During the recession, as financing vanished and condo prices plummeted, the city’s real estate market was flooded with ultra-luxurious rentals. Developers, eager to fill what had been envisioned as condo towers, offered renters top-of-the-line finishes, sprawling floorplans and master-of-the-universe views—perks long denied to those who borrowed rather than bought.
And though such unprecedented luxuries came with unprecedented price tags—a penthouse at New York by Gehry debuted for $60,000 a month—renters materialized all the same. Brokers cooed about this new breed of renter, who preferred a lease to a deed not because of circumstance or financial necessity, but because they craved convenience and flexibility. Not so frequently discussed were the many would-be buyers swelling the ranks of luxury renters who would, presumably, abandon the high-rental market as soon as the housing market rebounded.
Buildings along the southern lip of Manhattan are still pumping water from their basements almost two weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo led a chorus of voices warning that violent storms and extreme weather patterns are the new normal. But the market for residential real estate seems, by and large, completely unphased. Hurricane Sandy may have flooded the city, but she has not dampened the desire to buy real estate in Lower Manhattan. At least not yet.
It is, of course, still early to judge what effect, if any, the hurricane will have on the Manhattan market, but real estate professionals say that cold—and wet—feet have not been an issue in showings and closings during the weeks since Sandy hit. (Banks, on the other hand, are feeling less confident, with a number insisting on inspections to rule out structural damage for loans on buildings in Zone A, even those that have long been in contract.)
the way things were
“This is an incredible thing. It’s new. No human society in all of history has organized life in this way,” enthused NYU sociology professor Eric Klinenberg. He had met The Observer at Jacques Torres in Hudson Square to discuss his new book, Going Solo, which investigates what Mr. Klinenberg sees as a desire of a large number of people to live alone. In the book he coins the term “singleton” for this supposed emerging group—take that, BoBos!—and he calls Manhattan “the capital of singletons.”
“The typical New Yorker gets married after 30 these days,” said Mr. Klinenberg, “and they have children even later. We had a huge number of years where we used to live with other people. Now we’re free to do what we want to do.” In his book, Mr. Klinenberg cites numerous statistics over the past 50 years that do show a gradual shift in this direction, from the standard (expected) nuclear family to the rise of what he calls “the cult of the individual.”
“Most people we interviewed said that after a few years of living with roommates they are ready for a place of their own.” Mr. Klinenberg said. He has a whole host of reasons why: “Roommates who don’t pay rent on time, roommates who don’t like the person you are dating …” etc., etc.
The idea of the New York loner is as old as the city itself. Look no further than the solemn, solitary Statue of Liberty. But recent trends actually point away from a city of “singletons,” not toward one.
Buy Buy Buy
The sky is falling! Wall Street bonuses are down! New York is doomed, just as its foal-like housing market began to hobble back to life.
That was old New York, though. This is new, diversified, smart New York, where the FIRE has been put out and it’s up to everybody (especially the foreigners) to pitch in. Read More
This much we know: In Manhattan, there is a growing supply of empty apartments that, due to a combination of overpricing, bad timing and lack of demand, cannot find tenants willing to sign the dotted line. This is unfamiliar territory for landlords, who have conducted business in an environment that, for the past several years, Read More