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Developers do it right to keep buyers buying.

A slow down, a decline, a downright crash. Whatever way it's been said, everyone has heard that the crazed luxury residential condo market of 2006 would come to an abrupt stop in the New Year.

However, New York developers have hardly felt a bump, and say that such hype has been purely media imposed.

"The residential market was on fire in 2006, but it went back to normal and January has still shown steady growth in the housing market," said Yair Levy, founder and president of YL Developers, which owns and develops many residential condos throughout New York City, including 29 John Street, which sold out at the end of last year and The Sheffield 57 on East 57th which has witnessed a flood of sales since entering the market just last month.

The steady growth has come from the fact that the New York economy is performing well above the national average and the city some of the highest earners in the country want to call Manhattan home. "Buyers have become more selective, because they have more product to chose from, but they are still buying," said Levy, who has successfully tapped into the high-end market by offering buyers what they demand; the very finest in design and the one-time luxuries that are now regarded as necessities.

The Sheffield--the most expensive rental to condo conversion in the city's history--boasts a private concierge, screening room, staffed kiddies play area, private restaurant and lounge and even cocktail and breakfast service. There's an observatory on the roof and, of course, the obligatory spa and health club with personal trainers.

The face of the average buyer has changed with the economic boost, and along with it has gone the average amenities that come with luxury living, according to Andrew Heiberger, founder and CEO of Buttonwood Real Estate LLC, a private real estate corporation that focuses on investments, syndications, and property development in here and in South Florida.

While his most recent development, the 88 Greenwich Street Residences, is catering to a wide spectrum of buyers who are all equally focused on getting what they want.

"The demographics of our buyers vary a great deal now," said Heiberger. "We've made sales to first time buyers, younger buyers getting assistance from their parents, Wall Street bonus buyers, models, banking and business executives, and ages range from 22 years-old all the way to 60 years-old.

He said a big selling point at 88 Greenwich Street is a central ipod system, that the former CEO of Citi Habitats set up, with a docking station to charge your ipod and two speakers--one in the ceiling of the kitchen and one in the bathroom with volume control--. In just a month, one third of the 360 condos have been snapped up.

"When you are planning a new development, you have to be market conscious and product savvy, and having the guts to develop an amenities packet that will be unmatched is the key to being set apart," said Heiberger.

To be set apart, developers have taken the once typical luxury services such as 24-hour concierge, top-of-the-line appliances and design, walk-in-closets, indoor pools and gyms, and loaded their buildings with such amenities ranging from virtual golf, private wine storage, dog grooming services, gardens and even lifestyle coaches.

In a nutshell, today's luxury buyer has everything at his fingertips without stepping out of his home.

"Experienced developers know the target audience and are able to fit the variety of lifestyles," said Ben Hakimian, president of The Hakimian Organization, which owns, develops and manages 24 residential and commercial properties throughout New York City, including 75 Wall Street, the latest addition to his portfolio. That 36-story former office tower in currently being transformed into a 300-unit luxury condominium above and 300-room five star hotel. Although official sales won't start there until early April, Hakimian already has a listed of wannabe buyers.

He added, "As long as the project is well conceived and in a good location, even if it takes a few months, you'll still come out alright."
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Author:Perez, Esther O.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 31, 2007
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