2010 brought ‘sense of relief’ for many industry pros

But market still struggling

As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time to assess the state of the New York City real estate industry. At this time last year, the real estate market was showing signs of improvement from the disastrous Lehman Brothers aftermath. And throughout 2010, industry professionals were pleased to see that continue, with prices stabilizing and sales activity returning to normal seasonal patterns.

“For the real estate community, 2010 was a year of a sense of relief,” said Jonathan Miller, the CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

To get a sense of how the high-end market fared this year, The Real Deal compiled a list of the 50 priciest residential sales of 2010 so far. Many of these deals made headlines this year and involve boldface names, like fashion designer Elie Tahari, who sold his Soho penthouse for $27.5 million. Late-night host Conan O’Brien, meanwhile, moved to Los Angeles for a new show on TBS, selling his Manhattan apartment for $25 million. But The Real Deal also got the scoop on some deals that haven’t received much attention, like Steve Wynn’s Plaza penthouse flip. The casino mogul closed on the 20th-floor apartment this summer for $23.46 million, then sold it last month for around $1 million more than he paid.

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Ranging in price from roughly $14 million to $44 million, nearly all of these 50 properties sold for less than their listing prices. While the biggest sale of 2010 — the Duke Semans mansion — doesn’t compare to the $50 million-plus deals of the mid-2000s, it was an improvement over the previous year, when the priciest deal was a $40 million sale at 820 Fifth Avenue.

As part of our series of 2010 stories, we also recognized the people and projects that performed best this year in the face of difficult conditions. To compile our “Tops in Manhattan Real Estate” list, we conducted an online survey, then solicited input from industry veterans and StreetEasy, while also relying on our own judgment.

And to give readers a taste of what’s in store for 2011, we asked experts to weigh in on the new must-have technologies for real estate professionals in the coming year.