Many are asking why the high end New York real estate market is moving at a much slower pace than 2 years ago. Certainly buyers are nervous having witnessed inventory growth and some pretty significant price cuts in the past 18 months, mostly on over-priced homes owned by over-exuberant seller (or agent) aspirations. Some of the headline grabbing price-cuts have been the largest (and fastest) we have ever witnessed, certainly outside of a recession.
The pace of the $10m+ market in New York has slowed notably over the past 18 months, and many ask why this is considering the election is behind us, the economy and growth remain solid, interest rates remain super-low, the equity markets are at all time highs and the wealthy are wealthier than at any other time in history. Without a notable 'event', what else could be causing this hesitancy and lack of urgency? Some point to the cyclical nature of markets: wealthy buyers fear that buying now will not produce the kind of asset valuation growth they experienced between 2010 and 2015. Some fear that there is a substantial potential for even further inventory growth, although this has already been tempered by the fact that banks have virtually cut off funding for all but the most conservative or safe new building pro-forma's. The dollar's strength has sharply reduced the volume of foreign buyers. The government's new immigration rhetoric scares even those foreign buyers from country's with friendly US relationships. Some fear that too many developers are building too much product for the exact same audience. There may be another reason.
Many high end apartments in super-luxury condominiums have closed in the past 12-18 months as many investor buyers emerged over the past 8 years willing to buy very expensive apartments to rent out. Now, for the first time ever, the consumer is confronted with a wide variety of brand new, super-luxe apartments to rent. And an option to rent instead of buy while they 'wait and see' what happens, without compromising their living standards. We even receive daily calls on sales listing asking if the owner would consider renting with an option to buy in a year or so. In New York there are currently over 350 rental listings priced $20,000 per month or higher. Assuming only half of these renters would have been buyers, it is easy to deduce that this rental market is a drain on the velocity of high end sales.
So does it make sense to rent a $20,000 per month property instead of buying? All depends on timing. If its for a one or two year window, then yes. (Spending $250,000 per year on rent adds up quickly). However, with the funding faucet on high end buildings virtually dry, its possible once the current inventory of luxe properties is absorbed, it could take years to re-boot the development cycle on new inventory. Currently there are extraordinarily enticing options to buy in the luxe market....and these days the combination of low interest rates with the stronger potential to negotiate on price makes buying a very smart option. Especially if you plan to live in a property for more than 5 years.