Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
By JOSH BARBANEL
AVERAGE apartment sale prices in Manhattan soared last month to the highest levels ever, showing the tenacity and power of the luxury market.
With at least 15 closings at the expensive new condominiums at 15 Central Park West, and a steady stream of sales at the most exclusive co-ops, including a record-setting $46 million sale on Fifth Avenue, the average apartment sold for nearly $1.75 million, according to a compilation of preliminary industry statistics.
That was 21 percent above the average sale price reported in the last quarter of 2007 in a market study by Prudential Douglas Elliman.
Meanwhile, the average sale price of a condo approached an astonishing $2 million in January, while co-ops, which had poked above $1.1 million in the last few quarters, hit $1.5 million, based on transactions filed by the middle of last week.
Yet, despite the continuing euphoria in the luxury market, there were signs that the rest of the market was in a holding pattern. The number of closings in January rose sharply compared with a weak December, but remained below levels seen in both co-ops and condos for most of last year.
And the median price — the price at which half of all sales were above and half below — was roughly flat in January, at about $857,000. That was slightly above the median reported last quarter and slightly below the level recorded during the summer. Median prices reflect the broader market without the influence of the mega-sales.
Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist at two brokerage firms, Halstead Property and Brown Harris Stevens, says the pace of sales at the upper reaches of the market was set by the availability of trophy apartments that rarely change hands, while buyers in the rest of the market are “more sensitive to what is going on in the economy and with interest rates.”
“Many want to sit on the fence and wait,” he said. “Some people have the misconception that we have the same inventory here as in the rest of the country, and it is not even close.”
The big transactions last month included the $46 million sale of a co-op apartment at 1060 Fifth Avenue, at 87th Street, to Scott A. Bommer, a hedge fund manager. A $32 million duplex at 740 Park Avenue, near 71st Street, sold to D. Randall Winn, the managing director of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s that provides financial analysis tools, and his wife, Tamara Winn. She is a daughter of Ira Rennert, the billionaire investor who is sometimes credited with having the world’s largest home, in the Hamptons.
Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, paid $26 million for a four-bedroom 6,130-square-foot duplex on the 16th and 17th floors at 15 Central Park West, with an 1,100-square-foot terrace and park views.
There were also two sales at 1040 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 85th Street. In mid-January, Mr. Bommer sold his 14th-floor apartment there for $21 million to Jeff T. Blau, the president of the Related Companies, which built the Time Warner Center.
Two days later, Edgar Bronfman Jr., the chief executive of the Warner Music Group, and scion of the Bronfman liquor fortune, paid $19.5 million for a similar A-line apartment four floors down. That apartment is now back on the market with a $24 million asking price.
Sunday, February 10, 2008