To make a sale in Manhattan's overcrowded luxury residential market, it might just help to be president.
In a saturated market, Donald Trump was able to find a buyer last month for a penthouse apartment at Trump Park Avenue, without a public listing, for $15.9m - almost $2m more than what a larger unit sold for a year earlier. The buyer of the 4,164 sq ft (389 sq m) 28th-floor penthouse was Angela Chen, who previously lived on the building's fifth floor. From there, she ran Global Alliance Associates LLC, which specialises in establishing "influential relationships with key decision-makers" in China for its clients, according to the firm's website.
The last time Trump sold a unit at the tower was in January 2016. That was to Robert Tillis, chief executive officer of Jersey City, New Jersey-based Imperial Bag & Paper Co., who bought a the 27th floor penthouse for $14.05m, according to city property records. In Manhattan, units on a building's highest floors often are called penthouses even when not on the top storey. While high-end sales have seen a revival in the early months of this year, "it's not unreasonable" that Trump's political stature played a role in the sale and price he got on the latest 502 Park Avenue deal, said Jonathan Miller, president of New York appraisal firm Miller Samuel. "It's not the reason, but it's reasonable to assume it's part of it."
Typically, an apartment identical to the one below it in size and views tends to be valued at a premium of about one percent, Miller said.
Chen didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A call placed to the number listed on Global Alliance's website was answered by a woman who said it was a mobile phone, and that she didn't know Chen. Amanda Miller, a Trump Organisation spokeswoman, didn't respond to a request for comment. Trump, who took office in January, bucked four decades of tradition established by US presidents by not divesting from his businesses, posing unprecedented conflicts of interest.
Trump Park Avenue, previously known as the Delmonico Hotel, was renovated by Trump in 2002, and his Trump Organisation still owns about 20 units, public records show. The condominiums were valued at a combined $170m by Bloomberg last July.
Manhattan's inventory of luxury resale properties fell 26pc at the end of the fourth quarter to 743 homes - the lowest it's been in four years, as sellers who weren't successful in getting the prices they sought pulled apartments from the market.