Why Manhattan’s skyscrapers are empty

Duplex Penthouse At 50 United Nations Plaza As Manhattan Luxury Condo Builders Try Dealmaking In Hunt For Buyers

Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold.

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.

Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million.

But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

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How real estate will radically change in the new decade

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After a roaring decade, real estate is looking a lot less promising in the 2020s.

A sense of gloom hangs in the air. “Bloodbath,” “free fall” and “slump” were just some of the choice idioms deployed by headline writers to describe the New York real estate market during the twilight of 2019. Across the pond, townhouses in central London—long the favored investment vehicle for billionaires from Bahrain to Belarus—have lost 20 percent of their value in a five-year nosedive. Worldwide, according to Savills, a global property consultancy, “everything is trending to zero.”

“This is not a normal cycle,” says Frederick Peters, CEO of Warburg Realty. Even after the global financial crisis, luxury property prices in the world’s capitals recovered fully within two years and went on to smash all records. This time round, brokers and analysts agree, it’s different.

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