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53rd And Eighth-is Is A Solid Investment?
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Global real estate investors are increasingly focusing on the United States as a preferred destination for completing their real estate portfolios. According to a survey conducted by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, New York ranks second among the top cities preferred among foreign real estate investors. As a group of real estate professionals working in affiliation with foreign investors from China, Russia, and Eastern Europe, we will be touring a number of new developments and rental-to-condo conversions this year in an effort to spend the $45 million+ budget allocated by our investors for 2015. The primary goal of many of our high net-worth investors is to invest in residential properties in New York City.
A Tour of 53rd and Eighth
The first stop in our property tour this year was 53rd and Eighth. Marketed as "affordable luxury," 53rd and Eighth has received a tremendous amount of publicity, including in a recent write-up in Curbed. As the article points out, while it might seem contradictory to label a building as affordable when none of the 252 units are priced less than one million dollars, this new rental-to-condo conversion is actually the least expensive new construction in the surrounding area. This naturally brings to mind the question of what the impact of affordable luxury will have on apartment prices across NYC and specifically on resales in condo buildings completed 7 to 10 years ago, such as the LINK 310 West and 52nd Street development. Located in Midtown West, the LINK is often considered the epitome of luxury. In fact, some of our own investors own apartments at the LINK and are considering expanding their portfolios.
Among the primary reasons that we decided to preview the apartments at 53rd and Eighth is that the price point of apartments there is much lower compared to other luxury condominiums for sale in the area. For instance, while a one-bedroom at the LINK has a starting asking price of $1,395,000, a similarly sized apartment at 53rd and Eighty starts at just $1,100,000.
More Amenities and Lower Priced
During our visit, we had an opportunity to speak with the sales agent and learn more about the units at 53rd and Eighth. In terms of quality of living and amenities, the sales agent compared this building with the LINK and PLATINUM, both of which are condominium buildings located in the nearby area. Competitively priced, 53rd and Eighth offers much lower prices on average in addition to the same, if not better amenities and apartments.
It is certainly worth noting that while the apartments at 53rd and Eighth are currently quite attractively priced, they will have a price adjustment and increase the prices in the near future. According to the sale agent, they have had a lot of interest, even though the sales office had only been open for a couple of weeks at the time of our visit.
Where else in Manhattan can you find a 3-bedroom condo for less than $1,800,000? The most popular line apartment in the building is the A-line apartment, which is almost depleted. The agent we spoke with suggested that the apartments here are more aptly termed attainable luxury. Due to the fact that this development is centrally located, they plan to cater their marketing campaigns to working moms who would like to go home and spend time with their kids during their lunch breaks. This development is also great for working professionals who hold jobs at Barclays.
After touring 53rd and Eighth, the final question is whether we believe this building represents a good investment. Based on our research, we might take it slowly and see how this development takes off rather than get involved in the initial hype. There has been no data released as of yet, nor are there any press releases regarding how many contracts have been received at this development. We did have a chance to sneak a peek at a sheet with availability, and based on that, it does not appear that there is a lot of activity.
Beyond that, the apartments are great. Most have washers and dryers, which is an advantage. They have opened the two small bedrooms and converted those into a large bedroom. Those bedrooms that face west and are on a higher floor feature great lighting.
These units would be somewhat easy to rent. We assume that if our investors were to buy, we would be able to rent the one-bedroom apartments for around $4,000 per month and the three-bedroom apartments for around $5,500 per month.
We also have clients who have invested in buildings located nearby, including Centria, Platinum, LINK, Orion, and Dillon, so we will keep an eye out to see how things develop. Currently, we manage several portfolios that net more than $50 million.
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