Morgan Stanley Bigwig Can't Stop Flipping

Holy flippin' real estate deal! Who says the age of the big-time property flip is over?

Certainly not Guy Metcalfe, co-head of Morgan Stanley's real estate investment banking group. (And he would know, wouldn't he?)

Metcalfe and his wife, Lisa, just laid down $6.125 million for a 3,100-square-foot co-op apartment at 90 Riverside Drive on Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York. The apartment had only been on the market for three weeks and the purchase price was $130,000 over asking. As gossip columnist Cindy Adams likes to say, "Only in New York, kids, only in New York."

But seriously, folks: Metcalfe clearly knows a deal when he sees one. It was only last May that the couple sold their 3,822-square-foot condominium at 15 Central Park West for $11 million. They purchased that property less than a year earlier for $9.35 million.

And the move to 15 CPW came only months after the Metcalfes sold their co-op in The Park Royal at 23 West 73rd Street for $3.9 million in April 2008. What's going on here?
Well, for one, exceptional properties always remain in demand, regardless of the state of the overall market. For example, the Riverside Drive apartment has 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, and 3 1/2 bathrooms in an architectually significant pre-war building. And let's not forget the to-die-for views of the Hudson River and Riverside Park from the 12th-floor apartment's 11 picture windows. The previous two apartments were also fine specimens--great properties in great buildings in great locations.

The co-op board at 90 Riverside requires a minimum of a 25 percent down payment; the remaining 75 percent can be financed. But then the Metcalfes could probably pay that 25 percent out of the pocket change from their previous two flips.

Perhaps Metcalfe, who has worked at Morgan Stanley for more than 17 years, is like a kid in the proverbial candy store. With Manhattan real estate prices down to their lowest in at least a decade, nearly every premium property on the market must come with a big fat screaming discount. And Manhattan real estate is like candy for the super-rich--they know they shouldn't keep buying it, but they just can't help themselves.

Metcalfe's bio says he has advised his clients on "over $250 billion of real estate transactions including mergers, acquisitions, asset sales, restructurings, and public and private equity and debt financings." He could no doubt advise his banking buddies how to invest those fat bonuses to make a quick million or two more without really trying.
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