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Real Estate

Manhattan condo buyers seek luxury amenities

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private decks with outdoor hot tubs, 24-hour concierge service, rooms designed by Mick Jagger’s daughter -- and you thought Manhattan real estate was all about location, location, location?

Those amenities bring a unique element of luxury that apartment shoppers in New York City seek, but have trouble finding in cookie-cutter residences, said Michael Shvo, a real estate broker turned condominium marketer, who spoke on Thursday at the Reuters Real Estate Summit in New York.

And in New York City, where the price of a small studio apartment can exceed $500,000, buyers demand more.

“If they’re going to pay $2,000 per square foot, they want to feel like they live in the Four Seasons,” said Shvo, 32, who juggles clients on his four mobile phones and calls real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump “a good friend.”

The trend of money searching for luxury is not isolated to the real estate market, Shvo said, pointing to a multiyear waiting list for Ferraris and the surge in yacht sales.

“There is a tremendous amount of money out there everywhere,” said Shvo, who gained notoriety as a broker by racking up sales of $300 million in 2003. “They’re getting rich from real estate right now.”

Still, Shvo said there was no risk of a real estate market crash in New York City, where average prices of co-op and condo apartments have risen more than 140 percent in the previous decade.

In fact, he said the only threat of a sharp decline is if the media stokes fears of a property bubble.

“There’s no real fundamental reason for the market to go down,” said Shvo, whose company Shvo Marketing handles $3 billion worth of properties. “Only the press can bring the market down.”

“GIMME SHELTER”

In fact, Shvo said demand is still overwhelming. At his new Bryant Park project, there are 550 people on the waiting list for 100 available units and he expects to be able to raise prices steadily once sales begin.

Shvo expects similar hot demand for a downtown building being designed by Mick Jagger’s daughter, Jade.

That could be welcome news to real estate speculators, who “flip” properties without living in the apartment.

Shvo, who owns between “20 to 30” apartments, defended the practice, saying most people do not start out with the intention of turning around the property.

“You’re not talking about people with great long-term plans,” Shvo said. “They had intended to live there, but they made so much money in such a short period of time that they want to take the money off the table.”

Shvo also said there are no “bad locations” in New York City with most neighborhoods already in hot demand. But he pointed to the downtown Wall Street area as being relatively undervalued.

With new restaurants and stores coming on board, the area is ready to blossom, but the opportunity won’t last long, Shvo said.

“The window of opportunity is six to eight months.”

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