The Optimists

Liz Giordano
Health-care CEO
Giordano owns in the Hamptons, works close to the city, and wants a condo in Manhattan. She just toured and liked this two-bedroom.

Why buy now?
I truly am the optimist. I believe the best investment you can make is real estate as long as [it’s for the] long term. I was fortunate: I got some money out of the stock market before everything went south, and I’m moving whatever resources I have to real estate. Some people say, ‘You’re crazy,’ but I have good credit, I’ve managed to save a significant amount—I might be able to do it all-cash.

Do you own a place?
I own a house in the Hamptons. If I buy a condo in the city, it’ll give me a place to stay, and if at some point I wasn’t able to carry it, I’ll be able to rent it out. It’s a win-win.

Barbara Slaska
Lives in Chappaqua and in a Murray Hill rental, and is looking at pieds-à-terre in the area around her current apartment.

You’re bucking the tide—does that worry you at all?
If I wait ten years before I sell it, I’m sure I’ll be fine. [Friends and family] are telling me to wait until summer, to see where the economy is going, but interest rates are, historically, at their lowest. What else can we ask for? Prices may go lower but interest rates higher.

And have you found a place?
We’ve put out four offers. I’m taking my time—I’m in no rush.

But do you like what you see?
There are many good choices right now … I think after the summer, that’ll change. That’s my deadline.

Derek Mason and Eric Chen
Radiologist and Software Designer
Sold their own apartments months ago and want a two-bedroom downtown. They seriously considered this place before bidding elsewhere.

What makes you want to take the leap right now?
D.M.: We’ve been looking for some time and didn’t find anything. Most apartments coming on now still have unrealistic prices. But there are a number that came on, say, last summer, and people are really motivated to sell.

Any trepidation?
E.C.: A little. We had bid on another apartment…
D.M.: Around the time we were negotiating, it was decided that St. Vincent’s would be allowed to build a nineteen-story hospital, which will block the view. It was between that and another in the East Village, and the one in the East Village just reduced the price by $100,000. We’re trying for that.

Maria Giannobile
Product Manager
Owns in New Jersey and is looking at one-bedrooms and studios (including this one) in the financial district for investment.

Are people surprised you’re choosing to do this now?
Not at all. I think people are saying, ‘Wow.’ They’re impressed, and a little in awe. I’m in a situation—knock wood—where I’m able to take advantage of the great market and all it has to offer, especially new construction. I’m able to walk into buildings and apartments that maybe a year ago I couldn’t even touch. It’s not reckless risk.

You hear how no one’s buying right now…
The ones who are have been diligent and thoughtful with their finances— that puts them in a good spot. There are lots of people like me.

Nathan Serphos
Fashion Executive
Is giving up his rent-stabilized Upper East Side apartment to buy one a block away.

Why didn’t you buy a year or two ago?
The prices were getting way too high. I was waiting for the market to correct. You just look at all the cycles, and at some point you know it will happen. I was getting anxious, though, because prices kept going up. I was jealous of the Wall Street types who were getting the million-plus bonuses just jumping in and buying whatever they wanted. When the Lehman thing happened, I said, Wow, this might be my opportunity.

Having just bought, are you nervous?
I have to tell you—I’m petrified, to be honest. I had dinner with friends and I think I had an anxiety attack. Today, we locked in the price, and my mortgage broker went through all the fees….

So why do it now?
I feel like it’s a grown- up thing to do. I don’t need to move— I have a rent-stabilized place. But I want a new kitchen, a new bathroom, something that’s mine.

Eamonn Johnston
Technology Consultant
The British expat wants a convertible two-bedroom downtown or in Brooklyn.

You already own a London flat. Why buy one here?
I’ve been relocated by my company for two years. I don’t want to be paying rent. It’s a practical option.

What are you looking for?
My terminology is off, but I need a convertible two with reasonable space. And it has to be rentable.

Are you one of those foreign buyers we keep hearing will save our real-estate market?
Yeah, I’m not sure about that. With the conversations I’ve had, it may be difficult to get financing here. I might have to get a mortgage in the U.K.

How’s the market back there?
Not great. I have very good tenants.

The Optimists