by Wendy Maitland
With the lowest ever recorded unemployment rate of 4.2% in NYC and Wall Street bonuses exceeding $30B for the first time since 2007, indicators point to increasing absorption of languishing inventory on the market, as well as an influx of new buyers entering the market in the coming months. This is good news for sellers in various market segments. It isn’t a bad thing for well-positioned buyers, either. However, there is one segment that won’t benefit from the current optimistic economic outlook, at least in the near future: overpriced inventory, nor will buyers who are “bottom feeders”; nor will brokers who encourage either or both. This is why today’s article focuses on a beautiful little thing called “grace”.
Although there is reason to be optimistic, it’s not an exuberant time. There’s no global driver pressing the market to new levels as there has been in the past, when ultra-high net worth individuals based in various countries sought high ground to park cash in the strong, hard asset of NYC real estate. In fact, from an international perspective, there are many reasons why sentiments regarding the U.S. as a safe haven have receded. Those heady days of Russian, Middle Eastern, Asian and European investors lining our streets with gold are in the rear view mirror, at least for now. Not to say that there are not profitable international, tech, and biotech wealth sectors accumulating wealth, which will inevitably “trickle down” to our global city of dreams. It will happen, but not in the way that it has in the past, when our geopolitical and urban political landscapes were a bit friendlier, and felt safer. The possibility is that now is the time when the New York City real estate market is positioned for a healthy balance, at long last. While it doesn’t provide the drama and rollercoaster fun of an extreme cycle, my perspective is that level heads will prevail as we enter a period of relative balance.
No matter how intelligent or successful, buyers and sellers are not known to excel at balance while driven by emotions of the moment. We, as humans, tend to get a bit crazy at the first sign of a shift. There are brokers who give buyers the sense that they’re seeing the last chance of leverage prematurely, and others who will give sellers inflated expectations (what we call “buying a listing”), setting them up for disappointment. If you are a seller, it is more important than ever to be informed and to listen; digest and analyze before making a decision on pricing, or broker representation, or on changing a broker if your property hasn’t sold. Whatever you would like to hear, someone - and likely more than one someone - will tell it to you. It’s music to the ears to hear something that makes you feel good when a listing hasn’t sold, even if one or more good brokers have been diligent and truthful in market analysis, pricing guidance, and in representing the marketing and sales effort of your property. My advice is to take the time to get some perspective, and be patient enough to get to the truth of the matter of value in a challenging and changing market. If you are a buyer, it is more important than ever to have your “ducks in a row.” Whether you're a buyer or a seller, collaboration with a great negotiator and broker to guide you is key to achieving your highest potential success. This is one reason why aligning with the right broker is not to be underestimated. Yes, the profession is still vitally necessary. Would you usher yourself through a surgery just because you’ve mastered the art of Google, or WebMD?
This brings us to the importance of perspective, patience, and grace-- all factors in the long-term health of a balanced cycle, which we experience all too infrequently. Why grace? And what do I mean by that?
I’m glad that you asked. My reasoning lies with an inspirational figure named Bobby Kennedy. Bear with me for what seems like a digression; it is not one. I recently had the good fortune to attend the premiere of the outstanding Netflix series called Bobby Kennedy for President, courtesy of my dear friend, the legendary photojournalist Brian Hamill, who was at the Ambassador Hotel photographing the fateful 1968 campaign event. In reflecting on RFK, what stands out to me is how boldly this competitive, brilliant young man evolved throughout his political career. His courage to shift his position and to implement needed policy change as the nation’s landscape changed, as he learned by getting in the trenches with the people, was astounding and exceedingly rare. Bobby Kennedy’s impact on our nation was thus positive and lasting. I aspire to embrace and embody that trait in my own modest way, to the best of my ability. After all, life changes, markets change, people’s needs pivot, priorities shift, and some people evolve, personally and professionally.
We are all too often comfortable taking a position and digging in our heels, standing for principles that may be outdated, may have even become unethical, or at the very least unhelpful, or just plain wrong. We forget to think, falling back instead on righteousness, or reacting to “influencers”. In my estimation, it is essential to be reflective rather than reflexive in a market and world that compels constant action, where the influx of information is, for the most part, massive and shallow. This lemming reactivity leads to inane trends, erroneous decisions, and worse.
This is precisely when we need to access “grace”, when taking a moment to think, to seek, and to act in consciousness is more difficult and important than it has ever been. If each of us makes a true effort to consistently act with perspective, patience, and grace, imagine how much more sane the market, and we, might be, and how much safer your assets and prospective assets, financially and otherwise, might be? True reflection at this turning point will pave the way for our most productive journey in a market brimming with opportunity for the wise. Whether you’re a seller/developer, buyer, landlord, leaser or a broker, I believe that those who access and act with grace will form the visionary cream of the crop, in real estate and in life.
Footnote: If you’d like to learn more about accessing grace and achieving inner balance, I highly recommend contacting The David Lynch Foundation for Transcendental Meditation, which we were honored to collaborate with on an event earlier this month at our featured listing 170 Mercer Street Penthouse, featuring CEO Bob Roth, whose NY Times instant bestseller “Strength In Stillness” can be purchased on Amazon. Check out our gallery for photos!