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If you’ve been following the news out of New York, it could seem as though anyone with money has left the city forever — at the start of the spring, city deals ground to a halt while wealthy New Yorkers paid millions of dollars to rent properties in Hamptons and the Catskills.
But that could not be farther from the truth, says Darren Sukenik, one half of Compass’ Sukenik Glazer Team. He and his nephew Benjamin Glazer work in Lower Manhattan and have been fielding requests for a specific type of luxury property for weeks — some of the hottest commodities include two-bedroom apartments, nearby green space and proximity to work.
“The profile of the buyer right now is somebody who’s upgrading,” Sukenik told Inman News. “Especially in the last three weeks, we’ve had a lot of people look at luxury two-bedrooms who were either from outside the city or in Manhattan. That’s been a huge market. I think the families are just going to organically go the same way.”
We recently spoke with Glazer and Sukenik about summer trends in the New York luxury market. The interview, below, has been edited for length and clarity.
Inman News: What has been happening in New York City luxury real estate world over the past month?
Darren Sukenik: Some very, very interesting things. COVID-19 has driven everybody to work from home. We saw a really huge uptick in activity. It went from 0 to 5 in two weeks for luxury two-bedrooms. People are thinking that if they are going to be working from home, their current home is not going to work.
Previously, our market was at a stalemate. Nobody was selling, nobody was buying, and nobody was reducing the prices. But now things started changing in certain areas, and that was the impetus for a lot of people to buy.
So the kind of en-masse migration toward the suburbs predicted by some experts has not occurred?
DS: No. There have always been people who wanted to move to the suburbs and [the virus] might have pushed them to do it sooner. Everybody who was going to leave the city in the next 18 months is leaving now.
But I don’t think anybody is saying ‘Oh my gosh, I have to leave the city!’ The maybes became yeses. New Yorkers with kids have always made the move toward the suburbs, but the new blood that is 20 years younger is picking up the slack.
What are New York luxury customers looking for right now?
DS: A switch to quality and not commuting at all. Living, literally, where you work. So if you’re at Google on Hudson Street, you’ll probably want to live on Hudson Square in the West Village.
While many people are working from home, there are also many that are not. Nobody wants to get on a train. Nobody wants to get into an Uber. Nobody wants to deal with that. They’d rather just walk in their own space to their career.
That kind of convenience often requires a higher price tag and major financial commitment. Have you had clients who bought apartments solely to be closer to work?
DS: 100 percent. Both of the deals that we’ve done were Upper West Side to West Village.
Have you seen a shift away from skyscrapers and toward boutique buildings? You know, not wanting to wait in an elevator and having fewer neighbors?
DS: The nature of our neighborhood tends to be that way anyway. I do think those glassy towers are going to get hurt the most because they tend to be in neighborhoods that people didn’t want to be in even before COVID-19 — busy and commercial neighborhoods.
You are an uncle-nephew team. What advice would you give to agents working in teams right now?
DS: It’s different for us because we’re family. We have to call it a team legally, but it is a family, and that’s how we treat our clients.
How are you showing properties right now? What precautions are you taking?
Benjamin Glazer: I’ve been working from home. Every buyer that’s coming in is wearing a mask and gloves. We’re doing disclosures, we’re pre-vetting everybody that’s coming through to make sure they’re familiar with the neighborhood and the building. We’re making sure it’s safe before anybody goes into our sellers’ properties.
The virus has, in a way, eliminated the looky-loos. Only serious buyers are looking at properties right now.
BG: Absolutely. We’re also doing a lot of virtual tours before buyers come into the property. They’ve already seen a video of the property and the floor plan. They’re well aware of what they’re coming in to see. Coming in to see is more of a way to solidify the deal.
DS: To Ben’s point, technology has enabled us to really show an apartment without our presence. It didn’t really make much sense to us seven years ago, but now, given the anxiety factor [of the virus], it has become normal for everything, whether it’s shopping for a baseball glove or an apartment. These are things that were inevitable. Technology would have gotten there at some point, but [the virus] kind of pushed it along.
What is the profile of the buyer looking at luxury real estate right now?
DS: The profile of the buyer right now is somebody who’s upgrading. Especially in the last three weeks, we’ve had a lot of people look at luxury two-bedrooms who were either from outside the city or in Manhattan. That’s been a huge, huge market. I think the families are just going to organically go the same way anyway because they’re in the Hamptons or the Berkshires or wherever else for the summer anyway.
I think it really depends on when school starts. If school starts on time, as everybody is hoping for, then they’ll be buying.