Beatles Busker Swoons NYC

A sound wafts down the corridor under 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, greeting passengers getting on and off the L, F, and red line trains. Caught in swatches at first, it slowly becomes familiar, a melody heard a thousand times before. Recognition clicks as the source comes into view: it’s an old Beatles tune, sung in a slightly nasal tenor reminiscent of the young John Lennon. When speaking, however, Zack Heru’s voice is a scratchy baritone.

“I’m here to be seen, to be spotted. It’s an advertisement,” the Beatles busker says. “Too many talented people die unnoticed, like apples on a tree.”

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New Boom?

[caption id="attachment_10099" align="alignleft" width="452" caption="“The pace of demand is quite strong in Manhattan and the markets are healthy compared to the dog days of 2009,” said Noah Rosenblatt of Urbandigs.com (Photo credit: Urbandigs.com)"][/caption]

The New York real estate market is looking up—but not too far, say brokers at the city’s leading companies.

Though he signed three contracts on properties this past January, compared to two a year ago, Louis Esposito of Prudential Douglas Elliman—New York’s largest brokerage in residential properties—doesn’t expect 2011 to be “anything like 2007 or 2006.”

“We’re definitely spending more time chasing our tails,” Esposito remarks. “Financing is tightening up.”

But money is still coming into the company off deals made last year, when Esposito says buyers came out thanks to tax credits and lubricated lending from the stimulus package.  Though he says 2011 won’t see a return to pre-recession levels, it will definitely beat 2009, a “tricky year, where buyers were scared.” And he’s optimistic about where the market is going:

“I think it’s coming back,” Esposito says, predicting that 2013 will more resemble the flush years from early last decade.

However, Noah Rosenblatt of Urbandigs.com strongly warns against forecasting another explosion in construction and prices like the city saw in the early 2000s. “Credit would have to go nuts again, buyers would have to go nuts. Everything is different now, the underwriting, the credit products available to buyers, the regulation is different. It’s ridiculous to even use the word ‘boom’ right now.”

Still, Rosenblatt—whose company uses a real-time tracking system to show contracts in Manhattan as they are signed—reports having trouble lately finding residences for his clients. “There’s a lack of quality product that’s priced to move quickly.”

“The pace of demand is quite strong in Manhattan and the markets are healthy compared to the dog days of 2009,” even though prices remain off-peak.

Chris Cavorti of Corcoran Group Real Estate, says that reduced costs have brought buyers out in Brooklyn, and agrees with Esposito that the stimulus package helped make 2010 a better year than 2009. While he shares Rosenblatt’s concerns about stricter lending practices, he says he’s been consistently busy from 2010 to 2011.

“Volume in sales has sprung up, and inventory is low. We’ve got more people coming in with cash.” He mentions a recent bid he made on a Park Slope property that exceeded the asking price by $50,000—and was still rejected. Most of his offers, he says, are at list price or less than 6% below it.

But Cavorti  is more cautious than Esposito about forecasting another market surge.

“The market is stable right now and will continue to be stable, but I don’t think prices are going to go up much—but I don’t think they’ll go down either. It’s very hard to speculate. We’re just going with the flow of the market.”