n the universe of ultraluxury real estate, much attention has been lavished on foreign investors who pay record prices for glassy Midtown condominiums, and the wave of previously staunch uptown residents suddenly spending big to embrace unlikely neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan.
Now get ready for a new group of well-to-do buyers who are quickly gaining momentum: under-40 multimillionaires.
Such buyers care less about status and amenities than quality, character and privacy. They eschew Park Avenue for Canal Street, and prefer bespoke kitchens by the British designer Smallbone of Devizes to the typical Sub-Zero style. The young wealthy elite is split between entrepreneurs, who have made their fortunes in technology and business, and those who have family money. But nearly all prefer homes downtown, and they almost always pay all cash.
“They have a completely different DNA from the rest of us,” said Robert Dankner, the president of Prime Manhattan Residential, a brokerage that represents young tech millionaires. “They like to stay under the radar, and the time and energy others spend to conform, these people spend forging their own path. What is important to them is to have something that is not like what everyone else has.”
Buildings that have been currying favor among this set include the Sterling Mason in TriBeCa, 200 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea and 285 Lafayette Street in SoHo. “In my experience smaller is better than bigger, buildings like One57 and 15 CPW are not their thing,” Mr. Dankner said.
Take 471 Washington Street, which began sales in 2010 and sold out before construction was completed. It is on the corner of Canal Street bordering SoHo and northern TriBeCa. Each of the nine apartments in the nine-story building, blocks from where the cityDepartment of Sanitation is erecting an enormous garage and salt shed, boasts outdoor space, a private keyed elevator and 11-foot ceilings. At least four of the buyers in the building are under 40, including Sasha Bikoff, 26, an interior designer. Ms. Bikoff, who grew up in Manhattan, has furnished homes that include Judy Garland’s former apartment at the Dakota on the Upper West Side, a former Hunnewell estate in Dover, Mass., and homes in Montauk, Amagansett and Hudson, N.Y.
She bought a sprawling one-bedroom at 471 Washington that has three levels, a 650-square-foot backyard and a large basement intended as storage, which has been transformed into an office, with tiled floors and walls painted royal blue. The main level has a kitchen and entertainment area where she exhibits her artwork, while the top floor houses her living space. Adjoining Ms. Bikoff’s bedroom is an enormous walk-in-closet reminiscent of the one that Mr. Big built for an awed Carrie Bradshaw in the “Sex and the City” movie; the space is a reinvention, first built as a second bedroom.
“Everything is totally private and separate from each other, sort of like a townhouse within the building,” said Ariel Dagan, 25, an associate broker at Keller Williams New York City who represents Ms. Bikoff, having known her since both were children on the Upper East Side.
Before buying, Ms. Bikoff was renting a one-bedroom with a terrace in Chelsea. “But she likes to entertain and it just wasn’t large enough,” Mr. Dagan said, “plus she wanted something with the feeling of Old New York — something super, super unique.”
To find the perfect home, Ms. Bikoff and Mr. Dagan visited several listings from Chelsea all the way to the southern tip of TriBeCa. “I am the type of person that will walk into Barney’s in my sweatpants, I don’t care,” Ms. Bikoff said. “But at the same time, I am a serious buyer, and I think we went into some of these listings and they didn’t take me seriously. That changed after we did the walk-throughs and they saw my comments and knowledge.”
When Ms. Bikoff first visited 471 Washington Street, it was still under construction. “Sasha walked in and from the first moment, looking at just four cement walls, she was like, ‘This is it, this is what I want.’ ” Mr. Dagan recalled. “And I was like, ‘What? I have no idea what we are even looking at.’ But she had vision and the space gave her inspiration.”
Other residents of 471 Washington include two young brothers who each own large apartments and a stylish 30-something couple, Harsh and Purvi Padia. The Padias — he runs a hedge fund and she has an interior-design business — paid more than $17 million for the penthouse. The couple, who have a child, were featured in an episode of “Million Dollar Listing,” a reality show on Bravo, expressing concern that the 4,200-square-foot unit, which comes with 4,000 square feet of outdoor space and a rooftop pool, was too small for the family of three. They ended up combining the apartment with the unit below, creating a 7,200-square-foot home.
“The whole building is filled with rich young millionaires,” said John Gomes, a broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who oversaw the sales at 471 Washington Street with his partner Fredrik Eklund.
Walker Tower, a 47-unit conversion on West 18th Street where a penthouse recently sold for a record-breaking $50.9 million and a two-bedroom recently went into contract for $4.2 million, has also seen an influx of young buyers. “It used to be that if you were dealing with a buyer who was under 40, it wasn’t really in the luxury market,” said Vickey Barron, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman and the director of sales at Walker Tower. “They were looking for a perfectly lovely apartment, but not really luxury. Now I’ll see someone walk through the door and assume it is a 37-year-old broker, but it is actually a buyer, and they are looking at a listing that costs $14 million.”
Among the young buyers at Walker Tower is a 30-something owner of a tech company who recently bought a two-bedroom; another resident, a 30-year-old lawyer and entrepreneur, bought a three-bedroom.
Buildings like Walker Tower and 471 Washington Street lack many of the flashier amenities often featured in larger buildings, like golf simulators, giant screening rooms or basketball courts. But that is just fine. “These younger, successful individuals, they are almost too intelligent to go for the bells-and-whistles sales pitch,” Ms. Barron said. “Instead they want substance, they want something that is a good investment and is nice to live in.”
The architect Cary Tamarkin is seeing a similar trend at two boutique condominiums he is developing in West Chelsea. The buildings, 456 West 19th Street and 508 West 24th Street, have pared down amenities and elevated prices — the cheapest unit at 508 West 24th Street is $4.15 million — and seem to be interesting buyers who are executives at technology and new-media companies.
“The mind-set of wildly successful people who are under 40, if you think about what made them that kind of money, it is a pioneering, creative spirit,” Mr. Tamarkin said. “They have a lot of self-confidence — they aren’t relying on an address or someone’s name to give them that cachet, but rather they are going on their spirit.”