As we head towards the second quarter of 2003, the world is a very different place than it was at the turn of this new century. Back then, New York City was riding high on the crest of the "New Economy," toasting success in a rocket-fueled, dot-com stock market, making money hand over fist, and sinking multimillions into super-luxe, showpiece apartments in Manhattan's most fashionable neighborhoods.
A lot has changed. The bubble has burst and the economy has sunk into a lingering recession; the echoes of September 11th still resound in our collective consciousness, and the potential of armed conflict in the Middle East looms on the horizon. This confluence of factors made for an unpredictable year in 2002, and for a good deal of hesitance on the part of real estate industry players to make any firm predictions past the end of 2003.
It seems as though the city, the nation - and the world - is in a holding pattern, waiting to see what will happen on Wall Street, in Baghdad, with North Korea, and during the ongoing war against terrorism.
All the post-2001 uncertainly spilled over into the first part of 2002, according to some industry heavy-hitters, though overall, the co-op and condo market remained relatively robust. According to Elizabeth Stribling, president of Manhattan-based brokerage firm Stribling & Associates Ltd., "2002 was a very good year. There was a lot of market activity, and sales volume was up from the year before. The perception was that investing in real estate was safer than investing in the stock market."
Roberta Benzilio, executive vice president at William B. May Company, believes that 2002 "was probably the second-best year in a long time. 2000 was the best year we had on record in over a decade, and after the disaster of 2001, 2002 went very well. There were a lot of people who were new to the market, a lot of first-time buyers."