amNY series, day three: Q&A with Barbara Corcoran: Buyers, these are the 'good old days'
Barbara Corcoran opened her real estate business in New York in 1973 and is now an author and real estate expert who appears regularly on NBC's "Today" show.
How bad you do remember the 1970s being?
In a nutshell, no one wanted to live in Manhattan. And if I had to, in a nutshell, talk about Manhattan today, I would say everyone wants to live here.
I remember traveling as a young broker (in the 70s) to different conventions, as brokers do. When people would hear that I was a real estate broker in Manhattan, they, honest to God, looked at me like they were shocked I was alive and standing there and telling them.
I remember when Trump Tower was built in 80, 81. That was the clear bellwether change because I distinctly remember going to those same conventions and having an opposite response. People were saying, Oh, it must be some glamorous.Is there anything you miss about that era?
Oh sure. I really miss having the bag people on every other block. I miss going to the Theater District and not being able to bring my parents because I thought they couldnt defend themselves if they were attacked. I miss terribly the squeegee washers on the 59th Street Bridge. I miss the sense of dread going down a street that had no one walking on it. I miss the dogs, and all of them going wherever they wanted to go. I lived on 81st and York at the time, and I used to pick my block based on the aroma in the air. Some blocks were cleaner than others, and I would go out of my way to walk down those blocks.
How do you see the current economic crisis affecting New York?
Real estate and jobs are kissing cousins. The most important jobs in the city that set the tone in the city is Wall Street. So when Wall Street has a problem, real estate feels it immediately.
Right now, everyones worried. Im not worried about real estate prices at all. I think there was going to be somewhat of a shakeout anyway, and this just sped it forward or made people face reality.
Do you see the economic crisis eroding the quality of life in the city at all?
No. I think the only thing that could erode the quality of life in the city is who we have in office and how the city is run. I remember even in great real estate years, with the wrong administration, the city deteriorated pretty quickly.
In those years when the squeegee cleaners got back on the streets and you saw a little more graffiti, before Giuliani came in, the city was going back in the other direction. That had nothing to do with fiscal crisis; that had to do with lack of leadership.
When we emerge from all this, will we notice much of a difference between 2005 and 2010?
Yes, there will be a big difference. Real estate will be more expensive once again, and everyone will look back and say, Why didnt I buy then? Because the truth of the matter is these are the good ol days everybody dreams about. If only, if only. But when they happen, when prices start to soften and you can get a good deal, everybodys too afraid to step out because they dont want to be the last fool in who bought when he could have bought cheaper the next year.
-- Ryan Chatelain