Wealthy Manhattan Condo Owners Can No Longer Purchase in Secret Thanks to a New Law

New York's new Freedom of Information Law makes all buyer's names publicly available

manhattan luxury condos
Many of Manhattan's luxury buyers purchase through LLCs, but that's about to change
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / October 9, 2019 6:00 am

Thanks to New York’s new Freedom of Information Law, the names of celebrities and billionaires that make up the majority of Manhattan’s wealthy condo buyers will now be public information, and those buyers are less than thrilled. According to the Wall Street Journal, the effects on Manhattan’s luxury condo market are an unintended side effect of a new state law raised in response to an unrelated suburban squabble upstate, but it could upend the city’s luxury real estate market.

The legislation took effect last month, initially as a resolution to a dispute over home conversions in Rockland County, where residents were concerned some of their neighbors were making illegal home conversions or subdivisions. The new law seeks to prevent the anonymous purchase of homes through the creation of limited-liability companies, since it’s more difficult for local authorities to enforce the rules when properties are owned through LLCs.

While the new law may make help the nosy suburban residents of Rockland County rest easier at night, it’s having the opposite effect on the privacy-seeking celebs and otherwise ultra-wealthy owners of Manhattan’s luxury condos. According to the WSJ, many wealthy condo owners prefer to purchase through an LLC, either to maintain privacy or protect assets from lawsuits. The practice has become commonplace in most Manhattan luxury condo buildings, but that’s all about to change under the Freedom of Information Law.

New York City brokers told the WSJ the new legislation is poised to further threaten an already weakened luxury market. “It will effectively kill real estate finance,” condo lawyer Stuart A. Saft told the outlet.

And just like that, a time-honored tradition of secretive condo splurges and money laundering is set to crumble in the hands of whiny neighbors upstate.

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