Condo Sales Slow by 31 Percent As Developers Keep Building

On Sept. 12, a doctor was scheduled to meet Insignia Douglas Elliman senior vice president Michael Shvo and executive vice president Dolly Lenz to sign an $11 million contract to buy a 73rd-floor apartment in the AOL Time Warner Center under construction at 1 Columbus Circle. Mr. Shvo called his client prior to the appointment and asked if he was having second thoughts. “He said no … and he came down and signed his contract,” Mr. Shvo said.

But while the developer of 1 Columbus Circle, the Related Companies, is anxious to have its twin-towered condos appear unscathed after Sept. 11-Related recently issued a press release stating that more than $45 million in condo contracts had been signed since then, bringing total sales to $105 million-there are still 163 condos to sell.

And during the last week of October, while most of the major residential real-estate firms reported a slackening in sales in the condominium market, many condo brokers reported that price reductions and much higher negotiability had officially brought on a buyer’s market.

From July through September, 31 percent fewer condominiums sold compared to April through June, according to Insignia Douglas Elliman. And this at a time when the Real Estate Board of New York says there are 2,320 new condominium units under construction in Manhattan, most of which are currently being marketed as “luxury” apartments and asking hefty prices. (In the year 2000, according to REBNY, 425 new condominium units were completed.)

Lawrence Sicular, who produced a report for Brown Harris Stevens using third-quarter statistics but focusing on transactions after Sept. 11, said the number of condominiums on the market is at its highest level since the company began keeping track of availability in April 1999. A prime offender: the luxury condominium loft. As of Oct. 1, there were 171 on the market, almost 50 percent more than there were at the beginning of September. Going forward, “a more marked increase in available inventory should be expected,” the report says.

Jonathan Miller, of the real-estate appraisal firm Miller Samuels, which produced a third-quarter report for Insignia Douglas Elliman, also emphasized a general slowdown in market activity. “It is reasonable to expect a significant reduction in the number of [condominium] sales in the next few quarters,” he said. Already in the quarter ended Sept. 31, the number of condominium sales was down 18 percent from the same quarter last year. The Elliman report showed 684 condos selling between July and September, compared to 993 in the preceding quarter and 837 in the same period of 2000.

The Corcoran Group did not release a third-quarter report, according to chief marketing officer Anita Perrone, because it would have been misleading. “Our third-quarter numbers would show that [the market is] escalating at a rate that we know is not indicative of what’s happening,” she said. But specialists marketing new condominium developments for the company acknowledged that things are getting tough. “There’s a lot of high-end, large units still available around,” said Ellen Leon, executive vice president of Corcoran Group Marketing, which represents new developments. “Anyone who’s selling-developer, resale-is just being more realistic.”

Karen Gastiaburo, who heads up the Tribeca offices of William B. May, said she has already seen the effects of the glut in lower asking prices. Ms. Gastiaburo said that every apartment for which a William B. May broker held an open house in September had been reduced in price from 5 to 10 percent. “We’re gonna have a flood of available listings. It’s what buyers have been waiting for,” she said. “It will become a buyer’s market.”

But so far, at least, buyers have to be enterprising. “I would be encouraging any buyer to communicate to the seller what it is they think this apartment is worth,” said Paul Purcell, president of Insignia Douglas Elliman. “If a buyer is seeing 10, 15, 20 apartments, they really have a good fix on things, so they’re the ones that are going to tell the sellers whether the prices are too high.”

But don’t try that with AOL Time Warner. “They won’t negotiate 10 cents!” said Mr. Shvo, who is showing all his high-end clients-“all people on the Forbes list,” he said-apartments in the building. “We have a client who’s buying $22 million worth of property there, and he’ll have to pay the asking price.”

Upper East Side

201 East 62nd Street Two-bed, three-and-a-half bath, 1,950-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.195 million. Selling: $1.1 million. Charges: $2,008; 50 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: seven months. MOM AND POP: UNITED, HERE WE COME Even as some scared Manhattanites flee the city for the suburbs, a few brave suburbanites are doing just the opposite. Take the buyers of this two-bedroom apartment on the corner of 62nd Street and Third Avenue. They gave up their home of 40 years in Great Neck to live in style in N.Y.C.-even the events of Sept. 11 weren’t going to stop them. “The closing took place on schedule, even after the World Trade Center attack,” said broker Sherri Benton of Insignia Douglas Elliman. “They clearly felt that they wanted to go forward with their lives as planned.” The buyers’ decision to ditch the country may have been reinforced by the nice layout of their new apartment: It has a long entrance foyer and galley that lead to a living room and dining room; two spacious bedrooms, each with a bath; and an L-shaped kitchen with a window.

Chelsea

241 West 23rd Street Two-bed, two-bath, 1,850-square-foot co-op. Asking: $799,990. Selling: $770,000. Charges: $1,056; 40 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: five months. MAMMA MIA! MEETS A BULLDOZER In theory, the place sounds pretty good: on 23rd Street near Seventh Avenue, with an open kitchen, a spacious dining area and a wall of windows. “It was bright, it was quiet, but anybody who wanted to buy it wanted to bulldoze the whole thing,” said broker Peter Belmonte of the Corcoran Group. The trouble? The place was an 80’s nightmare. “There were curved walls and mirrors and platforms and that sort of thing,” said Mr. Belmonte. “The bathroom had one of those heat lamps that come out of the ceiling, and there was a fresco on the ceiling of Greek gods.” The sellers-a dot-commer who had been (surprise!) out of work for a year and his school-teacher wife-bought the place four years ago from the designer who’d remodeled the apartment. The buyers will indeed “bulldoze” everything, including taking out the curved walls, taking down the mirrors and redoing the floors, the kitchen and the bathrooms.

Carnegie Hill Renovated townhouse sells for slashed price

James T. Conneen, the chairman and founder of A.T. Hudson, an international management-consulting firm with headquarters in New Jersey, sold his townhouse at 69 East 91st Street on Oct. 22, after agreeing to take significantly less than the asking price. The house had been on the market for $8.9 million, but sources say the deal closed for less than $7 million.

Mr. Conneen graduated from St. Peter’s College and subsequently got a law degree from New York University of Law. He founded A.T. Hudson in 1975 and has been its chairman ever since. In 1997, he co-founded Hudson Venture Partners, a high-tech venture-capital firm.

He bought this five-and-a-half-story townhouse in 1992 for $2 million and then, according to his broker, Jackie Vincent of the Corcoran Group, redid the whole thing. “He spent a lot of time and money on the renovations,” she said. For several years, he used the townhouse-which has five bedrooms, a paneled library, a game room and large eat-in kitchen and family room-as his primary residence. But Mr. Conneen traveled a lot on business and had other properties, Ms. Vincent said, so this became more space than he needed.

In mid-March, he put the place on the market for $8.9 million. Even though the townhouse market was slowing down, there was still a fair amount of interest in the place, partially because it’s in a prime section of Carnegie Hill, partially due to the garage, elevator, two roof decks and 30-foot-deep landscaped garden. By May, interested buyers were coming to take a second look. A contract was signed in early July.

Hamptons record breaker? David Campbell accepts $49 Million Offer For Burnt Point

Copper trader David Campbell, president of Global Minerals and Metals Corp., has accepted an offer to sell Burnt Point, his 25-acre property in Wainscott, L.I., for $49 million, according to sources familiar with the deal. Mr. Campbell did not return a call for comment.

Brokers warned that the buyer-a Greek national-has not come up with a deposit or signed a contract as of yet. Said one: “I heard the buyer [is having] problems getting the money.”

If the deal goes through, this will be the largest sale that the Hamptons has ever seen, beating the former record-holder, Jerry Seinfeld’s purchase of Billy Joel’s 11-acre estate in Amagansett, by $17 million.

But it won’t be the first time that Burnt Point, which features 2,000 square feet of land right on Georgica Pond, breaks a Hamptons record. When Mr. Campbell bought the place about five and a half years ago, he paid $10 million-at the time, the most anyone had ever paid for land in the Hamptons.

There were no structures on the site at the time; now there are several. Mr. Campbell hired Francis Fleetwood to design an 18,000-square-foot house (it was finished a little more than two years ago). Reached by a gated driveway, it overlooks the pond and has geothermal air conditioning, a temperature-controlled wine cellar, 20 phone lines, eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and a basement “strong room.” To that he added two barns, a greenhouse, a pavilion near the tennis court, a boathouse, a private dock and a waterside gazebo.

Even if this deal doesn’t go through, however, Tina Fredericks of Tina S. Fredericks Realty, who has shown clients the property, said, “There are three serious buyers who are very interested in this property right now.”

Condo Sales Slow by 31 Percent As Developers Keep Building