Tracking NYC’s co-op sales records

Prices escalating "more than we’ve ever seen before:" Jonathan Miller

TRD New York /
Oct.October 22, 2014 08:00 AM

Prices at the top of New York City’s co-op market are catching up to the stratospheric levels seen at some of the city’s swankiest new condo buildings, with record prices rising nearly 50 percent since 2012.

“We’re in an era of records being broken on a regular basis,” said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, in part due to the “global phenomenon of wealthy investors.”

The pricing jump was also partly due to a “shift in viewpoint for unique and high end real estate,” as is seen in the high-end condo market. While records are usually broken every few years, “we’re seeing this at a bigger escalation than we’ve ever seen before,” Miller said.

But while the top of the co-op market is heating up — the record for most expensive co-op has been broken twice already this year — it’s not necessarily indicative of the rest of the co-op market.

In the third quarter of 2014, Miller said, the median price of a co-op was $737,500, a 4.6 percent increase from the year before. This represents less than 10 percent of the new co-op sales record.

“The shows you how extreme the number really is,” Miller said. “There is a tremendous amount of disparity between this very small segment of the market and everyone else.”

Co-ops are also perceived by some as being more exclusive than condos. Whereas condos turn over regularly, co-ops often stay in the hands of the same families and don’t come to market that often, said real estate attorney Edward Mermelstein.

“Most of the buyers along Fifth and Park avenues tend to be there for life,” Mermelstein said.

There remains a gap, however. Co-op prices are yet to crack the $90 million mark set by new development condos such as Extell Development’s One57.

But Mermelstein said that co-ops would continue to catch up. “It’s just inevitable,” he said.

In light of the new $80 million record set this month by Leonard Blavatnik at 834 Fifth Avenue, The Real Deal composed a list of co-op records that have been set since 2005.

1. 834 Fifth Avenue penthouse, $80 million, October 2014

The most recent record was set this week, with Leonard Blavatnik’s purchase of Jets owner Woody Johnson’s sprawling duplex on the 11th and 12th floors of 834 Fifth Avenue. The Ukranian-born businessman — the 32nd richest man in the world, according to Forbes — paid $5 million more than the asking price for the unit in the 16-story Rosario Candela-designed Art Deco building. Johnson initially listed the unit for $75 million.

2. 740 Park Avenue duplex, $71.3 million, June 2014

Hedge fund manager Israel Englander bought this 18-room unit at 740 Park Avenue, marking the second time the record was broken in 2014. He bought the unit from the French government, which had owned the unit since 1979. The billionaire reportedly bought the co-op as a pied-a-terre for his children, and paid well over the initial asking price of $48 million.

3. 960 Fifth Avenue penthouse, $70 million, June 2014

Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris  bought the late Edgar Bronfman’s five-bedroom penthouse, which boasts eight bathrooms and a wraparound terrace with Central Park views. The apartment was listed for $65 million with Brown Harris Stevens.

4. 785 Fifth Avenue penthouse, $54 million, November 2012

Music mogul David Geffen bought the penthouse at 785 Fifth Avenue for $54 million from Denise Rich, who initially asked $65 million for the 12,000-square-foot unit. Geffen already owned a $14.7 million unit in the building.

5. 740 Park Avenue duplex, $52.5 million, May 2012

Oaktree Capital Management co-founder Howard Marks set the first record of 2012 — and the first one since 2008 — by buying this duplex at 740 Park Avenue that belonged to, and was assembled by, Time Warner chairman Steve Ross. The duplex includes two dining rooms, six terraces, eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Ross died in 1992, after which the duplex was in his wife’s hands.

6. 1060 Fifth Avenue duplex, $48.9 million, July 2008

Scott Bommer, founder of hedge fund SAB Capital, set two records in 2008. The second one set the most expensive co-op sale for the next four years. He sold a duplex at 1060 Fifth Avenue after purchasing it only seven months earlier for $46 million. Bommer and his wife Donya reportedly didn’t renovate the house in the seven months that they owned it.

7. 2 East 67th Street, $48 million, July 2008

For a short stint, Loews Hotels Chairman Jonathan Tisch was the owner of the most expensive co-op ever in New York. In early July, he paid $48 million for the 14-room, Central Park-facing 11th-floor unit. The initial asking price for the full-floor unit was $40 million. Angelika Ronson, widow of British developer Howard Ronson, sold the unit to Tisch.

8. 1060 Fifth Avenue, two units, $46 million, January 2008

Bommer set the year’s first record by buying two units at 1060 Fifth Avenue for a combined $46 million. Together, the units provided a total of 17 rooms — including seven bedrooms — divided over two floors at 1060 Fifth Avenue. Bommer broke the record that was set three years earlier, in 2005.

9. 834 Fifth Avenue triplex, $44 million, December 2005

Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife Wendi Deng bought the unit together in 2005. The triplex sprawls across the 14th through 16th floors and includes 4,000 square feet of Private Terrace space. The building’s co-op board requires its residents to pay for the units in cash. At the time, Murdoch bought the unit from the estate of Laurance S. Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller.

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