Editor’s note: Our transient times

May.May 01, 2014 07:00 AM
Stuart Elliott

Stuart Elliott

As blasphemous as it might be to write in a real estate magazine, it hardly seems like people even need homes anymore.

In the era of cloud storage and the “share economy,” it’s almost like you could walk around with just the clothes on your back and be fine — at least if you live in New York and have a little bit of money to your name.

These days you can be a millionaire, but live with the freedom of a transient.

Think about it. What sort of stuff do you need to put in a house these days?

Forget desktops, even laptops — today most of us could plan our weekends, do all our work and even engineer a satellite launch from the phone in our pockets. You don’t need a car, or a garage to store it — just sign up for a Zipcar — or better yet, hop on a Citi Bike. You can do all your shopping through Amazon Prime and have it delivered to your office (like I do).

Your office can be a shared space, for a month or even a day, provided by a company like WeWork or Regus. And to rest your head for the night, you can rent an apartment through Airbnb, the website currently locked in a battle with the hotel industry. And for a mid-day nap (or something more illicit), there are new companies (like Breather) that have apartments available for rent by the hour.

New Yorkers have, of course, always led the way in terms of on-the-go trends, from taxis to take-out.

So with the budding share economy and the rent-don’t-buy fad, it might seem plausible that there would be a trend toward people needing less space and smaller apartments.

But the exact opposite seems to be true in the residential market. In our annual ranking of Manhattan’s top brokerages, our cover story this month, we found that most firms have been thriving off of selling large, not small, apartments.

That’s because these are the days of the New York City mega-apartment, with developers largely building super-luxury units for families and foreigners.

As a share of all Manhattan sales, four-bedroom-plus apartment transactions rose significantly in 2014’s first quarter compared to the same time the year before, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. And the average sales price for apartments overall jumped 31 percent year-over-year, an astronomical rise.

All this was good news for residential brokerages, whose listings we tallied.

While Manhattan’s 12 biggest firms had fewer listings overall, the listings they had were a lot pricier. Overall, the top 12 firms had a total of $12.7 billion in exclusive Manhattan sales listings, up about 52 percent from $8.5 billion in 2013.

Elsewhere in the issue, we’ve got plenty of coverage that ties in with this month’s massive ICSC retail conference in Las Vegas, which draws many industry pros from New York for networking and lavish parties.

We take a look at the top-grossing retail buildings in Manhattan, examine which tenants are taking store space in the World Trade Center and sit down with retail guru Jeff Winick, who talked about his collection of Rolexes and being an inveterate deal junkie, in “The Closing.”

We also take an inside look at Manhattan’s most talked-about new condo, One57, and profile investor Adam Hochfelder, who famously crashed and burned during the last real estate boom and wound up in prison. Since his 2012 release, he’s quietly rejoined the real estate game.

Finally, don’t miss TRD’s New Development Showcase on May 15 at the Altman Building in Chelsea. Over 2,000 real estate enthusiasts are expected to attend and view the 30-plus new development sales booths and models from New York City and Miami. Get more details at TheRealDeal.com/Forum.

Enjoy the issue!


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