The Biggest Real Estate Deals of 2007

Now that Alex Rodriguez has agreed to a new $275 million contract with the New York Yankees, the word in Manhattan real estate circles is that a $39 million East 80th Street townhouse may be in his future.

Any deal this year would be the country's sixth most expensive home sale of 2007. All of the top five have been in Manhattan.

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It's been that kind of year for the luxury sector in New York. While home prices slid around the country, Manhattan set a new apartment sales record with developer Harry Macklowe's $60 million purchase of an entire Plaza Hotel floor (minus one rogue apartment), and a new price-per-square-foot benchmark ($6,287 per interior square foot) with former Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill's $42.4 million splash into 15 Central Park West.

"It's a record, and we'll see how long it lasts," says Gregory Heym, chief economist at Brown Harris Stevens, a New York-based real estate brokerage. "Even with all the development going on, there aren't a lot of Plazas and 15 Central Park Wests out there." Heym adds that, in a couple years, it might look like Macklowe "got it for cheap."

Behind The Numbers

We compiled our annual list of the most expensive United States home sales by tracking media reports, talking to real-estate brokers and consultants around the country and examining public property records. Prices come from published reports and brokers in the know. There are no doubt deals that would have made our list but were kept under wraps as many high-value sales are privately shopped and executed.

Our list did not include land sales like financier Ronald Baron's $103 million May buy of an East Hampton lot from Schlumberger heiress Alexis de Menil-Carpenter or properties in escrow like the $65 million Belvedere, Calif., estate overlooking the San Francisco Bay that is one of the most expensive homes in the West. What's more, though the Forbes family's approximately 171,400-acre Trinchera Ranch in Colorado, which was sold this month for $175 million to Louis Bacon, head of Moore Capital Management, was used as an executive retreat, for our purposes, it's considered a land purchase. All would have been the most expensive home sold in the country this year.

Big Buys

New York City dominated the list with whales of Wall Street and the mayor himself signing eight-figure purchase contracts. The first non-Gotham property to make the list was hedge fund manager Bruce Kovner's $35 million Mediterranean-style villa, overlooking the ocean from Carpinteria, Calif., outside Santa Barbara. To be fair, it comes as part of a bundled deal. Kovner accumulated $83.5 million worth of property in Carpinteria this year, adding 15 acres of land perched on bluffs overlooking the water. Because they are not contiguous, and Kovner hasn't said anything about combining them, we counted them as separate sales.

Though Tom Cruise's purchase of a $32.5 million Beverly Hills mansion cracked the top 10, celebrities generally are not the ones sitting on the buyer's side of the table at closing. Movie stars collect big checks for films, but once prices top $30 million, buyers tend to be those who can afford to write the kind of checks movie stars hope to receive.

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