 15 Central Park, added two more $30 million sales to its belt. This building averages $6,294 per unit.

The luxury towers sprouting along West 57th Street in New York have earned the awe of luxury consumers and the ire of local residents.

CPW New York

Central Park West luxury buildings via Google earth

Developers are placating rancor by saying that the towers are too thin to cast bothersome shadows on Central Park and that the ensuing business generated by the occupants will outweigh grievances. Meanwhile, critics argue that Central Park’s identity as a haven for residents of all economic backgrounds should be not sullied to attract global travelers (see story).

The Millenium Tower saw an 11.7 percent increase in average unit prices from the year-ago period. Other big gains were seen by The Time Warner Center, The Century, Liberty Lofts and One Lincoln Square.


Other market researchers are helping brokers navigate New York.

Real estate analytics Web site Urban Digs is looking to solve the traditional disorder of New York’s real estate market with coherent, real-time and hyper-local information.

New York’s residential real estate market has always been ultra-fragmented and chaotic, with buyers unable to fully survey the market and sellers advertising units without access to the most up-to-date data. Urban Digs aims to fix these opacities with a suite of technology that keeps up with the pace of the city (see story).

Brokerages are also turning to online marketplaces for assistance.

For instance, real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman teamed up with digital real estate marketplace Zillow to gain better Web site placement and improve listing accuracy.

The partnership gives Douglas Elliman greater latitude on the Web site, and provides Zillow with an entry-point into New York. As real estate transactions shift into the digital space, marketplaces like Zillow will play a greater role (see story).

For many of the new buildings on the market, prices will likely rise as units age.

"We will get a better sense of the value at top new developments once the first buyers look to sell their units," Ms. Warshawer said.

"For example, investors who are in contract to pay $90 million for a penthouse at One57 say they are looking to flip the unit—and their initial purchase hasn’t even been recorded in city records yet," she said.

"Big deals beget big deals, so as some of the first buyers look to make profits at these newer buildings, others will follow. Will they succeed and will prices at these new buildings continue to rise? We’ll find out in the next couple years."

Final Take

Joe McCarthy, staff writer on Luxury Daily, New York