On “Million Dollar Listing New York” — the second season of Bravo TV’s reality show premiered last night — the properties usually take a back seat to the personalities. Indeed, the time between filming and airing often means the homes have been sold, or pulled from the market, before viewers even see them.
On last night’s episode, for example, all the homes have been sold since shooting began last year — two for under their asking prices and one, an off-market property, for its last listed asking price. The sales offer an insight into the debate over just how realistic the show is in depicting the broker game.
Here, now, The Real Deal’s behind-the-scenes look at deals done by cast members Fredrik Eklund of Douglas Elliman, Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International and Luis D. Ortiz of Keller Williams NYC.
The Marble House
To kick off season two, former porn star Eklund is enlisted by movie producer Stuart Parr to help sell the so-called Marble House, a penthouse at 60 Collister Street decked out in — what else? —marble and complete with a 45-foot swimming pool.
What viewers are not told is that Parr, who introduces himself as the owner of the property, does not hold title to the 9,200-square-foot residence. He was an investor in the partnership that owned the building before it was purchased by developer VE Equities. Parr was obligated contractually to buy the property by the spring of 2013, as previously reported, or he would lose his right to it. The property had been and off the market several times, starting in February 2009 with a $24 million asking price, before the time Eklund took over.
On the show, Eklund agrees to a 30-day contract to sell the property, with an asking price of $17.5 million, and hosts a broker open house at the property during the first episode. (Serhant crashes the party and strips his shirt off to jump in the pool with a female model.)
While the episode did not show the Mable House saga through to its close, Eklund did not succeed in selling the property within 30 days — or at all.
After several more price drops — first to $15.8 million in October and then to $14.995 million in November — Parr finally had to buy the home in March. He acquired it for $9.47 million and complained to the New York Times last week that Eklund had spent too much time filming the show and not enough marketing the apartment.
Viewers also watched Serhant take on an assignment from a representative of Kesao Fukae, head of a Japanese retail conglomerate and the sole shareholder of EH National Bank in Beverly Hills, to sell his penthouse at the Park Imperial building at 230 West 56th Street.
Fukae bought the apartment for $6.25 million in 2006, records show, and had listed it for sale several times since 2010, at a price of $8.99 million and then $7.9 million, before turning to Serhant.
Fukae’s representative tells Serhant that the executive wanted to stay with his most recent asking price of $8.5 million, even though the home had been on the market — with several brokers — for more than two years. Serhant doesn’t seem convinced, but in an impulsive move suggests freshening up the listing by raising the price by $300,000. The move might generate curiosity and create more foot traffic, he suggests. Fukae’s representative agrees to try out the tactic.
The penthouse attracts interest from Jim Ferraro, a well-known Miami litigator and former owner of the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, who owns an adjoining apartment. Ferraro is unimpressed with the price but eventually comes to a deal with Fukae at $7.75 million after a series of negotiations.
Ferraro first purchased at the building in 2010, records show, buying a five-bedroom pad for $8.18 million, roughly $4 million short of the $12.5 million asking price.
On the show, the deal finally falls into place as Serhant and Ferraro’s broker, Elliman’s Oren Alexander, are about to walk the catwalk at a fashion show. The Real Deal attended the show, in which both brokers walked, which was held at Pier 59 as part of Nolcha Fashion Week.
The deal closed for $7.75 million in November. The apartment is now available as a rental asking $18,000 a month, according to StreetEasy.
16 Minetta Lane
Ortiz, the newest member of the cast, works with architect Adam Kushner of KUSHNERstudios and his wife, Louise Chuu. The couple is looking for a 25-foot townhouse fixer-upper in the West Village for under $4 million — a nearly impossible ask, according to Ortiz.
The newbie finds an off-market property for the couple at 16 Minetta Lane, between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street, where the buyer had been trying to sell his property for several years but had taken it off the market after it didn’t find an appropriate buyer. The townhouse was last asking $3.75 million before it was pulled last year, according to StreetEasy.
Ortiz convinces the owner, who bought the property for $2.1 million in 2009, according to records, to let Kushner and Chuu to view the building, which comes with a solarium. The owner says he will still sell the property but only for its full former asking price of $3.75 million.
However, when the couple likes the property and makes an offer for the full ask, the seller changes his mind and tells Ortiz that he wants to try for an extra $100,000. The move prompts Ortiz to call him an “asshole.”
The first episode leaves the deal on a cliffhanger, but records show the building did trade. In mid-December, Kushner and his wife purchased the townhouse for $3.75 million, the agreed-upon asking price, according to property records.