Brokers battle with Occupy Wall Street for downtown market
After fighting for a decade to resuscitate the real estate market in Lower Manhattan, brokers face a new obstacle: Occupy Wall Street.
Real estate agents say they not only have to promise buyers the area is safe from another terrorist attack, but they also have to escort potential renters through a maze of barricades, screaming protesters and unsightly portable toilets.
“A client asked me, ‘What is this all about?’” said broker Gea Elika at Elika Associates. “I wish I knew.”
Buyers are often bothered by the hubbub at Zuccotti Park, another broker said.
“The clients are definitely turned off by the idea of walking through a protest to look at apartments,” Bethany Walsh, the managing director of Prime New York, said.
She’s learned to slip past the protest to reach a Greenwich Street property with minimal exposure, and she directs her clients to do the same.
“It’s a concern for a lot of clients,” she said. “They ask when is the best time to go down there, how long will it be there.”
With no end in sight, Walsh, who said she supports the group’s right to protest, downplays the movement.
“I just say it’s not really that big of a deal,” she said.