Property Grunt

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When brokers attack

Below is a letter written by Steven Spinola, the president of REBNY, in a response to the October 23, 2005 New York Times article titled “Slippery Devil, That Real Estate Bubble”

October 31, 2005

Attn: Thomas Feyer
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

To the Editor:

I read with interest the recent article “Slippery Devil, That Real Estate Bubble” (Oct. 23).

Though the article states that apartment prices in Manhattan dropped 13% from July through September, I’d like to set the record straight.

The Miller Samuel report, the same one cited in the article, also shows that average prices per square foot were at the highest levels ever in the third quarter, increasing nearly 25% compared to last year. Average sales prices, though dipping from the second quarter, are up 10% since last year.

Furthermore, market reports compiled by REBNY found that median prices for apartments are 9% higher than last year, with condominium median prices increasing 22%. Cooperative sales activity also increased 21% in the third quarter.

What is troubling is that this is the second story written by this reporter utilizing the same statistic, which doesn’t take into account other valuable market indicators. It leads me to believe that the reporter is arguing an opinion not backed up by the facts. One statistic doesn’t encapsulate the residential market in Manhattan. In fact, the statistics clearly state the market remains strong.

Steven Spinola
Real Estate Board of New York

I am not surprised REBNY has jumped into the fray. There has been some rumblings in the brokerage community reagarding the New York Times coverage of the real estate market. I even heard a little banter about boycotting of New York Times by brokers since a huge chunk of the classified ads comes from brokers. But nothing ever came of it.

Brokers are very sensitive now with way this market is turning. Even if the numbers indicate that the market is still going strong the mindset of consumers has changed drastically since the fall. This leaves brokers between a rock and a hard place and the New York Times coverage doesn’t help our plight.

Mind you I am not saying that the New York Times should back off. They should publish where ever the story leads them. It’s their job. But please bear in mind that if the brokerage community feels it has been slighted in anyway they will make their displeasure known.