Archive for August, 2012

Manhattan Takes All Types

Posted by ricardo on 8/14/2012 | |

From the exhibitionistic residents of High Line, to secluded apartments for dolls, to the most lavish bachelor pads in the world, Manhattan has as many
unique characters as it does properties that suit them. Let’s take a look at luxury of a different kind: the one-of-a-kind homes designed for the quirks, passions, and slightly eccentric tastes of the world’s most wealthy investors.

Imagine purchasing an apartment strictly to be seen. While some of us turn to thick curtains and hedges for privacy, the Facebook generation wants to share every detail of their lives with friends and strangers alike. And for those who want to take status updates to a whole next level – the High Line is where they can live out loud. Located near 23rd Avenue, the Manhattan properties have large windows open to the park, leaving the daily domestic lives of its tenants potentially exposed to passers by. Of the High Line “private public discourse” properties, the closest to the park is HL23: brainchild of architect Neil Denari. HL23’s multi-million dollar residences are designed to feel a part of the park experience, with the owners as human art on display. For those who live on the main floor, Denari quipped, “[they] are probably not eccentric recluses looking for a haven.”

There are also Manhattan properties for those who ferociously guard their privacy, even to the point of completely disappearing, and giving their home to their toys. The top floor of 907 Fifth Avenue was one of the homes of reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark. Its only tenants for the last twenty years were her hundreds of dolls. The collection is estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Ms. Clark had three apartments at that address, worth $55 million in total, yet she spent two decades in the hospital, even though she was in good health. Until she passed away this year, no one knew where she was.

For the quintessential Playboy, Manhattan’s most expensive penthouse is now on the market. The sprawling 8,000 square foot bachelor’s paradise in midtown Manhattan is asking a cool $100 million. If it sells, it will be a record-breaker for the city (one just sold in May for $90 million. The current owner bought it for $4.5 million almost 20 years ago. Competing against this $100 million penthouse are 5 other properties currently listed for at least $90,000,000.

Manhattan properties are a magnet for the elite. As prices continue to climb, the world’s wealthiest begin to make their appearance. Often, with great success and power, comes interesting idiosyncrasies, and there is no city in the world more accommodating than Manhattan.


For further reading on Manhattan Properties:

High Line Exhibitionists

Most Expensive Apartment In New York

Huguette Clark’s Manhattan Apartments

Renting Before You Buy

Posted by ricardo on 8/13/2012 | |

If one is to spend millions of dollars on an investment, it’s wise to do some research first. Just as there is only so much you can tell about someone from their resume, it’s important to know how a neighborhood stands up beyond the statistics. There are personal, subjective elements to every property that some buyers are finding they can only appreciate from living in the area first – by renting. A few months in a nearby flat can make all the difference when deciding where to buy.

To address this need, there is a new phenomenon that is popping amidst real estate in Manhattan known as condo-rental hybrids. By renting first, buying later, the selective investor has a chance to build a relationship with the management, to ease them into the buying transition. It also allows them to know exactly what to expect with their apartment, and the new neighborhood surrounding them.

Buying residential real estate in Manhattan can be an emotional affair, especially when families are involved. By easing into their new neighborhood, it eliminates some uncertainty and anxiety. Once a family has settled in, it becomes just a matter of paperwork to finalize the transaction.

Others prefer to rent in a nearby building. By taking a few months close by they are able to scope out potential weaknesses to use for bargaining advantage. Kim Kardashian and her party pals dance to loud music all night across the street? Strange smells from the back alley? Too close for comfort with the Occupy protestors? These become arrows for the quiver in the negotiation process. A shrewd investor knows his product inside and out, and that knowledge becomes key when striking down a realtor’s bluffs.

However, there has never been a worse time to rent. Rents are at record highs, and they keep getting higher, with the median rental price shooting up 7.9 percent from the same quarter last year. But, for someone looking for their primary home, then renting before you buy can be a very savvy thing to do. Keeping things in perspective, a few thousand dollars in a new neighborhood is a drop in the bucket for the serious multi-million dollar investor. A little reconnaissance to feel the pulse and some feet-on-the-street time could be the best investment they’ve ever made.

For more information:

Renting Before Buying

Renters’ Beware

Dance Parties Anger Neighbors

Bubbles In Hong Kong, Vancouver and Oslo?

Posted by ricardo on 8/10/2012 | |


Stimulus money from the Central Banks has been making its way out of the intended countries into the international real estate market, with luxury properties in Canada, Norway and Hong Kong skyrocketing since 2008. Does this set the stage for a precarious real estate bubble abroad? And if so, how does this affect Manhattan real estate?

A source of this wealth is from stimulus packages generated by the central banks, originally intended to kick-start the economies of their own countries. Instead of the money being spent domestically, it is finding its way into international real estate. Canada, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Oslo were ripe destinations, due to their political stability and low levels of debt. Internationally, they are seen as resistant to economic turmoil and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis.

The central banks have spent more than $4 trillion in an attempt to revitalize the economy in North America, Europe and Asia. The reduced borrowing cost did little to increase buying in the countries that needed it. Instead the funds were diverted overseas to more stable climates.

The spree of buying has been fueled by the Federal Reserve, which has been keeping US interest rates at record lows. The Hong Kong dollar is tied to the US Dollar, so that affects them as well. Canada, following the suit off its southern cousin, has kept rates close to zero.

The specter of cheap credit is what led to the collapse of the housing markets in the U.S., Ireland and Spain. The fall of these once-booming countries, in turn, triggered the global financial crisis. It’s a warning to those who seem hell-bent to repeat the same mistakes in Vancouver, Oslo, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, the price of property has doubled in the last five years. The money once set aside to buy apartments is now hardly enough for a down payment. Rock bottom borrowing rates and a limited amount of space to build has driven prices through the roof.

The bubble’s walls have grown thin. A combination of reduced demand from Europe’s debt crisis and reduced demand for goods from China and Hong Kong, poses great risk of an abrupt correction in the city’s real estate market.

In Vancouver, the market has seen rapid growth until the last few months. Housing prices have doubled in the last ten years, with a 34 percent increase since January 2009 alone: while government bonds are at their lowest levels since 1950. However, in the last two months, there is talk that the bubble has popped. Housing sales are down 12 percent from what they were last year in this time, and listings are up. In May, prices were down on average $150,000 from what they were in 2011. The luxury real estate market of Vancouver in particular has flat-lined. Analysts are comparing the current climate as similar to what happened in 2008.

The safe bets in international real estate are in New York, London and San Francisco, where investors are competing for a limited number of properties.


For more information about International Real Estate

Property bubbles from cheap credit

Hong Kong property bubble

Vancouver real estate bubble Has Vancouver’s bubble popped?

Cities Are More Similar Than Countries

Posted by ricardo on 8/9/2012 | |

You can travel a thousand miles to another big city, and feel more at home there than someone from a rural part of that country, coming to the city for the first time. When you get beyond the language, big cities are the same in many ways. There is a certain ebb and flow. For an investor to buy real estate in Manhattan, the transition from Hong Kong or Singapore for their families can actually be more fluid and familiar than for a family moving to the Big Apple from upstate New York.

What’s selling in upstate New York? For less than a million dollars you can own a nine-bedroom 9,040 mansion with six full and four half baths. It’s on 43 acres of land overlooking Cayuga Lake. However, even for the well-heeled owners of such a property, a move to the city would feel cramped and confined.

If buying real estate in Manhattan, that $975,000 would afford a small one-bedroom condo of less than 800 square feet. The difference between the lush rural landscape and the prestigious address would be lost on a small-town investor. It’s nine times smaller and without a single acre. However, the centrally located Manhattan address is of excellent value to a luxury real estate investor from a large city like London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei or Sao Paulo. They understand the value of location and prestige.

There are many differences the big city would bring: Transportation, business styles, crowds, and a bombardment of activity. It can be overwhelming for those not acquainted with major centers.

Those from other cosmopolitan metropolises such as London, Hong Kong, or Sao Paulo, transplanting to life in Manhattan is actually much easier. When you get over the language barrier (and many investors speak fluent English), there are a plethora of similarities, which help to ease in the transition.

Big cities have no shortage of things to do. They’re busy, and noisy. There is rarely silence on the streets of Manhattan. It is full of a hustle and energy, similar to the bustling carts, wild markets, and lurching vehicles of Shanghai. There is familiarity in noise. One can grow to love it. Even Pete Campbell from Mad Men claimed that he wanted to move back from the country, which he compared to a graveyard, and into the city, because he missed the noise of the traffic from his high-rise. It was something that made him feel at home.

The crowds are another one. If you are from Hong Kong, one of the densest places on earth, Manhattan feels spacious. A large, moving throng of people is comforting to those born and raised in glass towers. But if you are from a smaller town or upstate, the crowds can be intimidating, and strangely isolating.

If you come from a small town, you might not have a feel for how business is done in a big city. There is a hustle and bustle, an art to wining and dining, finding the best martini bars in the city, and exuding the right cut of wealth in your clothes and mannerisms. These are big city attributes. Those coming from a city of power know how to act, how to dress, and how to succeed in the concrete jungle. Something that smaller town folk never get the chance to learn. It is a way to be and live amongst their own kind.

For those buying real estate in Manhattan, but are worried about the culture shock their spouses and children will face moving to another country, be rest assured. Manhattan is more like Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, London, Tokyo and Singapore than other cities in the same state. Manhattan is an international city, with a cosmopolitan code, the kind only found in the world’s biggest and most bustling places. Your family will feel more at home than most Americans ever would.

For more information:

For more information
Luxury in Upstate New York

New Development Highlight: Grove at Grand Bay

Posted by ricardo on 8/8/2012 | |


The Grove at Grand Bay is a new pre-construction ultra-luxury condo project in the elegant waterfront community of Coconut Grove. With 97 units over two towers that both rise in a “twist”, Bjarke, Ingels Group (BIG), the architects for the project, have created one of the most interesting cutting edge designs we have ever seen.

Residences feature 12-foot ceilings, 12-foot deep terraces with summer kitchens, walls of glass, and top-of-the-line everything. Corner units and Penthouses will feature staff accommodations.

Both towers will feature rooftop swimming pools. In addition, the project boasts a glass enclosed tennis court and outdoor event space, children’s playground, state-of-the-art fitness center, private elevator access to residences, private chef, event catering, chauffeured car service, pet grooming services, climate controlled parking garages and storage areas. The project will also feature lush gardens designed by Raymond Jungles.


Grove At Grand Bay Starting price points:

2 Bedrooms from $850K

3 Bedrooms $2 million

4 Bedrooms $3.1 million

5 Bedrooms $4.6 million


Payment schedule is as follows:

Reservation (Immediately) – 10%

Converted to Contract (in 10-15 days) – 10%

Upon Demolition of Historical Grand Bay Hotel – 10%

Groundbreaking – 10%

Completion of the Lobby Level – 10%

Closing – 50%


The Grove at Grand Bay is a five-minute walk away from Dinner Key Marina in Sailboat Bay (a section of Biscayne Bay).

This is a very unique project brought to us by the Terra Group, one of the best developers in Miami and the developer of the very successful 900 Biscayne in Downtown Miami. The architect, Bjarke, Ingles Group is a Danish architecture firm devoted to cutting edge design. One of its forthcoming New York City projects is W57, which is being developed by Durst Fetner Residential. The building is designed as a cut-out pyramid and is being built along the Hudson River between 11th Avenue and the Hudson River.

W57 New York


For more information on Grove at Grand Bay, including floor plans and more specific pricing, please contact us.

New Development Highlight: Regalia, Sunny Isles Beach

Posted by ricardo on 8/7/2012 | |

Regalia: “Limited Edition Living” is a new pre-construction ultra-luxury boutique building with 42 floors on the Atlantic Ocean at 195th St. in Sunny Isles Beach.

Exclusivity is the theme here, with the top 39 floors featuring full-floor residences that allow for full customization – the hallmark of Regalia Sunny Isles Beach. With 360-degree unobstructed views, 10-foot ceilings and walls of glass, living spaces are flooded with light. Residences feature expansive wrap around terraces, private elevators and entrance galleries, smart technology, Kreon lighting, top-of-the line appliances, including two 36 inch Subzero refrigerators and freezer drawers and a 100-bottle Subzero wine cellar.

Prices at Regalia start around $6 million for 5,155 square feet of interior and 2,100 square feet of exterior space. There is also a two-story beach house and a two-story penthouse. The building was designed by Arquitectonica.

The deposit schedule to purchase a residence is as follows:

20% due at time of contract;

20% due at pouring of the selected floor;

20% due at top off (projected for Spring/Summer 2013); and

40% balance due at closing (estimated completion date of construction is last quarter of 2013).

For more information and pricing on Regalia Sunny Isles Beach, contact us for details.

Real Estate Price Bubbles In Other Parts Of The World

Posted by ricardo on 8/7/2012 | |


Let’s take a look at the current real estate climates in other parts of the world, like Beijing, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Colombia, Singapore and Israel and see how opportunities in these locales measure up to buying luxury real estate in New York. While there may be other red-hot markets out there, Manhattan stands out as one of the best value for high-end property.

Currently, China is ranked as the #1 hottest real estate market in the world. Boasting a 110 percent growth in the last five years, cities like Beijing and Shanghai are selling luxury real estate at as much as $1,800 per square foot in the downtown core. However, there is evidence that this bubble is about to or already has burst, and a major crash could await the real estate market in the world’s second largest economy. Experts warn of a potential price decrease in the mainland of ten to twenty percent in the next year.

In Hong Kong, real estate sells for $4,400 per square foot, and it has seen triple digit growth in the last five years. That growth rate alone makes one question whether these increases are sustainable, especially in the face of a slower growth China. Hong Kong also has some of the most expensive office space in the world as well. The Pearl of the Orient is popular with Chinese investors, who see the excellent economic potential of the city. This buying frenzy, however, has slowed in recent months as the government has levied foreign investment with a ten percent larger down payment.

Other hot markets include Israel, with a 54.5 percent increase over the last five years, Singapore, with a 50.5 percent increase in the same time, as well as the once dangerous destination – Colombia.

However, Israel has had a marked resistance to foreign investment, with protests and tent cities appearing in the capital. Singapore was recently ranked as the third most expensive city in the world, and public discontent has put a stamp tax of ten percent on foreign investment, effectively curbing the spike in prices and slowing activity.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, housing prices have doubled in the last ten years. There is an Asian influx of foreign investment creating a new luxury real estate market with several homes selling in the 8-12 million dollar range. However, with new mortgage laws introduced in Canada this week, June sales dropped to a ten-year low at a time of record low interest rates, indicating that the downswing is back in effect in Canada.

Compare this to the price of luxury real estate in Manhattan. Since the crash of the economy in 2008, New York property has never been better value. During the Great Recession, the Manhattan real estate market was the last to fall and the first to rise. In fact, the Manhattan market is back to pre-recession levels for much of the city, especially at the high end of the market. In fact, there are apartment prices that kept rising (like those at 15 CPW), during the recession. Eschewing the overhyped markets in Asia, and the bubbles of Canada, there is a big opportunity in the Big Apple. This may explain why some of the most prominent foreign investors in Manhattan have been from Canada, Hong Kong and China. They understand that the markets in their own countries have become saturated and unsustainable, and are looking for the next big thing – which is once again, Manhattan.


For more information on Overseas Luxury Real Estate:


The World’s Hottest Real Estate Markets

Vancouver Sales Hit Ten-Year Low

New Development Highlight: Icon Bay

Posted by ricardo on 8/3/2012 | |

After the resounding success of Icon South Beach and Icon Brickell, Icon Bay is the latest pre-construction project released from this ICONic brand in Miami.  Located between NE 28th and NE 29th Streets directly on Biscayne Bay, minutes from Brickell, South Beach, the Design District, and Midtown.

Designed by Arquitectonica, this 40-story tower will have 300 waterfront apartments.  The building will feature private foyer/elevators, 9-foot ceilings, direct water views from every residence, triple-height lobby, waterfront-community park, infinity bay-front pool.  Apartments will range in size from 900 square feet to over 1,500 square feet.

Icon Bay Miami type of units:

1 Bedrooms plus Den

2 Bedrooms

2 Bedrooms plus Den

3 Bedrooms

Icon Bay Deposit Structure:

10% of Purchase Price at Reservation (Immediately)

10% of Purchase Price at Contract Signing

15% of Purchase Price at Groundbreaking

15% of Purchase at Top Off

50% of Purchase Price at Closing

Related will be the developer and Fortune will be exclusive sales agent for Icon Bay Miami.

For more information about pricing and availability, please contact us.

Album Covers in NYC

Posted by ricardo on 8/2/2012 | |


An artist has uncovered the location of some of the most iconic album art in the last sixty years. Bob Egan, also a New York commercial realtor, has used his cross-city knowhow to find the exact addresses of the cover shoots for bands such as Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and The Who.

The project is an interesting reminder that the more Manhattan changes, the more it stays the same. The city is, and always will be, synonymous with cosmopolitan style and culture. Property will always be in demand, the allure of will never diminish, and luxury real estate will continue to be defined by the view of Central Park. The fashion district may move across town and Madison Avenue has seen its Mad Men shuffle, but within the city, they all remain.

Back in the 60s, Manhattan was home to some of the most prestigious addresses in the world. It still is. Let’s see which premium properties are being sold near the locations of these album covers today. Owners knowing the once-forgotten history behind some of these neighborhoods have another arrow in the quiver when it comes to resale.

Here are some of the addresses unearthed in this music detective’s search, and some recent Manhattan luxury property sales to give you an idea of the value today.

Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.

Simon & Garfunkel were in the subway near Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street in Manhattan when this shot was taken. The closest luxury property near that location is the Lehman Art House, which is asking for a cool $65 million, in 1964, when the album came out, that would be the equivalent of $8.8 million. That’s a lot of 99 cent singles of Sounds of Silence. Art Garfunkel said to get the shot, several hundred pictures were taken that were unusable due to offensive graffiti on the wall. This inspired a later song: “A Poem on the Underground Wall”.

Pretzel Logic

The cover of this Steely Dan album was shot on the corner of 79th St. and Fifth Avenue, near the “Miner’s Gate” entrance. The Woolworth Mansion sits a block away. It was there, in all of its opulence, when the photo was taken. Today the immaculate 19,950 sq. ft. suite is up for sale, and is asking $90 million.
The Kids Are Alright

The famous cover of The Who that had them sitting on the ground, draped in a Union Jack was shot at the corner of 116th St. and Morningside Drive. Just around the corner, on Riverside Drive, rests Manhattan’s last remaining free-standing, single family mansion. The interior boasts 12,000 sq ft., and the asking price is $14,950,000.

For more information:

Artist finds album cover locations in NY

NY Real estate index

Inflation Calculator