It has been a busy and frenzied 2013. I'm just emerging from a bidding war in which my clients were competing with a couple from Saint Petersburg, Russia, who kept upping their bid, sight-unseen, for a 1,000-square-foot condominium apartment in a gorgeous boutique building steps from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a most coveted Upper East Side neighborhood. After much stressful maneuvering, we eventually won the bid - over the asking price and far above the average price per square foot of previous sales in the building. This seems to have become the norm these past few months. The Manhattan market has a serious imbalance of housing supply to demand.
Inventory is at historic lows. Whereas the number of Manhattan residences for sale on average has been in the mid-8,000 range, the current numbers are in the low 4,000s. There is renewed confidence in the New York residential market and buyers who were waiting on the sidelines since the collapse of Lehman Brothers are coming back with a vengeance. We're clearly in an "up market." Buyers want to take advantage of the historically low interest rates and to avoid being priced out of the market.
In many ways, it's a stronger market than the peak in 2008. A duplex penthouse atop a new condominium skyscraper on Leonard Street in Tribeca recently went under contract for $47 million, a record for a condo sale in downtown Manhattan. The previous record for downtown was set last fall when a 5-bedroom penthouse on Gramercy Park went into contract for the full asking price of $42 million. These numbers, however, still lag behind those in the latest glass towers in Midtown Manhattan. At One57, the new development on West 57th Street, two apartments are said to be in contract for $90 million or more and at 432 Park Avenue, a slender tower on the corner of 56th Street, a high-floor penthouse is said to be under contract for $95 million. Whereas at the peak in 2008, top prices were in the $50 million range, we're now pushing $100 million. At these stratospheric levels, demand is for trophy properties with views in iconic buildings. Also going up in the midtown corridor is the Baccarat Hotel/Condominium and plans have been announced for a building atop the Steinway Hall.
It's a race skyward of extraordinarily tall buildings with residences that enjoy sweeping views. New York is in high demand. It's a thrilling time to be living in this incredibly vibrant city and to witness the exciting and historic transformation of its skyline by visionary developers.
Bahar Tavakolian is senior vice president of Stribling & Associates, a luxury property specialist in New York City.