Realty Bites: Buncha Amateurs
Is San Francisco too pricey? Puh-leeze. Looking for a place to live in San Francisco, the Times reported recently, is “unlike the hunt anywhere else in the country, even overpriced Manhattan.” Them’s fightin’ words to New Yorkers, who regard packed open houses, extortionate security deposits, and a perverse pride in such things as what separates Manhattan men from flyover country boys. But could the City by the Bay be catching up with gritty Gotham? Fuggedaboudit. In New York, according to William B. May’s executive vice-president, Roberta Benzilio, who lived in San Francisco on a sabbatical, “property is scarcer. And the desire of people to live here has grown faster.” So our rents still win the East Coast­ West Coast throw-down. Corcoran broker Sarah Bond just helped her daughter move into a $3,600-per-month rental over a bakery in downtown San Francisco. Which sounds bad – except that it’s four bedrooms. “That could be $9,000 here,” notes a colleague. Let’s also note that several hundred thousand dollars there buys a house, not just a second-rate two-bedroom. Chalk up San Francisco’s quaking to a price spike in a formerly placid market. According to Jeffrey Jackson of MMJ Appraisals, the “paired sales index” – which tracks individual apartments as they sell and resell – indicates that prices in Manhattan have risen over the past half-decade by about 20 percent annually. “In the hottest San Francisco markets, it’s over 40 percent in the last year,” he says. “In some of the Bay Area and Marin County, it’s more.” Meaning that the Bay Area’s real-estate gold rush is like its dot-com boom: an irrationally exuberant fad that stuns those (techies, Deadheads) unaccustomed to the realities New Yorkers take for granted. Awww.

Ben Can’t Sit Stiller
Actor ankles Franklin Tower apartment.

Newlywed actor Ben Stiller, who married The Brady Bunch Movie’s Marcia, Christine Taylor, last month in Hawaii, isn’t going to honeymoon in TriBeCa. This winter, Stiller bought a two-bedroom, two-bath 1,895-square-foot apartment in the Franklin Tower for just under $1 million. His friends and neighbors would have included Mariah Carey, who ended her own protracted search by buying the penthouse of the art deco 17-story former office building. Then in April, as the first residents were moving in, Stiller put it back on the market for $1.4 million; within a month he sold it for $1.5. Not bad, considering that the There’s Something About Mary star got his portfolio caught in his zipper earlier this year when he reportedly lost $250,000 trusting his savings to money manager Dana Giacchetto. Instead of changing into Mr. Furious (his superhero alter ego in 1999’s Mystery Men), he cashed out of his condo. His broker, Bruce Ehrmann of Stribling Wells & Gay, wouldn’t comment. The buyer gets a steam shower, a view of the Empire State Building, and a 24-hour concierge – plus the ghosts of bankers past.

Big Deals

Upper West Side
1965 Broadway
Two-bedroom, 2 and 1/2-bath, 1,600-square-foot condo. Asking: $1.85 million. Selling: $1.875 million. Charges and taxes: $1,000. Time on market: one week.

Who wants to live with Regis Philbin? The buyers of this penthouse, already renting in the three-year-old building that’s also home to Rosie O’Donnell, liked it so much they paid more than the asking price. They have views of the Hudson and Lincoln Center, but they may not enjoy them for long: A New Economy baron from California has already offered them $1 million to flip it, according to Sumitomo Real Estate’s Sachiko Goodman. He wants a pied-à-terre. Are her buyers going to take the bait? “I think so, yeah,” she says.

195 Hudson Street
10,000-square-foot condo. Asking: $7.6 million. Selling: $7.25 million. Charges and taxes: $5,407. Time on market: two and a half years.

“It’s a mother,” says Douglas Elliman broker Len Bromberg of the side-by-side penthouses he just sold together. The buyers “wanted as large a space as possible with a view of the water.” They’re moving out of an apparently insufficiently huge 5,000-square-foot TriBeCa loft. Their new place has more than 3,000 square feet of terraces and twenty-foot ceilings (except in the mezzanine level, where there’ll be a bedroom and media room). “They’re not Wall Street people at all,” says Bromberg. They’re much cooler than that, albeit just as super-duper rich: The husband has an architecture background and is designing the space himself, right down to the glass-enclosed lap pool on the roof.