Barbarians at the Door: 1-in-3 Condos Bought by Foreigners

united nations Barbarians at the Door: 1 in 3 Condos Bought by Foreigners

Give us your tired, your weary, your wealthy.

Wonder why luxury real estate is so expensive and hard to find these days? Blame the foreigners!

A report from Stribling released Friday gives some hard numbers to something New Yorkers have been complaining for years: foreigners are buying up all the best apartments. According to Crain’s, the brokerage claims that about 33 percent of all condo purchasers and 15 percent of all buyers in New York City are from other countries. When the housing market was stronger, foreigners comprised up to 30 percent of all property buyers in the city.

But why do foreigners have such a propensity to snatch up prime real estate in New York? Aside from the obvious reasons (New York is, of course, the capital the world), apparently out-of-towners tend to have lots of cold, hard cash, something absolutely irresistible to Big Apple brokers.

On the bright side, foreigners are largely credited with keeping the city’s housing market afloat. On the downside, they drive up prices for the rest of us.

Other revelations? Foreigners like both modern and pre-war buildings and come from all corners of the globe.

New York City property has long attracted foreign buyers, a trend that took off in 1976 when the Olympic Tower opened on Fifth Avenue and East 51st Street, according to Stribling. It noted that foreign buyers are attracted to new modern, glassy towers as well as pre-war properties that have been converted into luxury condos. The brokerage also noted that biggest overseas buyers today are those in Russia, China, Brazil and Argentina. Back in the early years of the new millennium it was Europeans, led by the Irish who led the charge in New York.

Should you manage to sneak your way into a condo building, odds are at least one neighbor on either side of you will be a Russian oligarch or Saudi oil baron with a suitcase full of cash.

eknutsen@observer.com