The German luxury realtor Sebastian Steinau on a balcony in Central Park in front of the Manhattan skyline. Photo: private / Sebastian Steinau / dpa (Private / dpa)
The corona crisis is not over in New York either. But at least the real estate market is picking up again, says Sebastian Steinau. “That’s the nice thing about New York – it’s incredibly dynamic. If the prices have moved down for a long time, the faster they go up again, and at the moment the market is coming back really incredibly quickly. “
The 42-year-old from Neheim in the Sauerland has been a luxury broker in New York for around five years – and “currently in good spirits”.
“That’s right here” YOLO meets FOMO, “says Steinau. This translates as something like: You only live once, combined with the fear of missing out on something. “We’ve all had a shitty year. The perspective has changed. Many people think that now is a good time to maybe reward yourself a little, to enjoy buying a great apartment with its own outdoor area. And the city is coming again. The traffic lights are green. “
Last spring, the metropolis on the east coast became the epicenter of the pandemic in the USA. So far, more than 800,000 people have been infected in the city of around eight million people, and more than 30,000 have died after being infected. The real estate market was largely turned on its head by the resulting crisis. “The market was incredibly difficult in 2018/2019,” says Steinau. Among other things, this was due to the fact that international demand had declined for various political and economic reasons. “But last year he was completely crazy.” He still remained active and also sold a lot. “But it was reluctant.”
The New York Times wrote about 7,500 apartment sales with a total value of almost 14 billion dollars in 2020, citing a survey by the industry service CityRealty. In 2019, there were nearly 12,000 sales valued at nearly $ 24 billion.
In the meantime, however, the infection rate in the metropolis has stabilized, the vaccination campaign is making good progress, and hope has returned to New York. In January of this year, the number of apartment sales in Manhattan and Brooklyn doubled compared to January 2020, analyzed the real estate agency Douglas Elliman.
“I think there have been no such times for a long time, and it’s really nice to see and follow them,” says Steinau. Large discounts are still possible, the price level is comparatively low, and because of travel restrictions, it is still mainly local customers. Much is still going on via video switch. He has just sold an apartment to a couple from California that they had previously only zoomed in on. But international demand is also increasing again, a German prospect has already stopped by. “We are currently looking very positively into the future.”
Steinau specializes in residential real estate from five million dollars – especially in posh high-rise buildings or townhouses in chic areas such as the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But he also shows from around one million and has already sold something for 30 million. Steinau says that if you don’t have at least a million dollars to spare, investing in Manhattan makes no financial sense.
His customers usually come from all over the world and often have high demands: for example, panic rooms where they can withdraw with the family in an emergency. Or marble from Pakistan, stones from Japanese temples and a wall at least ten meters high for a very specific work of art. View of Central Park or the skyline anyway, but in these times also a large private outdoor area.
“I work in this world, but that’s not my life,” says Steinau. “I think it’s admirable that there is such a world that most people have built for themselves. Of course, to some extent I also have friends in this world, but it’s not mine. And it also brings a lot of negative things with it, many have to worry about their safety and that of their children. “
Steinau came into the real estate industry by chance. After school in Germany, during which he was a successful show jumper like his father, he studied economics in London and then worked in Malawi and Papua New Guinea, among other places. Finally, an acquaintance on the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean offered him to manage the sale of around 200 luxury properties on a private island with a private airport. “That was the first time that I sold real estate, in this case land. It was a tough school, but it was also a very good school. This American way of selling, putting all your cards on the table at once. Do you want it or don’t you want it? We Germans are more cautious and sniff each other first. “
Steinau didn’t sell anything for six months – but then everything went smoothly. After a second failed island project and a time in a resort, he met his current wife in a club in New York in 2013 and moved in with her around two years later. “After ten years in the Caribbean, my pirate days were over.” In New York he encounters a hotly contested real estate market with fierce competition. According to the city, there are more than 25,000 brokers in the metropolis. “Maybe there was a certain naivety in me, because of course it’s a terrific market, but also one of the toughest.”
Steinau hires in the newly emerging luxury tower district of Hudson Yards, then takes over a new skyscraper near the Museum of Modern Art and finally goes into business for himself. “You have to be clever, you have to have a certain positive basic aggressiveness and just work really hard – and the Americans really appreciate that.”
Steinau now lives with his wife, their son and a little daughter north of Central Park. “Open views” are important to him in his own home, he says. At work, however, the main thing for him is to make his customers happy. “It’s such a great feeling when you find a property for a customer who then moves in and then calls you a year later and says,” Wow, that’s the best thing. “How great is that?”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210406-99-96412 / 2 (dpa)