Archive for July, 2012

Manhattan Is Closer To The Stars

Posted by ricardo on 7/29/2012 | |

California is often thought of as the star-struck state, but there are a dazzling number of celebrities living in Manhattan as well. As opposed to the glamour of show biz, New York City has always been seen as the place you go to “make it big” in business, Broadway, or song and dance. And for marquee names ranging from Bette Midler to Madonna, Manhattan is where they achieved their success. However, there are also stars of the silver screen that have made New York their home, drawn by the allure of status and security you can only find in Manhattan real estate.

Taking a look on the map of the stars homes in Manhattan it’s possible to point out film legends such as Paul Newman, who had lived just off the park, near Bette Midler, on East 93rd. Tom Hanks has made his home on E. 79th. Martin Scorsese lives a few blocks from Spike Lee on E. 62nd. While Steve Martin, Steven Spielberg and Bono share the same address overlooking the park on West 74th.

Throughout the storied history of New York City, there have been addresses that have become as iconic as their famous inhabitants. The Apthorp building on 2207 Broadway was built in the form of an Italian Palazzo in Florence, the Piti Palace, and is the size of a city block. Over the years it has had famous tenants including Conan O’Brien, Kate Nelligan, Rosie O’Donnell and Al Pacino. The Apthorp has undergone a gut renovation and is now a condo with units starting in the $2,000 per square foot range. The Dakota building on 1 West 72nd Street was the famous home of Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Maury Povich, and most notoriously, John Lennon. This was where he was shot and killed in 1980. Yoko Ono still lives there, and across the street is Strawberry Fields in Central Park, where there is a shrine to the Beatles legend.

There are advantages to having a celebrity in your neighborhood, or the spirit of one in your halls. Their prestige rubs off on your real estate. It becomes a conversation piece, a status symbol, and it reflects on the resale value of the property. To be sharing the same sidewalks with famous Hollywood icons is the kind of promise that sells Manhattan real estate as much as a view, or proximity to Central Park. Not to mention there is always the chance of meeting a star at the coffee shop.

For more information:

Homes of the Rich and Famous in Manhattan

New York Map of the Stars

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in Manhattan

Pricey Properties Selling in NY

Posted by ricardo on 7/27/2012 | |


Both international and domestic investors have set their sights on luxury real estate in Manhattan, and there have been some astonishing figures in the news over the last few weeks.

Spurred by the current economic recession, and an American dollar in a six-year slump, foreign buyers have recently completed two apartment deals totaling $110 million.

Meanwhile, wealthy domestic investors have also been scooping up luxury property in their own backyard. Last week, Steve Wynn purchased a $70 million apartment at 50 Central Park South.

730 Park Avenue recently sold in the mid-$30 millions. 973 Fifth Avenue fetched $40-million plus as well: both to American buyers. In fact, more than fifty percent of the $30 million plus homes sold in New York in the last year have gone to domestic investors.

Another American buyer, Martin I. Schneider, bought the former home of Harrison Ford from billionaire Peter Briger, Jr. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom co-op at 101 Central Park West sold for $18.75 million.

The Olshan Luxury Market Report listed more than 14 contracts put out on Manhattan luxury properties worth more than $4 million. Three of the properties were asking more than $10 million. The top contract was for a penthouse at 641 Fifth Avenue that was asking $15 million.

The Hamptons have generated a lot of interest as well. Recent reports from Crains indicate that the sale of high-end homes greater than $5 million has hit record levels in the second quarter 2012.

To-date, Americans’ interest in Manhattan and the Hamptons high-end properties continues unabated into 2012.


For more information:

The Real Deal

The New York Observer

Crain’s New York Business




France No Longer In Fashion for Wealthy French

Posted by ricardo on 7/26/2012 | |


France’s new socialist tax regime is driving wealthy citizens to places like London, Switzerland and New York.

Drastic new political measures, including a proposed whopping seventy five percent tax on citizens who make one million Euros of more, has led many to seek new investment opportunities overseas, and England, Switzerland and the Americas appear to be prime targets.

London-based wealth managers, lawyers and property agents specializing in French clients have stated that the new government’s “soak the rich” policy is forcing the very drivers of their economy out.

The new French president, Francois Hollande, touted himself as “Mr Normal” throughout the spring election. He was able to secure his position by winning the favor of those tired of former president, Nicolas Sarkozy’s, extravagant behavior.

During the campaign, he was quoted as saying: “My true adversary in this battle has no name, no face, no party … It is the world of finance.”

This is disturbing news for the French elite, who may see the restrictive taxes in place by early 2013.

There is little wonder that since this speech, inquiries into overseas properties from the French have seen a 40% increase, according to David Blanc, a partner at Vestra Wealth, a wealth management company based out of London. Other British property managers have seen web traffic from France on their sites rise almost 20% from last year.

Mr. Blanc, a UBS wealth manager, says some French clients were looking into changing their nationality and acquiring new passports in case France attempted to collect from its citizens overseas. “A lot of people are extremely worried,” he said.

The high net worth individuals are also beginning to look to Quebec City and Montreal in Canada, as well as New York City. Luxury property in Manhattan has seen a new wave of francophone investors.

We are living in uncertain times. The European Union is imploding, China and Russia remain politically unstable, and Brazil’s boom has come to an abrupt halt. In the face of uncertainty, there has been a mass exodus of the super wealthy. And many of them are making their new luxury homes in Manhattan.

The wealthy French can feel the guillotine blades being sharpened, and the torches and pitchforks raised, as the lower and middle classes are growing increasingly discontent over the discrepancies of wealth. This mounting hostility is another reason they are leaving.

The big question is, if the wealthy all leave the country – who will be left to tax?


For more information:

Financial Times






Posted by ricardo on 7/21/2012 | |


The price of luxury real estate remains competitive in the US. The recession and the continued devaluation of the dollar have opened the door for international buyers to find high-end property at extraordinarily good value. Two of the hotbeds of investment opportunity are Manhattan and Miami.

According to the National Association of Realtors, international buyers accounted for $82.5 billion, or 8.9%, of the $928 billion spent on residential real estate in the 12-month period that ended in March.

A favorable exchange rate, political stability, and the high status of US property ownership have generated an influx of foreign investment in New York and Miami in particular. Manhattan draws foreign investors across the globe and is seen as, perhaps, the safest real estate investment one could make, as it continues to be the center of commerce and culture in the US and is a beacon to talentedpeople who aspire to greatness.

Miami on the other hand boasts favorable conditions for South American, Mexican and European investors, who seek a warm climate and cosmopolitan beach community. Waterfront properties in Miami are incredibly popular, and more affordable than luxury real estate in comparable parts of the world. Florida is also the destination of choice for Canadian ‘snowbirds’ – mainly retirees who fly south to the everglades for the winter. In fact, Florida has leapfrogged even California in destinations ofchoice, accounting for 26 percent of foreign purchases.

Canada remains the number one country for private, “overseas” investors. It accounts for 24 percent of all international sales, while China came second with 11 percent.

An interesting aside is that sixty-two percent of international purchases were made with cash, a number that has increased since 2007. This, and the high price of homes, demonstrates the wealth of these overseas investors who are already heavily invested in their own country’s property markets.

Foreign buyers are also being joined by wealthy Americans hoping to capitalize on the performance of the luxury real estate market on the east coast. Last week, casino magnate Steve Wynn bought a $70 million penthouse at 50 Central Park South. In addition, Extell, the developer of the ultra-luxury condo One 57 has seen high domestic demand for their extraordinary tower over looking Central Park. There are also reports that there are $130 million more domestic real estate deals of trophy properties are in the pipeline.

With confidence in the world economy on the wane, foreign investment in New York City and Miami  (and other parts of the US to a lesser extent) continues to be a safe investment in uncertain times.  In 20 years from now, it is guaranteed that New York City and the beaches of Miami will have withstood the test of time.


For more information:

Market Watch

Real Deal

Wall Street Journal


Posted by ricardo on 7/17/2012 | |


New Development condo inventory in Manhattan has been on a downward trend in the wake of the Great Recession. Now, four years later, the number of new development projects coming on the market have risen. The most prevalent of these new developments is that of pre-war luxury condo conversions in tony neighborhoods, which seems to be a trend at the moment. Conversions are much easier to finance than big new glass and steel buildings, although, there are a few new record breaking towers that are slated to come on to the market in the next few years as well – all serving the luxury buyer, it seems.

The New York Times and the Real Deal recently reported on new developments in the pipeline in their respective articles, “Back in Business” and “NYCs New Condo Wave.” While we wouldn’t call this level of new development activity a wave, there a number of interesting projects that have either been revived or are brand new. Much of this new inventory is in the Luxury Market Segment, so the average price of all the projects in the pipeline is expected to be at least $2,000 per square foot.

The forthcoming new development projects that we are most excited about are:


530 Park Avenue

This 119 unit pre-war conversion in the heart of the “real” Upper East Side between 60th and 61st St. on Park Avenue will be a great addition to an area where there is a dearth of condos. Prices are averaging around $3,000 per square foot and the building will be available occupancy in fall 2012. Classic Marketing LLC is marketing the project.


One Madison Park

The long-awaited resurrection of One Madison Park is finally here, as the Related Group has breathed new life into this high profile project that has been dormant for the last few years. This already-built ultramodern 50-story high-rise that “resembles stacks of glass cubes” will have 65 units. The building is located in the heart of downtown – the Flat Iron District – at 22 East 23rd St. One Madison Park is expected to re-launch in the fall 2012.


18 Gramercy Park

This gut renovation of an 18 story red brick building right on Gramercy Park is brought to us from the same developer as 15 Central Park West, the Zeckensdorfs. With only 16 units, think boutique chic on the park. Prices are reported to average $4,000 per square foot and an in-house sales office is scheduled to open in September 2012. The project is being exclusively marketed by Brown Harris Stevens Select.


Helmsley Carlton House

This rare pre-war conversion of the old Helmsley Carlton Hotel into 68 luxury condos next to Barneys and across from Hermes is destined to be a hit. This is a perfect location on Madison between 61st and 62nd Streets. We anticipate that prices will reflect its rare UES location. The property is being developed by Extell and is slated for completion in 2014.


150 Charles

Formerly the Whitehall Storage building on Hudson River, 150 Charles was designed by architects Cook + Fox and will include 98 units. The building will be thoroughly modern despite its historic façade. Given its location in the West Village, neighbors to the tony Richard Meier and Superior Ink buildings along the Hudson River, and all the players involved, we expect this property will be a knockout. The project will be marketed by Douglas Elliman.


737 Park Avenue

A rare pre-war conversion at East 71st St. and Park Avenue, this building is being converted into luxury condos by Henry Macklowe and the CIM Group, the same developers of 432 Park Avenue at the old Drake Hotel. Expect grand apartments with pre-war character. Completion date is unknown.


432 Park Avenue (the Drake Tower)

Slated to be the tallest residential building when it’s completed, this 81-story tower will be close to 1,400 feet high. Located across the street from the Four Season Hotel, 432 Park Avenue is expected to have 128 apartments at an average price per square foot of $4,500 (per the WSJ). To-date, the building has not received its financing, but we expect as the economy improves the building will secure the required lending, as there has been a high level of international demand for ultra-luxury condos in Manhattan. See our latest blog on the building at:

432 Park Avenue


Tower Verre

Designed by Jean Nouvel, Tower Verre, once known as the MoMa Tower, will be 78 stories tall, after having its top chopped off by the NY Buildings Department. Located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on 53rd St., Tower Verre will feature a hotel and gallery space for the MoMa. While not many details have been released about the project, Crain’s has reported that the developer has hired Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group to sell the building.


56 Leonard St.

Before the Great Recession, the foundation of this 57-story tower in Tribeca had been started and was to feature 145 apartments. With new equity partners, it is expected that his building may rise after all. Corcoran Sunshine Marketing is the exclusive sales agent for the building, although there are few details about when and if the property will be erected.

New Development Highlight: 530 Park Avenue

Posted by ricardo on 7/15/2012 | |

A great new addition to the real Upper East Side in New York, 530 Park Avenue (between 60th and 61st) is a prewar Condo conversion by RFR (Abby Rosen and Michael Fuchs), the same developer of the posh One Jackson Square and 350 West Broadway.

Residences are grand with refined classic pre-war interiors, including custom cabinetry, kitchens by Smallbone and Devizes, marble baths, herringbone hardwood flooring, and modern convenience.

Since this prime UES area has a dearth of Condominiums, we expect 530 Park Avenue to sell out quite quickly. Prices range from $2.3 million to $9.8 million for one- to three-bedrooms apartments, respectively.

The building is being exclusively marketed by Classic Marketing LLC.

Please contact us about floor plans and availability for 530 Park Avenue



Posted by ricardo on 7/14/2012 | |


Manhattan Real Estate Market’s performance in the second quarter 2012 can be categorized as very stable, with both stable prices and activity.

The average price per square foot of a Condo increased 1.6% from the prior-year quarter. In addition, there was a shift from sales of Condos to Coops, with an overall activity being level with the prior year quarter.  With interest rates at record lows, the market saw a shift to lower priced entry-level apartments.

A major theme that continues to play out is the lack of available inventory, as Condo inventory available for sale declined by 15% over the prior-year quarter.  With the lack of new development inventory entering the market, we expect that this trend will continue and, ultimately, could cause some price action in the near future.

Luxury properties fared quite well in the quarter with price increases (the average price per square foot rose 7.4%) and stable activity. During the quarter, it was announced that the duplex penthouse at One 57 went into contract for over $90 million, the highest amount ever paid for a residence in Manhattan.

To find out more about the Manhattan Market in the second quarter, see the Manhattan Market Report.


Answers to FAQ’s by Foreigners Interested in Buying and Selling NY Real Estate

Posted by ricardo on 7/9/2012 | |

As foreign buyer specialists, we are often asked many legal and tax questions by our foreign buyers. For instance, Can a foreigner buy property in the US? What taxes does a foreigner need to pay when buying Real Estate in New York? What is FIRPTA? Should I set up an LLC or should I buy in my own name? These are just a few of the questions that have been asked over and over from our foreign buyers.

We thought it would be helpful to our clients to hear directly from experts for answers to these questions. Accordingly, we have asked Wendy Fitzsimons, Esq., and Pierre Debbas, Esq., of Romer Debbas LLP to answer the Top 10 frequently asked questions we receive from our foreign buyers.

For a list of the top foreign buyer frequently questions and answers to those questions, please see the full set of FAQs on the link below.

Tax And Legal Issues for Foreigners Buying & Selling New York Real Estate