But the big change here is the source of those buyers. Russian entrepreneurs, stashing their earnings in the stable U.S. economy, have been big buyers for the past few years. So have the Saudis, and condo marketer Michael Shvo says they’re buying whole buildings now, not apartments. Now, however, Korean money is starting to make itself felt. And rather than buy units sight unseen to rent out to tenants, as the Japanese often did in the eighties, says Jonathan Miller, many are keeping their properties for themselves.
The weak dollar’s helping as well: “Anyone from London, it feels like half off,” says Shvo. The recent loosening of laws in South Korea, dictating where and how much citizens can invest, has changed matters too, as have the manufacturing booms in India and China. “[India] is a booming economy. So what do you do if you have too much money? You invest at home and overseas,” says DJK Residential agent Kent Pahlajani, who has worked with many subcontinental buyers. Having a place here allows overseas executives to circumvent increasingly expensive hotels, which may not have room for them anyway. (The number of international visitors will have increased from 4.8 million in 2003 to a projected 7.3 million by the end of this year, and the 2006 hotel-occupancy rate is very high, at 85.5 percent.) “Hotels aren’t as comfortable [anyway],” says Pahlajani. “If you come here for a week each month and spend $400 a night for a room, that’s expensive!” The fact that a New York condo is in the United States seals the deal: “They know their investment can’t be politically compromised,” says Minskoff. In a global economy, it’s always nice to know that your apartment can compete.