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Deals & Dealmakers

NYC the ‘Swiss bank’ of investors

By Holly Dutton

You can take New York City real estate to the bank.

Releasing his firm’s third quarter sales market report last week, Massey Knakal rainmaker Bob Knakal reported sales so far this year have already surpassed 2013’s annual total by more than $500 million.

“New York City real estate today is what Swiss bank accounts used to be,” said Knakal, noting that the number one motivation for foreign investors looking at the city as a place to put their money, is that if they want their money back, they’ll be able to get it.


“So many new first-time buyers are coming in from around the country and around the globe,” said Knakal.

According to numbers from the firm, the annual dollar total in 2013 was $38.4 billion. The total so far in 2014 is $39.1 billion, with an expected year-end total of $52.2 billion.

Property sales have reached 3,833 as of the 3Q 2014, nearly reaching the total number of properties sold in all of 2013, which was 3,929.

Massey Knakal is forecasting a year-end total of 5,100 total sales in 2014, which would exceed the pre-recession high of 5,018 recorded in 2007.

Once again, the outer boroughs were a standout in the market report, with those markets hitting a record high in the number of properties sold.

Ridgewood, Queens, has been a standout in 2014 sales, and is on track to become the most active neighborhood this year in terms of the number of buildings sold in Queens.

“Investors are taking advantage of Williamsburg and Bushwick spillover,” said Adrian Mercado, vice president of research at Massey Knakal.

Since 2010, the number of properties sold in Ridgewood has skyrocketed 718 percent, from 15 in 2010, to 123 in 2014, annualized.

Astoria is second to Ridgewood for most properties sold in Queens, with an increase of 285 percent since 2010, from 25 in 2010 to 96 in 2014, also an annualized number.

The outer borough of Queens has shown strong activity, with dollar volume on track to exceed the pre-recession high by $400 million. Massey Knakal expects the number of buildings sold in the borough to increase by 34 percent from 2013.

In Brooklyn, the song remained the same, with the borough’s dollar volume hitting $5.1 billion so far this year, higher than any other full year. Each of the three quarters this year had a dollar volume of $1.7 billion in Brooklyn, numbers that strongly surpassed the quarterly average of $900 million from 2005 to 2007.

Prices jumped as well, with the average price per square foot for Brooklyn properties increasing by 13.9 percent since 2013. For all properties, the average price per s/f was $308 in the 3Q, up 40 percent since 2009. Elevator properties in particular have shown the strongest growth rates, with an average price per s/f in the 3Q of $312, a 172 percent jump since 2009.

Michael Amirkhanian, director of sales at Massey Knakal with a focus on Brooklyn, said the numbers reflect “the demand for new and modern elevator buildings.”

Northern Manhattan once again had a strong showing, with an influx of institutional buyers sending property sales off the charts. In 2014, 470 buildings are expected to sell, which would be an increase of 17 percent from the former record high of 2013.

The high demand in Northern Manhattan is pushing up price per s/f prices. Average price per s/f in the 3Q was $313, up 23 percent from 2013. Walk-up buildings and mixed-use building had the strongest growth rates, at 31 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

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