The Real Deal New York

The end of the world as we know it

By Stuart Elliott | January 01, 2013 07:00AM

If you are reading this note, the world has not ended.

There is something about the end of the year that lends itself to predictions of the end of the world.

“The Late Great Planet Earth,” which, according to Time magazine, was the best-selling nonfiction book of the entire 1970s, predicted that the world would end before Dec. 31, 1988 (nuclear war, communism and violence in the Middle East were the culprits). Then there was Y2K — where at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, the entire global computer network was slated to crash, causing widespread chaos.

And the end of the 5,000-year Mayan calendar this past Dec. 21 was also supposed to signal the cessation of existence as we know it, thanks to an asteroid called Nibiru. (There is actually little evidence that the Mayans held this belief, though it did serve as inspiration for the disaster movie “2012,” starring John Cusack.)

The end of the Mayan calendar was not the only doomsday scenario this year. The other, of course, was the so-called fiscal cliff, a bureaucratic end-of-the-world narrative centering on political gridlock, which many fear will lead to a hobbled government (as a result of reduced spending and the expiration of a host of tax cuts) that will throw the economy into a tailspin.

That is the real scenario to be worried about, given its potential impact on Americans’ pocketbooks. That’s not to mention its impact on the New York City real estate market, which we examine in this issue, including in a story about what’s on tap for the New Year: Predicting the 2013 market.

The anxiety surrounding the fiscal cliff, which was still (unbelievably) unresolved at press time, hasn’t been all bad news for the market. In fact, while winter is normally a slow time for real estate, the number of residential sales in the fourth quarter was up nearly 30 percent compared to the same time the year before. That bump in activity was prompted by looming increases in capital gains taxes, according to industry pros. Check out the story by Hayley Kaplan, our newest reporter, “Manhattan sales volume perks up.”

In addition, the outlook for the 2013 Manhattan residential market going forward could be good. Some are predicting prices may rise in the New Year because of a shortage of available apartments. And a look back at the most expensive residential sales of the past year — where many records were broken — is a cause for optimism as well (see: The top rental deals of 2012 — and the agents behind them).

Meanwhile, another end-of-the-world-type event (there were a lot this year) was Hurricane Sandy. With cleanup underway, lawyers and insurance companies are now front and center. (Insert your own joke here about lawyers and the end of the world.)

Owners of some of Lower Manhattan’s hard-hit buildings are facing skyrocketing insurance premiums, as well as fighting with tenants over when their rent payments should resume. Check out the series of stories by Adam Pincus: Insurance rates spike for hard-hit landlords.

And with the holidays this past month, it was high season for charitable giving. The Real Deal took the opportunity to examine the relationship between philanthropy and real estate deal-making. In addition to giving back to the community, the charity circuit is a big part of how power and money work in the city, and many deals are hatched because of relationships formed on nonprofit boards and committees. Check out our stories, Does it pay to give? and The charity web.

Finally, watch out for The Real Deal’s newest publication, Luxury Listings NYC, which is set to debut this month. The bi-monthly magazine is going to feature residential property listings, and will have the largest door-to-door distribution of any magazine in New York City, reaching 100,000 doorsteps. For a complimentary subscription, sign up at

The publication will feature real estate news geared toward the average buyer or renter (not the in-depth industry news you find in TRD), with dedicated regular coverage on what’s happening in each micro-neighborhood in Manhattan. That’s something that’s not being done by the various real estate sections around town, surprisingly, and will make it a valuable resource for readers who want to know what building is rising down the street or the best bargains on the market in their hood. We’re all very excited about the launch.

Enjoy the issue and happy New Year!

  • No one knows when the world will end. Great knows that Manhattan residential market is going good.