The secret is out — kind of.
Foreign investors, celebrities or maybe just someone wanting to remain anonymous are purchasing homes in New York City using a limited liability company (LLC) and a new report by StreetEasy is examining where most of these homes are being bought.
According to StreetEasy, forming an LLC allows buyers to have their identities hidden in public sales records and often times makes it close to impossible for anyone to find out who bought a certain home.
Based on data from the report, since 1995 almost half of all LLC purchases that were made in New York City were in Midtown and downtown Manhattan.
According to the report, LLCs were used to purchase over 540 properties in Manhattan with prices of at least $3 million in 2015 — an increase from 233 in 2010 and 496 in 2014.
StreetEasy also looked into particular Manhattan buildings that have a large number of LLC purchases, such as 15 Central Park West which has 113 LLCs with a median price of $8,756,950 and Trump International with 107 purchases and a median price of $1,981,200.
Between 2005 and 2015, LLC purchases in Manhattan increased from 442 to 1,449.
Queens followed with the second highest number of LLC sales, increasing from 51 in 2005 to 588 in 2015.
Brooklyn comes in third with 564 purchases, up from 77 over the past decade, and the Bronx and Staten Island have the least LLC purchases, which are up from 31 and zero in 2005 to 164 and 132, respectively.
StreetEasy also found that compared to all home purchases, those which were bought through LLCs saw slower price growth in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The median resale price of homes purchased using an LLC in Manhattan increased by 26.1 percent between 2005 and 2015, a number slightly lower than the 10-year price growth of all homes in the borough, which was 31 percent.
The report showed that the median resale price for LLC properties in the borough fell each month since May 2015, decreasing 2.3 percent.
And even though the long-term price growth of the LLC-bought homes is lower than that for all homes in Manhattan, homes purchases through LLCs are still more expensive. The median resale price of LLC-purchased homes is more than $1 million higher than the resale price of all homes as of January 2015.
For Brooklyn, homes bought using an LLC saw a negative price growth over the past 10 years with the median sale price decreasing 5.6 percent between 2005 and 2013. This number is compared to a 19.5 increase among all homes in Brooklyn during the same time period.
According to StreetEasy, the negative price growth for LLC properties in Brooklyn may suggest that buyers were significantly overpaying in the late 2000s.
The report concluded with stating that although LLC purchases are likely to continue to be popular, things might get tricky after the U.S. Treasury recently announced the requirement of releasing buyer identities for Manhattan transactions priced at or above $3 million.