A View From The Heights: How's The Market?

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Just about every day I get stopped on the street or on the phone with the question du moment..."Perry, how's the market?" Brows furrowed, jaws tense, eyebrows raised. The world these days is a scary place.

My answer is always the same. This is New York, for heaven's sake. It depends on where you're sitting. Are you interested in buying, selling, renting, or investing? There are opportunities all over the place.

But oh my lordy what if you're a seller? Quel horreur!

Settle down, missy. If you bought your apartment in the Heights decades ago, or even before 2000, then you bought in for twelve dollars and fifty cents and you're just whining. You're going to do just fine no matter what.

But even if you're a relatively new Heights-ite, you've probably watched your wealth grow in the last few years in real numbers: local appraisers have estimated home values more than doubling since 2003, until mid-September of this year when the world changed.

So maybe we're down seven to ten percent since then, and maybe we have another bit of downward push to endure. So what? For us in the Heights this kind of average year-over-year growth is pretty much unmatchable in other markets in which we might invest. And we understand that what goes up must come down, and if history is prologue will rise again.
Let's face it - Heights-ites are not generally major financial players. We're salary earners, professionals, practitioners, academics, artists, first-time homebuyers. We tend to invest for extended stays in the Heights because why on earth would we want to be anywhere else, living as we do here at the top of the world, with our fabulous community and neighborliness, parks and bike paths, rivers and wildlife, tennis and biking, Caf´┐Ż con leche, cubanos, cuisine, shopping and services and speedy delivery to the neighborhoods in which we work. We even have a Broadway musical created in our honor!

So about today's uptown real estate market, I urge you to focus on a couple of things: nobody is selling right now because they think it would be fun, or because this is the time to flip, or because they're just sick of their apartments. Sellers are selling now because they've been transferred to DC or have just given birth to twins and are crammed into a one bedroom apartment, or they've gotten a Fulbright or are ready to bag the city and move to Santa Fe. People have to sell when they have to sell.

And conversely, those who are buying have to live someplace. They've been transferred from DC, or they've just given birth to twins, or they're just coming home from working overseas and don't want to rent anymore.

And if you find that you must sell at a loss, as my husband did when he unloaded his co-op in 1995 at a $4,000 loss to marry me and move to New York, he stopped for a minute and realized that the total cost of living in his perfect jewel of an apartment in a neighborhood that he loved was well worth it.

So stay strong, Heights-ites. This too shall pass. And if you have to take a little hit on your sale, you can get a buy on your next purchase, and all will be well. So bless our hearts each and every one. Until next time, make it a great day...


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