CHASING dreams

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Love it or hate it, New York is still the world's biggest financial centre, where aspiring people search for the American dream.

Though the Big Apple's property market has seen many challenges over the past few years, 60 per cent of residential brokers are optimistic about 2012, according to a survey by the Real Estate Board of New York.

The research found that while prices in the fourth quarter of last year fell slightly year-on-year, the luxury sector was doing better, with a 7 per cent increase for sales in excess of US$3 million, and a 6 per cent increase for rentals above US$4,000.

Overseas buyers from cities such as Hong Kong often look for something like 'home' - upmarket city apartments with the amenities and easy convenience expected of today's international urban lifestyle.

One example is the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium on Manhattan's Spring Street, where more than a quarter of the sold units have been purchased by Asian buyers. Close to 400 studios, suites and penthouses provide a 'luxury turnkey lifestyle', with on-site restaurant, cocktail lounge, spa and open-air plaza, a private business centre, and a 1,800 sqft event space on the top floor.

Another prime property is the Centurion, designed by Design Architect/Pei Partnership with I.M. Pei. It is a 19-storey luxury development on 56th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan near Central Park. Seventy per cent have been sold, and prices for the remaining units start at US$2.5 million.

'Right now, Midtown is the number one area for buyers looking for an investment or a second home,' says Thomas Guss, president of New York Residence Inc, who is marketing the Centurion.

'We are seeing a high level of interest from Asia as investors want to diversify into safe real estate markets with a long history of stable price development,' Guss says.

Other districts and developers are also targeting the Asian market, such as Sky View Parc, which includes three residential towers with 448 units in downtown Flushing in Queens, with starting prices from US$375,000 to US$835,000.

'Fashion, function and fung shui live in every detail,' says director of sales Hele Lee. 'There is an array of Asian restaurants and shops in the area and, just downstairs, we have an Asian supermarket.

'New York state real estate law requires extensive disclosure and transparent regulation. But this is specifically geared towards consumer protection, so overseas investors should feel very comfortable.'