Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
Manhattan apartment prices rose 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter, boosted by sales at two new luxury developments, the Plaza Hotel and 15 Central Park West.
''A lot of the gain has to do with the unique circumstances of these two major buildings closing about the same time,'' said Gregory Heym, chief economist for Terra Holdings LLC, the closely held company that owns New York brokers Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property. ''The high-end properties really pushed up the average price.''
Apartments at the Plaza Hotel and 15 Central Park West, which accounted for 7 percent of total condo sales in the quarter, sold for an average $6.95 million, Heym said. The median price of a Manhattan apartment, including condominiums and co-ops, was $850,000, according to Radar Logic Inc., a New York real estate data firm.
The gains defy the housing market nationwide, mired in the worst downturn in 27 years. Foreign buyers have taken advantage of a weaker dollar to buy bigger homes in Manhattan such as those available in the two new luxury buildings, according to Dottie Herman, president of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
''We've had a whole surge in families who stay and raise their kids here, which expanded demand for larger and more expensive apartments,'' Herman said.
Up to one-third of the condo sales in Manhattan were to foreign buyers, said Jonathan Miller, a Manhattan-based appraiser and executive vice president of Radar Logic.
''We've evolved into a second-home market, not just domestic purchasers but international, and they're not just living in hotel rooms but buying apartments to live in,'' Miller said.
The renovated Plaza and the 201-unit 15 Central Park West have both sold apartments for more than $6,000 a square foot. The average price per square foot in Manhattan in the fourth quarter was $1,180, an increase of 18 percent from the same three months in 2006, according to Radar Logic.
''It's clear New York is in a class by itself,'' said Pam Liebman, chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group, a New York real estate brokerage.
The inventory of unsold units fell 14 percent from a year earlier to 5,133, Radar Logic said. It took an average of 131 days to sell an apartment, 18 less than in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The greatest gains were in three-bedroom apartments, with the average price rising 40 percent to $5.08 million from the same period in 2006, Radar Logic said.
The median sale price of a co-op apartment rose 3.8 percent to $675,000, Radar Logic said.
$10-Million Plus Apartments
The number of sales of apartments with price tags of more than $10 million tripled from a year ago, said Hall Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens.
Bob Costas is the latest celebrity to buy at 15 Central Park West. The sportscaster joins former Citigroup Inc. Chairman Sanford Weill, Goldman Sachs Group Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC as residents.
Apartments at the Plaza Hotel, at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, would sell no matter what was happening in the rest of the market, Herman said.
''The Plaza is the Plaza,'' Herman said. ''Everyone knows the Plaza. I would put that in a class of its own. I don't compare anything to the Plaza. If nothing else you have bragging rights: 'I have an apartment at the Plaza.' It's world renowned.''
Thursday, January 03, 2008