Overall, how do you think the real estate market is doing?
One of the things I would like to point out is that the long-term prospects for the city are much better than the short term. I mean, there is no doubt about it that in the short term, we are in for a rough ride. I do think it’s going to be difficult; however, I still believe that, in the long term, people are still making good long-term investments if they buy now or in the next few months. New York City is always going to be a good place to live and people are always going to want to live here.
So do you think that urban areas like New York City will fare better in the long term than suburban neighborhoods and Sunbelt-city-type places?
Yes, but there are so many factors involved that it’s hard to know what’s going to happen everywhere. All real estate is local, and when you are looking at our particular market, it is tied very closely to the financial industry, so that is going to hurt us more than other markets.
You guys are putting out these great maps. Could you tell me a little more about that, and what purpose you want them to serve? It looks like they are very labor-intensive.
All the heavy programming is done overseas, in Romania. Our mapping functions are really very, very data-driven. They are deep in data, and what we really try to do is offer two different types of people different ways of accessing the data. If you are looking at the foreclosure property, and you are more visual, like me, you can use the maps, which I tend to do. But there are also a lot people that are data-driven and prefer to just download the information into Excel spreadsheets. You can also look at toxic sites.
What do you mean?
You can go to the map page on our Web site; you can see just how many active toxic sites there are in the city. It’s a little scary, and people should be aware of it. You can look to see if a property you are looking at is in between water and a toxic site. If it is, you potentially have a problem. If you purchase a property with a toxic site liability somewhere around it, even though the damage was done 40 years ago, doesn’t make any bit of difference. If you own the property, you are liable.
Do you get the information from the E.P.A.?
No. We get it from a public entity called Toxic Targeting, which gets data directly from the government. They have been doing it for about 10 years and are really effective.