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The Cost of Luxury: How to Validate the Insanity

Agent Insight // Feb 28, 2013

15 Central Park West

For better or worse the New York City market is changing.  Morgan Brennan, a Forbes Magazine real estate correspondent, quotes in a recent tweet, “‘seller’s market’ developing as housing inventory hits a 13-year low, says N.A.R. Translation: sales up, prices up.”  This low inventory and increase in prices has the educated consumer scrambling to find the right apartment at the right price with the right luxurious aspects to justify paying more.

Aside from making a smart financial play when buying in today’s market, one should look at the tangible and intangible aspects of a property that make it special.  If you are paying top dollar you want to make sure that you can eventually sell again for top dollar in the future.

To do so you have to take into consideration what “luxury” really means and how it affects value.

Building: When you find a property that you love and its top dollar you have to work in reverse.  Remove yourself from the apartment and take a look at the aesthetic of the building, hallways and lobby as you also live in those spaces.  Those areas are part of the package and should also be at a high standard of quality.

Views: We all long for a skyline, Central Park or intimate tree-lined block views.  What the view can do for value is tremendous.  Keep in mind that you want to make sure you won’t lose that view in the foreseeable future.  Asking the right questions regarding potential building construction or zoning regulations should be part of your conversation.

Pedigree: Location, location, location is accompanied by physical address.  Some buildings command high prices just because of its past and present owners or a starchitect designer like 740 Park, 15CPW or 40Bond.  These can be major selling points and you should keep in mind that they add value to every unit in the building.

Construction and finish quality: The standard of material used is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Ultra high-end finishes last longer, look better, and give a greater sense of style.  One shining examples of this is Walker Tower, from radiant floor heating and Smallbone kitchens, to a zoned humidification system –  the construction and finish quality is unsurpassed thus justifying paying more.

Amenities and services: Amenities and services can be a game changer in some buildings.  Those that have a higher staff to resident ratio, private restaurants or parking spaces for sale can command higher dollars.   A great resident manager or super high tech fitness facility can add great value.

Design: The design of a space is a huge part of making a decision of whether or not a home can sell at top dollar.  Neal Beckstedt of Beckstedt Studio, reminds us that the potential flow of a space is just as important as the current layout – especially when considering doing a renovation and paying big money for the bare bones. As for properties that are triple mint, make sure the design is functional and not overdone.  Little things like appliance placement in a kitchen or the location of bathrooms can have an impact on price.

The Broker: With all this said it, you are really trying to “validate the insanity”  so find a broker with experience to guide you.  It is extremely important to have a highly connected and educated broker with incredible negotiation skills.  They can help you weigh each of these items and determine what value they have to you and get you to the closing table.

Just remember it’s not always about the dollars and sense.  It is okay to put a little emotion into the equation and look long term.  Your most important question should be –  “Will I be happy coming home to this property every day?”  In the end, that is what it is all about.

Happy Buying,
Jarrod Guy Randolph