The strong dollar will not keep foreign investors from buying U.S. real estate next year, said Steve Witkoff, CEO of the Witkoff Group. New York properties -- hot as they are -- continue to be a good value relative to the rest of the world.
"New York City is the safe harbor for capital around the world so as you have problems in other parts of the world you see flight capital come in," said Witkoff.
There is continued value in New York's residential market versus other global cities, according to Witkoff. For example, pricing for New York condominium properties trades at the same level as London's, but the pound is 1.6 times the multiple of the dollar, making the London market 60% higher.
Witkoff is developing a new Marriott (MAR) - Get Report branded Edition Hotel at 20 Times Square, the first new hotel of its kind in two decades in the area and the only five-star hotel in Times Square. The project will also include 76,000 square feet of prime retail space on the site.
"Times Square is inimitable," said Witkoff. "There are 150 million people who flow through that six or seven block area every single year so you have two selling days for every day you are open in Times Square. Plus there is very little inventory; it's a high barrier to entry market."
Witkoff's recent residential projects include 111 Murray Street, 150 Charles Street and 10 Madison Square West in New York. Witkoff said he maintains complete control over the projects since it is an "execution shop."
Witkoff said the link between Wall Street bonuses and the high-end Manhattan real estate market is fairly tight. He said the layoffs on bond trading desks at the large brokerage houses, coupled with the sub-par year for hedge fund performance, could weigh on the luxury market, as well as the market for summer homes in the Hamptons.
On the topic of a looming Federal Reserve rate hike, Witkoff said interest rates are still at historically low levels and a minor bump up will not dissuade him from breaking ground on a new project.
"It's less about rates than what is going to happen with credit and will banks suddenly shut off that construction financing credit," said Witkoff.
He added that the current problems in the high yield market are not hurting him, but may pinch some other real estate developers.