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Assessing the Odds of a Super-Luxe Condo Correction

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Assessing the Odds of a Super-Luxe Condo Correction

The story of residential real estate today is the unprecedented surge of foreign buyers throwing millions upon millions upon millions of dollars on stratospherically expensive condos and homes in American cities like New York, Miami and LA. The trend is potent enough to have prompted local backlash (against towers that will sit largely vacant given their condos' status as invesments) and legislative caps. But there have been recent signs—and stats—pointing to a natural easing of the foreign buying spree. 

Because of its top dog status as the American financial capital and overall global stature, Manhattan has been at the epicenter of the super-luxe boom. Here's a quick review of some recent benchmarks:

$100.5M: The final sale price of the nearly 11K penthouse at Extell's One57.
$150M: Reported list price of the 21.5K triplex penthouse at Chetrit Group's Sony Buidilng (550 Madison Avenue), which would trail the $130M asking benchmark at Harry Macklowe's nearby 432 Park Avenue, though the ultimate trophies at One57 and 432 Park beat the former Sony HQ when it comes to price PSF supremacy.

3.2K: Number of LA homes priced above $2M at the end of 2014, a 17% jump from the previous year. The supply of homes priced above $5M saw a 27% leap to 546. And in Miami and environs, where the foreign investment wave may be even stronger than New York's, a staggering 30K condos are now under review or construction. To put that in context, 22.2K condos went up in Miami between 2003 and 2011.

And now on to the bad news. The number of $2M+ sales in the New York metro area rose 10% in 2014 versus 27% in 2013. Meanwhile, recent reports of 6.5K new condos flooding the NYC market this year triggered widespread talk of a glut and attendant correction. Residential brokerage Halstead did offer a corrective to that stark assessment, saying that 3K of those 6.5K units were already in contract.

The jury may be out on whether or not there's currently a condo oversupply. But any correction will likely come further down the road, especially given the collapse in oil prices that's led to barrels of crude going for up to 60% less than they did in June. There have already been whispers about billionaire Russians walking away from blockbuster NYC condo deals (although the ruble's fall and Russia's political instability may burnish New York's appeal as a safe haven). The wealthy South Americans driving the Miami boom could also be hit by oil's downturn.

Oil and currency crises centered overseas both speak to the fact that America's economic stability relative to the Euro Zone and South America should prevent a dramatic plunge in the super-luxe condo sector. But political domestic headwinds (see: Bill de Blasio and the fight against the 421a tax abatement) and growing likelihood of a glut should continue to chip away at the blitzkrieg pace of multi-million dollar sales.