The Resilience of Luxury Real Estate


Sophie Doran | April 05, 2011

Recent reports suggest that London, Paris & New York still rule the luxury real estate roost, as all three hotspots continue to attract the biggest global buyers

Candy & Candy’s One Hyde Park, London

Recent reports suggest that London, Paris & New York still rule the luxury real estate roost, as all three hotspots continue to attract the biggest global buyers.

The anticipation of the 2012 Olympic Games has seen a surge of activity within the luxury hotels sector, and a similar speed of activity within the real estate market, as investors rush to beat an impending property-tax increase. Again proving London’s relevance as a luxury capital, the Move Channel recently reported that luxury sales, or properties valued from £1 million to £3 million, made up 78% of total property transactions in the city centre over the past year.

And whilst the Candy brothers ambitious One Hyde Park development may have been met with scepticism at its inception four years ago, it has been disclosed that a penthouses has been sold for over £135m, to an unknown foreign tycoon, who has ordered a further £50m of interior works. Experts are arguing this could be the world’s most expensive apartment to date. The development required a loan of £1.1bn and continued throughout the worst financial crisis on record. However after selling 50 of the 80 apartments on offer, Nick Candy revealed this week that over £900m of the loan has already been repaid, with the remaining balance to be settled by the end of April.

A 375sqm, 6 bedroom apartment in Paris’s 16th arrondissement, currently listed for €6.8 million on Sotheby’s Realty

Across the channel in Paris, apartment prices have allegedly never been higher, a result of ‘a housing shortage aggravated by high demand’ reports the New York Times. Commenting on the current Parisian luxury housing climate, real estate agent Yves Raphalen remarked: “Many French people lost money in the crisis in 2008 and 2009 in the stock market, but the real estate in Paris stayed strong, so no one wants to sell. Two years ago I had 1,000 houses and apartments to sell in Paris — today, I’ve got only 500.” His agency, Belles demeures de France Fine Residences, is an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.

Bloomberg are also confident the city of love has shrugged off the financial crisis, reporting that apartment prices have increased approximately 20 percent in 2010, and suggesting the trend will continue in 2011.

And even a fickle market in New York is showing signs of improvement, in both the city centre and luxury weekend destination The Hampton’s. Records for February demonstrate a surge in contracts signed on properties listed at more than $4 million, estimated at 70 contractual agreements, the number is the highest it has been since January 2007, well before the housing crisis crushed the high-end market. As the average home price in The Hampton’s [“increased 20 percent”:] in the fourth quarter, lifted by a surge in sales of properties priced at $5 million or higher.

Frank Woolworth’s former estate, off Fifth Avenue in New York, currently listed at $90 million on Christies International Real Estate

And even over on the West Coast records are being broken, with the news that Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has paid $100 million for a California mansion, which records suggest is the most ever paid for a home in the United States. The mansion includes two dining rooms, a ballroom, living room, game room, security room, a maid’s room, an exercise room, a sauna and spa, an indoor pool, two three-car garages, a carwash and tennis courts.

And the confident results are not limited to the two culture capitals of the United States, CNN reports that ‘sales of million-dollar homes and condos increased last year in all 20 major metro areas — with some cities seeing an 18.6 percent increase in high-end home sales, following four consecutive years of declines in million-dollar homes.’

Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty and producer of a weekly report on luxury market sales and contracts, remarked that “although February could still be an anomaly, every week was strong, so we’re moving from accident to pattern and actually being able to ask, ‘Will this be a trend?”

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