2008 seemed to be the year that Manhattan’s bubble-proof real-estate market actually burst—or at least began to leak—as brokers had a harder time moving high-end properties.
But mega-broker Paula Del Nunzio, of Brown Harris Stevens, remains undaunted. The woman who sold the most expensive townhouse in Manhattan doesn’t think prices are out of hand, believes foreign buyers are still around and wouldn’t be surprised if a $100 million house popped up on the market.
Here are some excerpts from her interview with the New York Observer‘s Max Abelson
Last May you said in an interview that sales and prices were ‘still strong,’ and in September you said, ‘Everyone continues to keep their appointments.’ What’s life like now?
The thing is always supply and demand. And if you talk about the upper end of the townhouse segment, you have very limited supply, and you always seem to have a greater demand. For example, if you wanted a 20-foot renovated house between Fifth and Madison, you have three choices.
But several of the most expensive properties on the market, from 1020 Fifth Avenue, the Mark and Trump Park Avenue to 15 Central Park West or mansions like 22 East 71st, have been sitting around for maybe a year or more.
Well, if you talk about properties that have been on the market for years, the most amazing example of something that sold—after 19 years!—was 603 Park, which sold for $31.5 million [in July] to the one person that wanted what it was.
For over a year you’ve marketed a duplex at River House for $35 million, but its owner, former WorldCom director Francesco Galesi, actually first listed it in 2005 for $50 million. Do you tell clients to get realistic, especially now?
Clients that put an unusually high price on a property and leave it there are not that concerned about whether or not they sell it. It’s sitting there; it’s available to someone who might see it for the treasure that it is, or who might want its assets; in that case, it has 50 windows.
As recently as last May, the Russian nickel magnate Oleg Baibakov paid $13.5 million, $500,000 over your asking price, at the Time Warner centre. Are you starting to miss wealthy foreign buyers?
What they are, perhaps, is less frequent; but they are nevertheless there. … Look, just in December, at 15 Central Park West, 38A sold for $27 million, which represented $9,480 a square foot.
Meanwhile, she doesn’t think the $53 million Harkness Mansion sale she brokered was absurd, and she still wouldn’t be surprised if a $100 million house hit the market.
And why is paying so much for real-estate justified? Because it’s shelter, not art. And if you’ve made a lot of money, you should be able to protect yourself from the elements in a mansion.
Buying a residence is something you need. It’s going to rain; you have to go inside. If you don’t want water on your head, you have to buy a residence of some sort…
Photo from Brown Harris Stevens
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