Deal flow for office properties in Manhattan is stuttering despite prices that are soaring higher than levels seen during the pre-crisis market peak. So far, there haven’t been any high-profile transactions—properties such as One Chase Manhattan Plaza, 650 Madison Avenue and the General Motors Building that dominated 2013—and brokers and investors alike are grumbling about the lack of product up for sale.

One broker put the phenomenon down to an “I told you so” attitude from New York’s real estate barons. New York was built, and is still largely controlled by, its real estate families. “Patriarchs who held onto....

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