Buying High, Selling High? Luxury Properties in the Post-Luxury Era

New York City's real estate market has certainly seen its bumps and bruises over the last couple of years, but according to sales agents in the Manhattan luxury market, buyers are still buying – but their faces have changed, and they're operating with a little less of the irrational exuberance that characterized the market in the early 2000s.

Toward the height of the city's unprecedented real estate boom a few years ago, media outlets and consumers took keen interest in breathless descriptions of the city's ultra-luxe living spaces and the dizzying sums paid for them. From old-money Park Avenue mansions to sprawling Downtown mega-lofts, for a time space-starved New Yorkers treated the property listing pages almost as a new form of porn.

Now that the proverbial bubble has burst however, the jaw-dropping apartments of recent years are sitting on the market longer and seeing their price tags adjusted downward as buyers shy away from the cost of some of the city's most luxurious properties—not just for financial reasons, but because conspicuous consumption is so 2005.

Slow on the Draw

According to Kirk Henckels, executive vice president and director of Stribling Private Brokerage in New York, the biggest sale in 2009 was in December for $40 million.“It was a high, full floor cooperative at 820 Fifth Avenue which is one of the most prestigious buildings in New York,” he explains. “This price works out to over $5,000 per square foot.”

He says that the second highest sale, also in December, was for a penthouse at 15 Central Park West that sold for $38.6 million.The highest cooperative sales in 2008 and 2007 were $48.8 million and $37.5 million, respectively.

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