Publisher’s note

I’m happy to report that in the last few weeks, brokers we’ve talked to say they have started to see the market paralysis break a little, as more people start looking to take advantage of steep price drops on both the sales and rental sides of the market.

Indeed, brokers say that while prices may be lower and incentives laid on thicker, activity has been showing some signs of improvement lately, with increased open house traffic and more contracts being signed (relatively speaking, of course).

Whether these so-called “green shoots,” the in-vogue term for positive economic indicators, are the beginning of a real recovery is anyone’s guess. There are still a lot of economists — like our friend Robert Shiller at Yale — who believe they are tantamount to weeds growing in between the cracks of the sidewalk that will wilt due to a coming increase in unemployment and higher interest rates. Some of them predict that New York prices still have another 40 percent to drop, which seems incredibly drastic to me.

But as we head into summer it’s hard not to get a little giddy about the possibility that the pessimists may be wrong and that the newfound confidence we’re hearing about could continue to grow.

In that vein, this month The Real Deal focused on some of the new life that seems to be coming back into the market.

For one, foreign buyers are slowly starting to purchase property here again, although they are spending less and are more concerned with getting good deals. See page 18 to find out what other factors they are considering before signing on the dotted line.

We also looked at the number of contracts signed and closed in new buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens and ranked the buildings with the most activity during the spring months. While the numbers are still pretty small, they offer a good real-time gauge of what’s happening in the city’s condo market. To see which buildings ranked as the best sellers this spring, see the charts on page 58.

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There are, however, obviously still a lot of players who haven’t quite recalibrated yet.

Perhaps the best example is Michael Shvo, who personified the condo boom better than almost anyone. The once press-hungry marketer is being dogged by creditors and unhappy buyers and is now rarely in the public eye. Read the story on page 50 to find out where he’s gone.

Meanwhile, with the market so far off from where it was just last year, there seem to be more brokers, developers and firms cutting corners these days. That’s why we’ve devoted a package of stories to ethical breaches. While we know that most in New York’s real estate community are standup professionals, there are those out there who seem to be blurring the line — either willingly or because they are strapped for money. For example, there are an increasing number of firms bouncing commission checks to agents and stiffing vendors. To find out more about the bad apples, see the stories starting on page 35.

One other story I’d like to mention is our profile of Suri Kasirer. You may not know her by name, but she is one of the most powerful lobbyists in the city and a major behind-the-scenes player in the world of New York real estate. Her client list includes some of the biggest names in the business, like SL Green and Extell. And she’s definitely someone you want on your radar. To find out why, read the story on page 30.

On a more personal note, I’d like to congratulate our senior deputy editor, Jennifer White Karp, and her husband, Howard, on the birth of their second daughter, Aviva Salome Karp, who was born last month. We are all incredibly excited for them.

Finally, I want to publicly express how honored I was to be named to the New York Observer’s list of 100 most powerful people in real estate last month. I was proud to be in the company of so many legendary real estate figures — people who have literally reshaped the skyline here. I’d like to thank my colleague Jared Kushner for throwing such a wonderful event for all of us at the Four Seasons.

And speaking of proud, I am incredibly proud to report that The Real Deal reached 1.4 million Web site hits last month and that we’ve doubled our Web traffic since September. We also have more than 2,800 followers on Twitter — so you who have signed up can all pat yourselves on the back for embracing a new social and business networking technology that seems to be growing like wildfire out of nowhere. We’ve already started tweeting from real estate events all over the city, so keep following us.