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Publisher's note.

If there were such a thing as a real estate superpower, New York City would be it. The city has held its own when it comes to residential real estate values and has shown the ability to largely withstand the considerable damage happening on the national level.

The latest figures from a leading home price index show that prices across the country are down a record 12.7 percent from the past year. And price declines could nearly double, to 20 percent by 2009, according to a report by the PMI Group.

Price drops of that magnitude are sobering, especially when one considers that home prices fell by 30 percent during the Great Depression.

But our vibrant city continues to chug along. Although it is not exactly business as usual here, it's still comparatively impressive.

More than a third of the nation's 51 million households are expected to have mortgages that exceed their home's value due to dropping prices, according to a recent study, but that's certainly not the case in New York.

Ironically, those difficult co-op boards, with their tough financial requirements that everyone complains about, have actually helped the city. Co-ops outweigh condos by three to one in Manhattan. By demanding high liquidity and forbidding risky mortgages for buyers, co-ops appear to have safeguarded themselves from the mistakes made by the mortgage and banking industries that now find themselves in so much turmoil.

Not that we are totally immune. For example, in the suburbs and outer boroughs, we are seeing more instances of short sales, which happen when homes are sold for less than the balance owed on the mortgage loan, though this is still happening at a lower rate than in the U.S. as a whole. See our story on page 82, part of our report on brokering in an uncertain market.

In this issue, as we do every May, we take a look at how the top residential brokerage firms are doing, to find out who's on top in revenues, listings, agents and more. This year, we increased our list to the top 15 firms, since there are just too many good firms to fit within the top 10 or 12 lists we've done in the past.

The top firms spread is the only annual feature package we do, and it's always a well-read item. Soon after the list is published, our editorial staff hears praise from the people included in the list and gets harangued by those who weren't, including angry calls from communication directors and publicists. If you have a comment, e-mail us at letters@therealdeal.com.

Sometimes an interesting story gets overlooked, especially if the subject is reluctant to talk about herself personally. This is the case with one of New York's top brokers, Paula Del Nunzio, the No. 1 townhouse broker in the city. She holds the record for the most expensive townhouse ever sold in the city, at $53 million. We sat down with her for her first-ever interview and found she was more eager to talk about a new, possibly record-setting listing she has on the market with the Sloane mansion, listed for $64 million.

We started The Real Deal with the goal of providing accurate and important information to educate our readership. This month, we examine the state of real estate education itself with a special package starting on page 99. Often in a slower market, people go back to school to get a leg up in their profession. We take a look at the different programs available as well as the in-house training that brokerages offer. You'll want to study up on what this report has to say.

Enjoy the issue,

Amir Korangy
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Publication:The Real Deal
Date:May 1, 2008
Words:616
Previous Article:New terrain forces brokers to adjust.
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