Fear of a Rich Foreign Buyer

The most recent New York mag cover story is a fascinating and seemingly overdue look at the flood of foreign money into the New York real estate market, and in particular at “stash pads,” which are, despite their prime locations, little more than apartment-shaped financial contrivances. It’s got it all! High-rise towers in which the majority of tenants are simply presumed foreign, since their identities are masked by shell corporations; whispers of international crime syndicates; blind money men sending buyer-tourists to make all-cash deals that squeeze even affluent city-dwellers out of the market; a subtext (possibly the PRETEXT for the piece, also?), of course, about the loss, under the pressure of so much cash, of some sort of essential city character. The story starts:

At a time when many New Yorkers are doubtful about making any long-term investments in their city, one form of residential real estate is drawing millions of foreign and corporate dollars—the luxury condo.

The glass-walled towers with their sweeping views and six-figure price tags are proving popular with corpor—

Haha, six figures, wait, never mind, this is a 1976 New York Times article about almost the exact same thing.

And then, back to this year: “Real estate can serve as a convenient pied-à-terre, an investment hedge against a wobbly home currency, or an insurance policy—a literal refuge if things go bad.”

(This is not to say things have gotten better, or haven’t gotten worse: The Galleria’s listings today are SOMETHING: A 500 sqft studio for $745,000 sound good? Or maybe a 4,900 sqft seven-bedroom on the 50th floor for $15 million?)

Anyway, what happened between 1976 and 2014? Who knows! Who cares! Probably nothing.