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A flurry of $30 million-plus transactions — including the $39 million February sale of the Vanderbilt Mansion, which was owned by late Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth Ross Johnson, to game developer Tianqiao Chen — can’t mask a hard New York real estate truth: Total sales across Manhattan are down nearly 25 percent in the first quarter of 2018, the steepest decline since 2009, and prices in the luxury sector dipped 15 percent in that same period, according to a Douglas Elliman report. Inventory, meanwhile, is up more than 4 percent.
It’s still New York — which boasts three of the U.S.’ top 20 priciest ZIP codes (10013, 10007, 10282), according to a recent ranking by Property Shark — but “buyers aren’t just going to write a check for any amount,” says Compass’ Leonard Steinberg.
Insiders attribute the slowdown partly to “legacy contracts,” which were set into motion at the height of the superluxury development boom in 2014-15 but didn’t close until 2016 and ’17, spiking stats for those years. Another factor: Today’s product is not quite as high-end, says Jonathan Miller, president of consulting company Miller Samuel and author of the Elliman report, who adds that a new cap on state and local tax deductions also has given buyers pause. “It’s not that New York has a weak market,” he notes. “But we’re transitioning from an unusually robust period to a not-so-robust period driven largely by uncertainty.”
To help buyers navigate the shifting sands, THR has identified 10 real estate stars — the agents who scored the biggest sales of 2017 and boast 2018’s hottest listings.
Erin Boisson Aries
While still at Brown Harris Stevens, Aries and her team were responsible for the $450 million sellout of 551W21, a 44-unit luxury tower. At the beginning of 2018, she joined Christie’s recently launched brokerage, where she’s now advising “some of the most affluent buyers and sellers in the world,” she says. And she brought some business with her: She has the listing for a $36.5 million apartment at 551W21, reportedly being sold by Karen Lo, the Hong Kong billionaire (heiress to the Vitasoy beverage empire) and philanthropist.
She grew up in the upper echelons of Manhattan society and is the sister-in-law of developer Aby Rosen. But connections alone don’t account for Boardman’s success. The highest producer at Sotheby’s, she has broken the record for priciest sale in Manhattan several times over. She was one of the seller’s agents on the Vanderbilt Mansion and is now showing the $70 million duplex at the Pierre Hotel.
Raphael De Niro
With his team averaging more than $250 million in annual sales, De Niro (son of Robert) has worked with stars including Renee Zellweger and Jon Bon Jovi, listing the rocker’s 150 Charles St. duplex for $17.25 million in June (it sold in February for $15 million). For clients who are ducking the paparazzi, he recommends the recently restored 108 Leonard in Tribeca, designed by renowned turn-of-the-century architecture firm McKim, Mead & White: Its private drive-up reception area with valet is a Manhattan rarity — not to mention its turn-of-the-century Italian and Sicilian stonework. “To build a building like this today would be outrageously expensive,” he says. “It’s irreplaceable.”
Eklund, who recently applied for his California real estate license, moved to New York 14 years ago with a pair of sneakers (“Literally, that’s all I had”) and no plan. Now the Stockholm native has more than $5 billion in career sales and is a Bravo star, appearing on Million Dollar Listing New York and the spinoff Bethenny & Fredrik with Bethenny Frankel. Current projects include 75 Kenmare, with interiors by Lenny Kravitz Design, and 1 Seaport, the luxury tower in which Eklund also owns an apartment.
Lambert, whose clients have included Disney chief Bob Iger and Julia Roberts, is selling Robert A.M. Stern’s Two Fifty West 81st Street, one of that neighborhood’s few new developments in years, as well as the West Village’s Shephard, where she recently sold a $34 million penthouse by combining two apartments.
Clients don’t want to see her on TV, says Lippman. “They want discretion, which is great, because that’s how I do things.” That attitude has made her the highest-grossing broker at Brown Harris Stevens for 2016 and 2017, with more than $250 million in sales for 2017 alone. She was a listing agent on the Riverside Drive penthouse Amy Schumer purchased for $12.2 million in 2016, and her current listings include a $13.95 million seven-bedroom in the Aldyn in Lincoln Square.
Pashby, whose past clients include Annie Liebovitz, has been working on Fifteen Hudson Yards, the first residential tower (opening this year) in the Far West Side’s long-awaited city-within-a-city. She also has a $29.5 million penthouse listing at Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard.
Another Million Dollar Listing star, Serhant says 2017 was his biggest year, with $840 million in sales and star clients like Leonardo DiCaprio. But 2018 could be another banner year, with the April 11 premiere of his Bravo spinoff Sell It Like Serhant and a book by the same name out in September. He has $1.2 billion in active listings at towers like One57 and the Austin Nichols House, a warehouse in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg that’s being converted by Kushner Cos. Yes, that Kushner.
The “irrational lux-uberancy” at the ultra high end of the market is finally over, says Steinberg, the president of Compass’ New York brokerage who is showing Mike Myers’ SoHo penthouse, listed for $13.95 million. He sees a much more balanced market in 2018, though that still includes a $65 million penthouse he’s showing at 100 E. 53rd St. Steinberg also is handling sales at One Beekman, the first U.S. residential building designed by London’s Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The 25-story tower is across from City Hall.
The Dakota, the Majestic, the Eldorado: Taub has sales in some of New York’s most iconic buildings (with a total of more than $1.8 billion to her credit). Although she doesn’t like to “kiss and tell,” she’s reportedly worked with the likes of David Byrne and Nate Ruess. For star buyers, she says, it’s either downtown or Central Park West — where she holds the listing on a $16.5 million four-bedroom with “killer views” at 101 CPW.
This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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