Gregory J. Heym
Executive Vice President, Chief Economist
Time Warner Center
By: JOSH BARBANEL
WHEN it comes to transactions in the New York City real estate market, April is the sweetest month, at least for the sellers of co-ops and condominiums and those hard-working brokers who count on the commission checks handed over at closing.
A tabulation of property closings in April and a trickle of closings in May filed with the city’s Department of Finance show nary a shadow of the retrenchment in the national real estate market.
Average prices at closings in Manhattan appear to have reached or exceeded the top levels achieved in the spring of 2006. Average prices were higher by 6 percent than prices in the previous quarter.
Median prices were up as well, suggesting the middle of the market remains solid, even for those without trust funds, hedge funds or tax shelters. The prices reflect contracts signed in April as well as in earlier months, and brokers say they have not seen signs of slackening in the peak spring season.
At the Lucida, a new glass-walled condominium at Third Avenue and 85th Street with 110 apartments, Extell Development said that more than 60 percent of the apartments had sold in a matter of weeks.
Buyers who have waded into this heady real estate market include Oleg Baibakov, a Russian executive who has branched out from nickel production to large-scale Moscow real estate development. A few months ago, Mr. Baibakov turned up his nose at a penthouse at the Plaza, according to an account by Bloomberg News, because the building’s developer, in an effort to maintain a sense of mystery, did not allow an inspection of the raw space.
“If you are buying a $30 million apartment, you are entitled to see the view,” Maria Baibakov, Mr. Baibakov’s daughter, was quoted as saying. “It’s kind of silly.”
But property records show that Mr. Baibakov found a suitable alternative just up the street. On April 26, he closed on a $13.5 million apartment at 80 Columbus Circle, the north tower at the Time Warner Center, which comes with hotel services from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
The three-bedroom condo, with nearly 3,200 square feet, was sold by Sheila Potiker, who bought the apartment in 2005 for $9.4 million, with her husband, Hughes, the founder of Entertainment Publications, which produces books of discount coupons.
Mr. Baibakov’s purchase price was $500,000 over the asking price in a listing by Paula Del Nunzio at Brown Harris Stevens.
In the south tower at Time Warner, Sergio Kostek, a trader in emerging markets at Deutsche Bank, paid $6 million last month for a condo on the 58th floor.
Over at the Dakota, at 72nd Street and Central Park West, Ping Jiang, a trader with SAC Capital Partners, a hedge fund with offices in Stamford, Conn., paid $16.5 million for a 4,000-square-foot co-op with a den, living room and two bedrooms facing Central Park.
Mr. Jiang presumably had no trouble meeting the co-op’s financial standards. He is on the list of the top 100 traders in the current issue of Trader Monthly magazine, with an estimated income more than $100 million last year.
In city records, the sale price for the Dakota apartment was also more than $500,000 over the final listing price but well below the $20 million asked when the co-op was first listed.
The tabulation of closing prices identified 23 condominiums and 19 co-ops in Manhattan that sold for $4 million or more last month, the fifth-highest month since mid-2004, but many sales have not yet been recorded by the city. Several brokerages release market reports at the end of each quarter, but the methodologies differ, and there is no single authoritative tabulation of sales prices.
Greg Heym, an economist at Terra Holdings, who prepares market reports for Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property, said the city’s tabulation of market prices follows the same trends as his own reports. “From what we see, the market has remained very strong in April and May,” he said.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Sunday, May 13, 2007