Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen Led 2020’s Biggest Real-Estate Deals – WSJ
Many U.S. billionaires got richer during the pandemic, thanks in part to the recovery of global stock markets. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that, while individual markets were impacted to dramatically different degrees, the ultra-high end of the real-estate market didn’t crash in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
While the New York City market took a gut punch as wealthy Manhattanites fled the city, markets such as the Hamptons, Greenwich, Conn., Palm Beach and Los Angeles boomed. Local realtors attributed that uptick in part to the increasing fortunes of the wealthiest Americans, a desire by the rich to get out of densely populated environments and a rise in the number of people who wanted to upsize to larger homes with space for work-from-home friendly amenities like offices and gyms.
In the third quarter, sales of Manhattan luxury homes—defined as the top 10% of transactions—were down by 46.7% compared to the same period in 2019, according to a report by Douglas Elliman. Just 3.6% of transactions followed a bidding war, the lowest level in more than 11 years, the report shows. By contrast, sales of luxury homes in Palm Beach and high-end single family homes in Los Angeles were up by 87.5% and 33.5%, respectively, Elliman’s numbers show. In Greenwich, luxury sales were up 68.2%, marking the end to a more-than-decade-long slump in the affluent Connecticut city.
“It’s the strongest luxury market in the history of Palm Beach, record prices in every single category” said Danny Hertzberg, a luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in South Florida. “We can barely catch our breath. It’s nonstop. Basically everything that was on the market has been sold so we’re calling people to ask whether they would consider selling.”
Of the top 10 deals closed in 2020 nationwide, two topped $100 million, down from a record six in 2019, according to data from appraiser Jonathan Miller and research by The Wall Street Journal. Five were recorded in California, in the Los Angeles area or in the celebrity-studded Montecito enclave in Santa Barbara County. Two were recorded in Palm Beach, and two in the Hamptons. The one remaining deal, recorded in New York City, was the result of a closing at the new Billionaires’ Row mega-tower 220 Central Park South. The deal was not actually signed this year–the nature of the new development market provides that the time from contract to closing can often take years –and does not reflect the current performance of the local market.
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