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It has been a bad period for Board turndowns. In the last few months, we at Warburg Realty have lost several major deals because of co-operative Board decisions; several more have been fortuitously snatched from the jaws of defeat by industrious agents who would not take “no” for an answer and managed to get the decisions reversed. In the latter cases, the Board saw financial issues which could have been resolved by asking the applicant a couple of questions, but rather than clarify, they voted to reject. It is as if they forget that actual people’s lives are at stake. As a former Board president myself, I know that in the confines of the Board meeting it is easy to forget how profoundly distressing a Board rejection can be to both buyer and seller. Boards should only use this measure as a last resort. The number of prospective buyers who go on to be excellent tenants, even excellent Board members, in a second co-op after being rejected at a first demonstrates the gratuitous nature of many turndowns. But as agents more often than not we are powerless over this outcome after the package is submitted.
While the package is being prepared, however, the agent has the opportunity to wield substantial influence. This influence can make the difference between a perfect package and one which raises questions in the mind of the Board. Preparing the package is like staging a military campaign; it requires both a plan and a strategy. And what we need while we are doing this planning and strategizing, more than anything, is the co-operation of the principals, most particularly the buyer and the buyer’s attorney.
For most buyers the preparation of the package is an inconvenience to which they want to devote as little time and thought as possible. Even if they know from the beginning what the process is, even if they have served on the Boards of the buildings in which they currently live, the completeness of the information required always comes as a shock and an irritant when applied to THEM. And we as agents understand this. But it is our job to manage this frustration to assemble the most complete and well organized document we can. So herewith a few recommendations:
· Make sure your lawyer provides you with enough time to prepare a good package. Usually 15 business days will suffice. And just as your lawyer should negotiate your contract, not your agent, your agent should prepare your package, not your lawyer. They are good at what they do, we are good at what we do.
· DON’T write the personal letters yourself! And don’t send all your friends the same sample letter either. We consistently get letters all of which are written in the same font, or use the same words, refer to the same experiences, sometimes even contain identical paragraphs. As you can imagine, this doesn’t impress Boards much! What you, as the buyer, should do is figure out who amongst your friends writes well, and which five or six of them can write about different aspects of your life – your kids (if you have them), your family of origin, your philanthropic work, and anything else you feel will give these strangers a well-rounded picture of who you are. And always get extra letters. At least one is bound to be a dud!
· Ideally the letters, both personal and business, are between a page and two pages long. The writers should introduce themselves so their identities are clear. One or two sentences of introduction suffice. I am not a fan of the letters in which the writer devotes ¾ of the space to touting HIS credentials.
· For the financials, pick a date, usually the last day of the preceding month or the month before that. Gear every piece of documentation – bank letters, bank statements, appraisal letters etc.– to that date. And remember every Board contains at least one financial compulsive who will review the financials with a fine tooth comb. So you must be precise. The numbers on your Financial Statement should correlate EXACTLY to the numbers on the back up bank, brokerage, and appraisal letters you include.
· Above all, be patient and listen to your agent. Assembling this data into the coherent format which gives the Board a true and accurate picture of who you are and what your circumstances are takes time and effort, and it IS invasive. But in the end you get the home you chose, and in which you will hopefully live happily for years to come. A little inconvenience is not so high a price to pay for such a good result.
My daughter returned home from a year long stint working in orphanages in Thailand and Vietnam on September 10, 2001. My wife was in Berkeley helping my brother get his kids organized for school while my sister in law was in the hospital. On the morning of the 11th I went to work, and agents began coming into my office urging me to turn on the radio as something unimaginable was going on. I did, and then we moved to the video screen in our conference room, tuned to CNBC. It seemed we had entered an alternate reality. My daughter called, totally disoriented, and said, “You have to come home.” I complied. I will never forget walking out of the office and onto Madison Avenue. There was not a single car in sight as I gazed downtown, but on the horizon smoke was billowing up toward the sky. New York, America, and the world were changed forever.
In the subsequent weeks, as all real estate activity ground to a halt and buyers, one after another, began to default on their contracts, I and all my colleagues had to contemplate our business going forward. What did it mean? What values underpinned it? The answer which emerged for me, and for Warburg, was surprisingly simple: we love New York.
Seeing our city wounded, and so many loved ones, including the son of one of our agents, lost, reinforced that love like nothing else. We were filled with admiration for the bravery of our police and firefighters. We mourned with all those who lost family and friends. We admired the way our arts organizations rose to the occasion with concerts and theater pieces celebrating and memorializing our city, its gifts and its losses. And we were filled with admiration for the indomitable quality of our neighbors, whose commitment to the city remained as strong or stronger than ever, who were not filled with despair, who rebuilt and rededicated themselves to a better world, with New York still at its vital center.
Over and over during those tragic and difficult first weeks I said to our agents “Forget about selling property for the time being. Our job in this crisis is to be the Chamber of Commerce for New York. Sell your love of the city – its glamour, its neighborliness, its cultural richness, its beauty (which seemed particularly poignant in the presence of the absence of the towers). “
Today, even in this time of economic uncertainty, that message remains compelling. The city is more beautiful and brilliant, more filled with food and fun, with art and architecture, with music and mystery, than it has ever been. And for me the message with which I walked away from that terrible day still resonates: in its diversity and cultural differences, in its striving, in its recovery, our city represents the best hope for a more tolerant, more peaceful world going forward. We live together here in raucous harmony. Why? Because we love New York.
The summer rentals are ending, the vacations are winding down, and all over New York City real estate agents are preparing for the fall season. After the economic uncertainty of the summer, it seems likely that both buyers and sellers will be second guessing their own decisions as the season progresses. So let’s try to answer some of the most basic questions here and now:
Although most New Yorkers rent, the answer to the question “why buy?” is a fundamental one which weaves it way through American life. In no other country is the concept of home ownership so enshrined. We give tax breaks for mortgages, tax breaks for real estate taxes, all because we as a nation believe so profoundly in the concept of home ownership. Kids grow up believing that owning a home is an indication of success, proof that you have made it. Home ownership has burrowed deep into the American mind set; it embodies both security and success. Renting is easy, it can be cheaper, but it doesn’t provide the same level of satisfaction or sense of arrival.
Why buy now?
This is a question agents can never answer. I have learned over the years that the smartest and most successful agents are facilitators, not convincers. The customer always has to answer this question for him or herself. I never try to talk anyone into anything. That said, there are always good reasons to buy now. It means you can begin the process of ordering your life around your new home. But…If you find what you want, then the time to act is now. Many buyers I have dealt with over the years have let go of a property they really liked because they were sure the market was too high, or a better one would come along, or that they could somehow second guess the trajectory of the marketplace. No one ever knows what will happen next, and more often than not they end up sorry. When you and your life are ready, be ready to act. The rest is all, ultimately, irrelevant.
What should I buy?
It always makes sense to reach just a little bit. Not to seriously overextend yourself; that is NEVER a good idea. But to try to buy the best space in the best location you possibly can. When my wife and I did that, we lived for a year with a 50 year old kitchen and over 20 years with original bathrooms. It took us a while to afford the renovations, but every day we enjoyed the wonderful location and spacious rooms of our apartment. Maybe it takes a few years to get new furniture. Maybe it takes a few years to tear down those walls or re-imagine that dining room as a family room. But as long as you got yourself good bones in a good spot, everything else will fall into place.
Here in Sharon, Connecticut where I rode out the hurricane with three generations of my family, the sky cleared around 1 AM last night , and the storm gave way to an extraordinarily clear starry night. That morphed this morning into the most perfect day possible. This house, which my wife and I renovated painstakingly over a period of almost two years, has become a wonderful gathering place for family and friends at holiday time, in moments of crisis (my niece, her husband, and their baby son came here three days ago from Brooklyn once they heard all the subways were shutting down and there was no food or bottled water left in the stores!), and for re-establishing a sense of connection with people I love and with the world at large. As I cooked for everyone (I love to feed a crowd), I thought about the meaning of creating a home.
Both our apartment in New York and our house in Connecticut have been centers for family activity. It takes a while to make a dwelling place into a home, and for me, owning rather than renting has given me the sense of permanence, of belonging, which has made that transition possible. True, many people rent long term and feel similarly about their homes, but for me owning is an integral part of the home building experience. I would believe in it with or without the mortgage tax deduction, and regardless of whether my home always seemed like a “good investment.”
The question is, investment in what? I have written before in the blogs about my belief that New Yorkers focus too much on the notion of their home as an investment. When I bought the house in Connecticut, at the top of the market back in 2005, I knew I was paying on the high side. And that was before the renovation! Recently, for a refinance, it was appraised for about 2/3 of what I have in it. But so what? Stocks are down too, and I have no plan to sell this in my lifetime because it makes us all happy. What is the value of that?
So, New Yorkers, remember that money is not the value which counts the most. The home in which you can raise a family or entertain friends or give great parties will fill up with memories and associations which enrich your life and fill you with a sense of well being about your history and experiences. Price per square foot is important, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the importance of creating the right backdrop against which your life can unfold.
Although the beginning of fall is officially a month away, today it feels like fall. There are a few leaves changing color (early, but still…) and I am thinking about what a tumultuous summer it has been for Americans. Economists and politicians were united in predicting recovery in 2011, but instead we have gotten a debt ceiling crisis, a bond downgrade, persistent high unemployment, slow growth, and the threat of inflation. The E.U. is worse off than we are, with violent rioting in London and economic unrest throughout the continent. But New York has so far been a haven of stability.
I think there are a number of reasons for this. We are an English speaking international city which ISN’T having riots. Although the financial sector is shedding jobs again, the firms seem both stable and profitable. And while consumers nationwide seem to be stuck, the high end markets in New York, including real estate, continue to enjoy activity. We have seen deals done in August throughout the spectrum of prices, with a tilt towards the more expensive properties. But the two weeks before Labor Day are always a little slow and provide some time for reflection.
Inventory remains low for co-ops priced above $1.5 million in Manhattan, and for townhouses of all prices in Brooklyn. No one to whom I talk believes that is going to change much in September. The famed “shadow inventory” which was supposed to bedevil the condo market for years to come is being absorbed, with many foreigners purchasing units. We are finding traffic brisk at our new developments in Chelsea, in Harlem, and in the Financial District, although our buyers in both Chelsea and Harlem are locals – New Yorkers who appreciate the quality of today’s buildings and are excited to buy the newest thing. There is very little under construction so as these properties sell out nothing is replacing them.
Why is inventory still tight here when the opposite is true elsewhere in the U.S.? For one thing, the market I am discussing is highly geographically contained, and cannot spread. For another, there has been minimal foreclosure, which is one of the primary sources of oversupply in the rest of the country. And for a third, even as the job situation drives people from New York to other parts of the country, the exodus to the suburbs has slowed. Commuting is hard. The schools are no longer so great. And teenagers seem to be getting into at least as much trouble in Chappaqua or Greenwich as they could in New York. The cultural richness, ease, diversity, and excitement of New York continue to be a magnet. Private schools are oversubscribed, as are many public schools like PS 6 on the Upper East Side and PS 238 in Tribeca.
That said, most people feel cautious as we head into September. The wild gyrations of the stock market, added to everything else, have made many real estate buyers step back, at least for the couple of weeks until after the holiday. Those I speak to still want to buy, and they will act if they see the right thing, but they do not feel urgency. As I have said before, the hyped up pace which characterized the more expensive market in April and May has dissipated, leaving buyers focused on value, condition, and location. My guess is that these “Big Three” items will continue to dominate discussions as the fall progresses.
Is there any point in writing about last week’s stock gyrations? What sense can be made out of a market which goes up 400 points one day and down 400 points another? Things just did not change that much between Wednesday and Thursday! I am grateful that real estate, MY product, is not so profoundly reactive, if only because it can’t be traded by making a phone call. The fact that real estate cannot be sold quickly stabilizes the market and of necessity injects some thought and rationality into the process.
Speaking of thought and rationality and real estate, let’s take a look at the negotiation process as it unfolds in an environment like this one. Buyers and sellers must both exercise caution in their responses to the current situation. For buyers, the tendency is to immediately interpret any instability like that which followed on the heels of the S & P debt downgrade as a sign that sellers should immediately shave an additional 15% off their prices. We have no idea if that will happen (my guess is it won’t) but it certainly has not happened in the last week! That said, sellers also need to be cautious in refusing to accept offers which are within a stone’s throw of their realistic goals. Real buyers making real offers are not to be dismissed lightly.
So…realistic buyers know that it is not appropriate to make offers 20% below an asking price, but they also know they have more leverage than they did a few months ago when the market experienced its hot spring moment. April and May were a phenomenon which we will not see again for a while, with a 2007-like fervor gripping buyers. Even at the high end of the market, and in new developments, where deals continue to be made at excellent prices, there is considerably less urgency than there was two months ago. And I do not anticipate that that will change in September.
Realistic sellers, on the other hand, know that buyers are seeking location, light, and condition, and that they as sellers need to price accordingly. But they also know that for many buyers, frustrated with a search in which good properties seem few and far between, September is not likely to unleash a flood of new inventory. So it makes sense for buyers to follow the basic rule of shopping for anything: if you see what you want, buy it! Don’t wait because you haven’t seen enough, or because you hope something better will magically appear. Chances are that sort of magic will prove to be elusive!
Our job as brokers is to make sure that buyers and sellers don’t end up like Congress: deadlocked. We do that by trying to find compromises which protect the basic aims of our principals while making concessions to make the other side feel heard and respected. In the end successful negotiations are the same, whether the product is a new home or a bill to address the nation’s financial woes. People of good faith listen to each other and extend themselves. That behavior almost always results in a successful outcome.
It has taken me thirty years in the real estate business to figure out what real estate marketing is actually for. And over the years the notion of marketing has continued to evolve, so just when I thought I had caught it, it squirmed away. But here is what I think today, with a little historical perspective thrown in.
When I started in real estate in the early 80s, it was ALL about the New York Times classified section. There were no giant firms then, and we all vied to see who had the largest number of columns of classifieds in the Sunday Times. Depending on how well you did, you got one, two, three or more ads per week. And since there were only open listings in those days, no exclusives, you had to go hunt down the properties you were going to advertise. And then see that other people had hunted them down too: you could always tell when someone else had an ad for the same apartment as you. Sometimes, with a newer listing, three or four people had it in. We knew that because every Monday the entire office sat with the Classified section to figure out what properties we DIDN’T have, so we could go get them. But it didn’t really matter because, despite what the seller thought, the point of that ad was NOT to sell that apartment. The point was to get people to call you.
During the 90s we became an exclusive marketplace. Gradually, open listings went the way of the dinosaur and with them the idea of columns in the Times began to seem less important. The Time Magazine gained in favor. Glossies containing only social gossip and real estate ads came and went, each claiming to be indispensable before disappearing forever. And I became increasingly disenchanted with print advertising. It was all, to quote the wonderful Evelin Corsey who ran Albert Ashforth for so many years, a “sea of sameness.” How could I, who ran a smaller company, hope to distinguish Warburg or stand out in venue after venue in which all my competitors appeared as well? I realized that I needed to start thinking like a marketer, not an advertiser. Advertising properties was a means to a series of ends. For the seller, it meant their property received exposure. For the agent, it meant access to buyers. But for me, it meant building the brand!
Then, as with so many things, the Internet transformed the world. We had to spend a fortune building a website, but then all of our properties appeared on it, 24/7, for minimal ongoing cost. Posting on nytimes.com was less then half the price of a classified ad. So 6 years ago I made a commitment to myself to get out of the classifieds altogether. I had always hated them, and they seemed increasingly like a big waste of money. I wanted to spend that money on search engine optimization to drive as many people as possible to our website. (Some things, of course haven’t changed. Agents are more inclined than ever to write ads which are too long and give too much detail. They forget that selling the property on line is not the point: the goal of advertising is to MAKE BUYERS CONTACT YOU!) And we focused in earnest on branding activities. Instead of classifieds, we took a monthly full page in the Times. It boosted our web traffic 25% on the day it appeared and made a big statement about Warburg. We found print venues (Playbill, New York Magazine) which were uncluttered with other real estate ads. And when our competitors discovered them, we moved on. And more of our marketing dollars and time went to, and go to, PR. I and many of my agents are quoted often in the media. Warburg has its gig on “Selling New York”, which is watched by more people than I could ever even imagine. And, as you know all too well if you are reading this right now, I blog every week. In 2011, 100,000 people per month have entered our website through the blog.
One of my competitors was recently quoted saying that no one will buy a $10 million apartment because they saw it on TV. I agree. And this blog doesn’t sell property either. That is not the point. The point is marketing, not advertising. As we engage in more unique activities, the brand gets more widely known. It becomes more top of mind. As it becomes more top of mind, more people associate to it when they are considering their own, or a friend’s, real estate needs. And then they e-mail us. And THAT is the point!
It has always been true that borrowing was easiest for people who did not need the money. Of course since the Lehman collapse even rich people have not had such an easy time borrowing money. And since Dodd-Frank (the bill which Congress enacted post-meltdown to more closely regulate the banking and mortgage industries) became law it is also becoming harder and harder for mortgage brokers to help buyers FIND money, both because more and more capital sources want to do their own loans and because the provisions of Dodd-Frank make it harder than ever for mortgage brokers to get paid. So here we are, in an environment in which money is hard to come by, mortgage brokers are more challenged than ever, and most funding sources want to be approached directly. Who can get a mortgage, and how?
At Warburg, we are increasingly working with direct sources. Met Life, with whom we now have an affiliation, has worked closely with us and our buyers on new development deals. They are smart and proactive in their strategizing to get loans made. Many buyers are going to Wells Fargo or to Chase or Citibank. We also like many of the local banks, which make the loans for their own portfolios.
If you are looking for a loan, it is worth finding out from your agent or the building’s managing agent what banks have recently financed in the building. While this can be a Catch-22, since banks are only willing to make a certain number of loans in a building before they reach their maximum, the advantage is that the bank must have previously approved the building in order to have loaned there. And bank approval of a building is no small thing. Until 2009 we never had a situation in which a buyer’s credit was approved and then the bank wouldn’t lend in the building. After the recession began, that became commonplace. Did the co-op have adequate reserves in their annual budget for capital projects? No? No loan. Did the building have adequate insurance in the opinion of the lender? No? No loan. And so it goes. Things are a little easier now, but make no mistake about it - the lending environment has changed forever.
And credit scores? Another absolute Catch-22 situation. Do you have TOO MANY cards? Uh oh - bad for your score! Do you have too few? Uh oh - bad for your score! Do you have cards you don’t use? Uh oh-bad for your score! And, my personal favorite, has your credit score been checked too often? Uh oh - bad for your score! Thank God they now have credit brokers who can help you scrub your score when you discover that, even though you pay your bills regularly, your credit isn’t so hot for reasons you absolutely can’t understand.
Finally, if your credit is good enough, and your bank actually has money which it is willing to lend, and your building passes muster, then the actual appraisal has to come in at the right number. New York is a specialized marketplace, but in the wake of the real estate meltdown and the subsequent regulatory intervention, banks have been forced to relinquished control over which appraisers assess the properties on which they are offering loans. So appraisers from outside New York, who sometimes don’t even know what a co-op is, much less how to distinguish the qualities of one from another, show up and completely misjudge our properties. When the appraisals come in low (and they NEVER come in too high) either the lender reduces the amount of the loan or the buyer wants to renegotiate the deal. That is another reason we like MetLife: they work with a panel of local appraisers who actually know the buildings we work in!
Luckily all these steps are a little easier than they were in 2009, so if you are trying today you probably WILL get a loan. There now, that wasn’t so bad, was it…?
This is my 105th blog. I had no idea I had written so many. I started writing the blogs because I wanted to create points of entry for lay people and colleagues alike into what real estate agents do, how we think, and how consumers can more effectively advocate for themselves within the broker/client relationship. I wanted to demonstrate some of the complexity inherent in our jobs as well as the multiple pleasures. Our business involves strategizing, it involves relationship management, it involves aesthetics, it involves negotiating skill, and it often involves being a strong hand within the softest velvet glove. There is no other work quite like it.
So who are the people who succeed at this work? Recently Warburg’s management team has tried to standardize the way our three Sales Directors interview broker candidates. Certain things are givens – we need a resume, we need a list of sales broken down by year for anyone with a history in the business, and we require a DISC test, which is a remarkably accurate 7 minute online personality assessment. We have found over the years that a certain type tends to do well in brokerage: good people skills and enough backbone to be a closer. The timid, or those excessively interested in people pleasing, rarely close deals.
As the group discussed what we are looking for in candidates, a number of things became clear to us. Like every business, we want people who are at ease with technology. The world of the broker revolves around computers, the more sophisticated the better. Good math skills are important; not only the ability to quickly calculate 5% or 6% in your head, but also the ability to understand complex financial statements and organize them clearly for Board review. A great Rolodex helps, but it provides no guarantee that its possessor knows what to do with it. It needs to be accompanied by a tight business plan. And we try to never hire anyone who says they want to become an agent because they “like people” or “like architecture!” That’s fine, but it simply isn’t enough.
As I have noted before in these blogs, the changes in the information superhighway have transformed our business. As we have moved out of the information business and into the expertise business our core competencies have had to evolve. Negotiating is more fast paced and much of the background information is now transmitted by e-mail. But it is a foolish agent who conducts negotiations on the computer. They require the nuanced understanding only voice to voice communication can provide. In fact one of today’s core skills is knowing when NOT to use technology! A good broker does much more research than he or she did 15 years ago – on the market comps, closed sales, prices per square foot, scalability of pricing by floor, by view, by condition. But interpreting the mass of data available to both us and our clients is more important and complex than ever before. Hence the expertise!
So this is why I blog: I want to underline the professionalism which agents acquire but for which they are rarely recognized and the skills which the work demands. I want consumers to be aware of what we do and of what they need to do to make sure their real estate transactions run as smoothly as I can. I want to provide real time information about the market and how it reflects and counters economic trends. And I hope those with the skills described above will consider a career in the residential sales business. It’s rewarding, it’s endlessly interesting and various, and it’s fun. True, it eats your life, but I suspect almost every engaging job does that. Warburg and the other top firms employ ex-bankers, lawyers, teachers, performers, actors, and, increasingly, ambitious young men and women just out of college who see residential as their lifetime career. Do YOU love what YOU do?
Like the national economy, the New York City real estate marketplace keeps moving two steps forward and one step back. Of course, since the national real estate market takes one step forward followed by TWO steps back, this is not so bad! Nonetheless, the local market’s gyrations can confuse veteran and novice alike, so I will try to deconstruct it, from a high altitude, to the best of my ability.
First, at all price levels and in most neighborhoods, the trajectories of the co-op and condo markets continue to diverge. As the world economy lurches from anxious moment to anxious moment, foreign investors continue to pour their money into real estate in Manhattan. From Latin America, from Asia, from Europe - we are seeing buyers from all over the globe eager to park their cash in the relative safety of condominiums in New York. And with vacancies in the rental market at historic lows, and rents therefore at historic highs, properties of all sizes are easily and profitably rentable. Well located condos from one to four bedrooms, from the Financial District to Harlem, trade briskly provided they are appropriately priced, with the vast majority of buyers (especially south of 110th Street) coming from out of town or out of the country.
Of course, some local buyers purchase condos too, frequently because everything is new. Condition has emerged as a key factor in determining what sells and what doesn’t. The time, expense, and uncertainty of renovation appeal to buyers less and less, and many have been willing to pay a premium to buy older properties in mint condition. Since the beginning of June, however, the resurging problems with Greece and the poor national employment numbers suggest a slowing recovery, which has given pause to domestic buyers even as foreigners remain willing to purchase promptly. The co-op market, always more oriented to domestic and usually local buyers, has shown the effects of this increased anxiety. Most agents I speak with confirm that they are showing their exclusives less, and that properties which they expected to trade quickly are not receiving offers or even frequent requests to show. This phenomenon can be seen at all price levels, although it is particularly noticeable at the top of the market, for which the second quarter of 2011 was the strongest in many years.
While there have been several trophy trades in June, there is a definite feeling of slowdown in the $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 co-op market, which had been both quick and hot leading into Memorial Day. And for units trading between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, a similar dynamic applies. Under $1,000,000 the market remains sluggish, as it has been for most of 2011 outside the new condo sector. The relative strength and high pricing in the rental market reflect, as they so often do, a reluctance to purchase on the part of studio, one, and two bedroom clients.
More than at any time in the past several years, condition and pricing dictate the speed with which transactions take place. For very well priced units with fabulous views or unique features or perfect condition (not to mention some combination of the above), multiple offers and competitive bids over the asking price still occur. But the frequency of even those occurrences has diminished markedly in the past five weeks.
Looking ahead, our economic realities remain uncertain. Nationally and internationally, deleveraging has a long way to go before debt subsides to manageable levels. Luckily that is probably good news for New York. As America’s most international city we will continue to be a hub for global business and its practitioners both foreign and domestic. Their presence and the deep wells of capital which they have injected into our real estate environment have lent it a stability which has insulated us against the worst of the ongoing real estate crisis, in which foreclosed homes and short sales (of which we have had few) have been the backbone of real estate sales activity throughout most of the nation. And stability is just what we are hoping for as we segue into summer.
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