Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Steinberg’
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 22nd, 2013
Uber-luxury goods conglomerate Hermes posted its slowest pace of quarterly growth since 2009 as currency headwinds weighed on revenues, reporting a 10% rise in sales to 856.8 million euros. Last year, growth for a number of high-end names cooled as shoppers, notably in China, moved away from more mass market luxury products and splashed out on pricier, more exclusive goods. Sameness on the very high end is a growing problem for a market seeking ultra-exclusivity in a world where the volume of extreme wealth is spreading. This trend seems to be replicating itself in New York real estate where the very high end is performing better than anything and the demand for ultra-ultra luxury remains very strong.
Hermes has been hit in recent months by unfavorable currency effects after receiving a boost from a weaker euro last year. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Chief Executive Bernard Arnault raised a red flag earlier this year warning that “currency wars and competitive devaluation” could pose a risk. LVMH, which does more than 70% of its business outside of Europe, saw currency variations trim underlying sales’ growth in the first quarter, according to numbers released last week.
At constant currencies Hermes revenue climbed 13%, marking a slightly less stellar pace than in recent quarters though the figure is above the company’s medium-term target for annual sales growth of 10%, excluding exchange rate effects. Sales through the group’s own stores expanded briskly, rising 14% at constant exchange rates. Revenues from wholesale channels delivered “satisfactory” 10% growth, the company said.
Last week, U.K.-based Burberry showed signs of renewed health after a difficult 2012, as it said demand for higher-priced trench coats and leather bags had supported sales in recent months while LVMH reiterated plans to nudge its products further upmarket after it reported a 0.4% increase in sales at its fashion & leather goods division, home to its signature Louis Vuitton brand.
Saturday, April 20th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 20th, 2013
Has a new pricing insanity set into the New York uber-luxury market with 33 official listings (with many more un-official ones!)above $ 30 million and three over $ 100 million: Is $ 100 million the new $ 50 million just within a matter of months? It appears so, and I call that hyper-luxoflation!
In this morning’s New York Times an entire article is dedicated to a developers quest to create a massive apartment on top of a rather mediocre building by buying up all the owners of the top floor units. The Times wrote a similar article a few months ago about another $ 100m listing……is this reporting or simply excessive Kardashian-style publicity-seeking? There are other examples of ’trophy’ apartments for sale on top of mediocre buildings……and they are not selling. There are too many mediocre properties priced into the stratosphere that simply do not warrant their asking prices, no matter how crazy-active this market is. Yes, there certainly are some outstanding properties asking very high prices……but those prices can be justified. Satisfying the ego of a seller is a dangerous precedent that seems to have found a place in our manic society: just how many Russian oligarch’s are there to buy these properties?
With gold’s plummeting pricing explained by lesser concerns about inflation, why exactly is the very top end of pricing in Manhattan inflating at a pace that is simply outside the realm of reality?
Friday, April 19th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 19th, 2013
Last night was another one of those nights where trying to turn on the television was the usual annoyance. The salesperson at BOSE had told me the system was SUPER-SIMPLE……even an idiot could use it. Well, I must be a thorough idiot, because its still not easy. Calling BOSE is a joke: their tech support may be good for tech-savvy guys, but not me.
Now I hear that Apple wants to get into the living room by making its own TV set, and there have been plenty of rumors and reports about how and when it’s going to happen. An analyst says he’s learned that the set will go on sale late this year, for $1,500 to $2,500. If APPLE can do to the TV what it did to the computer and music, I am in! Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets says the “iTV” will be 60 inches on the diagonal, but could also come in 50- and 55-inch versions. Apple will also release a small “iRing” that fits on the viewer’s finger, allowing the user to control the screen by pointing, White says. The death of the antiquated, impossible-to-read-without-a-magnifying-glass remote? That could signal a revolution!
In addition, the set will come with tablet-like “mini iTVs” with 9.7-inch screens, the same as the full-size iPad, White said. The “iTV” will be able to send video to the smaller screens wirelessly around the house. The concept is similar to the way in which cable and satellite TV companies are starting to let their set-top boxes send video to iPads and other tablets. White says his report is based on gleanings from visits with unnamed Chinese and Taiwanese companies that supply Apple with components.
Apple doesn’t comment on future products before its launch events, but late company co-founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to remake the TV and had figured out a way to do it. Last year, there were numerous analyst reports that said Apple would launch a TV set in 2012. Apple does sell an “Apple TV,” but it’s small box that connects to a TV to display movies and shows from iTunes. The i-TV may come in time to set Apple stock back on track after its painful plunge over the past 6 months. Simplifying the television experience could indeed be as big a revolution to the home as the i-pod was to music…….and I imagine owners of luxury New York real estate will clamber for this product.
Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 18th, 2013
Corporate results are showing an eerily similar trend: profits are growing, but revenues are not. Is this mostly related to the fact that companies are not hiring while demand grows very slowly, thereby deriding profits mostly from reduced labor costs and low interest rates? Are existing workers forced to work harder and more efficiently to avoid hiring? The Great Depression has interrupted a decades-long trend of jobs steadily moving to the suburbs and hollowing out urban business districts across the U.S., a study finds.
City centers gained a greater share of employment than their outer rings between 2007 and 2010, according to a report from the Brookings Institute. Big suburban job losses, not large downtown gains — drove the shift and metropolitan economies are more decentralized than they were in 2000. The shift slowed during the downturn: The report follows up on a 2009 study that found a continuous migration of jobs from downtown to the suburbs between 1998 and 2006.
Urban revitalization and the notion of smart growth, which seeks to cluster housing and jobs near transit and entertainment, has had only limited success restoring downtowns. Now, faced with tight budgets wrought by the housing collapse, some metropolitan leaders say they’re redoubling efforts to nudge employers and workers toward locations that maximize the use of transit and existing infrastructure, cut pollution and improve quality of life. Maybe this explains the growth New York is experiencing? We are certainly seeing the results of heightened demand for luxury real estate: pricing on the high end is experiencing HYPER inflation in some areas…..we call it hyper-luxoflation as inflation on the lower end is significantly weaker.
When jobs are near housing and public transportation, commuting times, household expenses and government costs are cut. Not to mention quality of life if the large urban center actually addresses quality of life: yes, those parks and trees and bike lanes actually do make life better for most in New York. Now we are able to see the fruits of Mayor Bloomberg’s labors. With New York now providing so much better park space, trees, cultural centers, etc, the city keeps growing in its desirability for families to stay and not move to the suburbs. Bored suburbanites, or those who have lost their lives to lengthy commutes are moving back. And the jobs are here too.
New companies are moving here as they want to be right in the heart of that activity. Entrepreneurs start ventures that improve their communities: The entrepreneurial vibe necessitates density — density of ideas, people, culture. New York is an accessible place for these startups to get connected. And they are hiring and minting new millionaires weekly……the kind who buy high end real estate.
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 16th, 2013
Is Manhattan luxury real estate experiencing hyper-inflation? It appears so. Whereas 4 months ago every developer (and their bankers) was talking about $ 2,000/sf for the entry level to the downtown luxury new development market, now it appears, just a few months later, that this figure has jumped significantly…..by as much as 25%? Is this a brief moment or a continued trend? With the depth of the buyer pool, I think this new normal could be here to stay….
Monday, March 18th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 18th, 2013
SE2 LABS think that high-end custom Audio Visual installations are getting much too complicated: we agree! Who wants that huge ‘brain/rack’ of components in a closet when closet space is needed. If you go it alone you’ve got a bewildering array of choices when it comes to amplifiers, video processors, projectors, sound sources etc and that’s before you’ve tried to make them all talk to each other.
So they’ve done the hard work for you. Take a large box that wouldn’t be out of place in a high-tech computer room. Fill it full of best-of-breed technology (Bryston amplifiers, high def TiVo etc). Make a customised interface to control it all and Voila, you get “The One”.
The full list of toys is too long to repeat and includes mechanical as well as electronic devices. Think power conditioners, cable management, anti-vibration systems, your choice of game console, media center PC… the list is endless.
It looks great, it costs $24K and it has a space for you to plug in your iPod. Simplicity is the new fashion in technology.
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 16th, 2013
The New York Times ran an article for this weekend’s REAL ESTATE section talking about the ‘Downtown Spring awakening’: 150 Charles Street, the Witkoff Group developed, CookFox-designed building in the West Village achieved over HALF A BILLION in sales in 4 weeks, certainly a record for New York real estate, and possibly globally. Unlike any other building, the buyer dedication to the West Village has been rather astounding with about 1 in 5 buyers opting to buy, where traditionally its 1 in 20-25 buyers/appointments who actually buy in new developments. Aside from the super-desirable location, separated from the West Side highway by a buffer zone of townhouses, buyers have resonated unlike any other time because of the beautiful, contextual design, the host of amenities including parking, a drive-through drop off, almost 40,000sf of pre-planted landscaping that is maintained by the building (a first), a 75ft swimming pool, 3,000sf gym, playroom, lounge, juice bar, service elevators…..and the list goes on. Add to this the fact that there are about 80 different floorplans (out of 91 units)so each apartment represents its own unique experience within the building, sensational views of charming Village street-scapes, the Hudson River and park and panoramic Southern and Northern skylines. The finishes are highly customized by Alan Wanzenberg and of a caliber never seen before in the West Village: they are elegant, classically contemporary in style and designed to transcend fashions and of-the-moment trends. A building of this caliber can never be reproduced ever again in a location of this stature, making the building a true collectors item.
Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 10th, 2013
Everyone is chattering at the rising costs of a New York apartment. What most don’t realize is the dramatically increased costs of land, and worse, the rising costs of insurance during construction. Its time to reform New York state’s infamous scaffolding law. The law, which dates back to the late 1800s, has become a huge insurance headache for contractors who blame it for driving insurance rates to such levels that they are actually forcing up construction costs—and in some cases even stalling projects, according to the industry.
New York has put itself at an economic disadvantage as the only state with a scaffolding law, known as Section 240 of the state’s labor law code. Whereas every other state puts an equal burden on the worker to ensure they are protecting themselves at work, New York places an absolute liability on the developer and contractors.
If a worker falls or is injured by faulty scaffolding, the property managers are held liable regardless of unsafe behavior by the worker. Insurers typically make seven-figure settlements rather than risk an even bigger loss in court, but this has driven up the price of doing business. With New York City already the most expensive construction market in the country, developers and contractors are looking for any opportunity to reduce costs. The cost of doing business in New York is grossly inflated by insurance costs because insurers settle….they don’t go to court….and we have to pick up the tab. Thanks to the lawyers who created and protected this antiquated law for over a century.
Of course workers should be protected: that should always be a top priority, but the ability to present evidence in a liability case that can exonerate the building site manager if the worker is at fault is critical if we want to be fair. It is time for all parties to share responsibility.
Sunday, March 10th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 9th, 2013
Now that New York real estate buyers are back to buying apartments from floor plans have you noticed how some developers ‘cook’ the numbers by including the kitchen in the living room dimensions to make the living room appear much larger dimensionally? Something is being cooked here…..
Friday, March 8th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 7th, 2012
Peggy Noonan penned a telling article about the US economy in the Wall Street Journal: she says the focus should be on jobs, because the country needs jobs more than it needs class warfare and threats of doom and gloom from President Obama…..even though 236,000 jobs were created in February, much better than expected. She is certainly right that with vastly reduced unemployment our economy would be in significantly better shape, and budgets could be balanced more easily as fewer would be relying on government aid, and many more would be inserting tax dollars into the government coffers. She thinks the culprit is Obamacare that scares off companies from hiring……yes, that certainly needs tweaking. Personally, I think the tax code needs the most urgent attention when you consider that it currently encourages large corporations to house profits outside of the USA…..instead of investing them here, preferably in job creation.
The build-up of offshore profits — totaling almost $ 2 trillion — is increasing because of incentives in the U.S. tax code for booking profits offshore and leaving them there. The stockpiles complicate attempts to overhaul the tax system as lawmakers look for ways to bring the money home and discourage profit shifting.
What if the USA instituted a policy right now that allowed companies to bring back those profits at a flat tax rate of 25% but only if they invested 25% ($ 500 billion)of those funds into job creation. $ 500 billion would have to go towards paying down the US deficit. The other $ 500 billion would create FIVE MILION jobs paying $ 50,000.00 per year for TWO YEARS. Companies could still boast how smart they were at making money, but this way they would actually be helping the country AND themselves by creating 25 million new viable consumers…. consumers who don’t require government assistance, consumers who pay taxes, who buy goods, who buy houses, who buy I-phones, that will fuel demand…..that will only help further fuel corporate profits.