In a Manhattan market rife with tales of bidding wars and multiple price hikes, it’s hard to think of high-end units trading at a steep discount. But certain sales in some of the city’s most storied buildings have done just that.
The Real Deal asked Miller Samuel to dig up the ten Manhattan apartment sales with the greatest discounts – defined as the difference between original listing price and sale price — in the second quarter of 2013, ranked by dollar value. The data turned up apartments in celebrated buildings, including the Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street, Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue and the Time Warner Center at 25 Columbus Circle.
“In a period with historically low inventory, this shows the idea that you can’t apply overall market metrics to individual apartments,” said Jonathan Miller, principal at Miller Samuel. Even in a market with “chronically tight supply,” double-digit discounts were possible, he said.
For example, at 15 East 69th Street on the Upper East Side, a 3,161-square-foot, three-bedroom unit marketed by Douglas Elliman’s Daniela Kunen was originally listed for $15 million in February 2012. This June, it sold for $10.76 million. The $4.25 million spread amounts to a discount of roughly 28 percent, the data show.
“The apartment was exceptional in terms of light, views, ceiling height and condition,” Kunen told The Real Deal. When asked to comment on the sizable discount, Kunen said that “the market seeks its level,” adding that multiple bids had been made on the apartment.
And at 1010 Fifth Avenue, a four-bedroom co-op sold by a trust tied to the New York Times’ Sulzberger family went for $12.5 million in April of this year, having originally been listed in November 2012 for $14 million.
Listing brokers Patricia Wheatley and Sheila Ellis of Sotheby’s International Realty pointed out that the deal represented “a record breaking sale price for the ‘A’ line” at the building.
The “last true” sale in that block of co-ops, No. 2A, sold for $9.55 million in September 2008, at the top of the market, Wheatley noted.
Several other brokers on the list, including John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens and Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s, either declined to comment or could not be reached.
Elliman’s Gail Sankarsingh, who wasn’t on the list, said that deals with such discounts were an “anomaly” in such a dynamic market. But large differences in asking and selling prices could sometimes be explained by factors such as whether the seller was just in a dash to sell, in which case “money wasn’t the strongest motivator.”
Or, in the case of sponsor units in new developments, it could be that the buyer had a relationship with the developer, Sankarsingh said.
Certain high-end apartments may be priced unrealistically, according to broker Gea Elika of Elika Associates, who wasn’t on the list. “It’s probably because there’s an emotional value for the seller,” or because sellers are testing the market, hoping to stir up interest and ignite a bidding war, he said.
But unlike in the buildup to the last boom, buyers nowadays are savvier, and keep a far firmer grip on their checkbooks, Miller said. The restraint of tight credit made them even more cautious, he added.
And ultimately, it was the sellers who made the final call on pricing and other terms.
“I’d venture to guess that most of these agents set a lower price,” Miller said, but they were overruled by sellers who may have been carried away by the euphoric mood in the market.