It’s pouring rain outside, but in a green room at the “Today” show’s Rockefeller Center studios, the sun is shining in the form of Barbara Corcoran. Cue cards? Check. Coffee with cream and copious amounts of sugar? Check. Almost every Friday, the pixieish real estate queen with the short blonde hair comes here in her shiny, fluorescent suits and delivers her ebullient shtick about what a great time it is to buy a home, recession be damned.
First, there’s the $239,000 property in Indianapolis. Corcoran takes a highlighter and runs it over the catchphrases she’ll use to tout it. Chief among them: Indianapolis is “home to the 2011 Super Bowl.”
Then there’s the $335,000 house in Shakopee, Minn., that’s 3,000 square feet (“feels like 6,000”) and sits “right” on the Minnesota River, with a “very luxurious” living room, and a working fireplace.
“It’s funny,” Corcoran says, taking a swig of coffee. “When I was young, I sat around writing ads for every broker in my firm. Now, years later, I’m still here, still writing ads.”
That’s a pretty good way of putting it. In a world where the line between news and entertainment has become virtually nonexistent, Corcoran, 60, is a talking head whose job is to get people excited about spending their money. Two years ago, the former head of the Corcoran Group became a weekly contributor to the “Today” show, and her job since then has largely been as an on-air purveyor of real estate porn.
When the market was ascendant, Corcoran used booming housing prices as evidence that there was no better purchase than a home. Now the market has tanked and she’s still advising people to buy. The current argument: Don’t miss out on the deal of a lifetime. Like a Jim Cramer of real estate, it’s go, go, go all the time.
Economic forecasters say the prices of residential listings may still drop over the next year as foreclosures flood the market, but not Corcoran. She is a self-described eternal optimist and self-described eternal optimists do not advise you to stockpile your cash and wait for the economic fog to lift. “I already think the market is improving vastly,” Corcoran had said a few weeks earlier, during a visit to her Upper East Side offices. “I think by the fall, people will acknowledge things have changed.”
Of course, she’s said that before.
In 2007, after the bubble began to burst, Matt Lauer said to Corcoran on “Today,” “We’re talking about the worst housing market in generations, or a generation. What happened?”
She replied, “I think the worst is behind us. You should know that, right now, prices are at their lowest point, in my belief.”
Corcoran then urged people to buy, saying there were “good deals” everywhere, and even encouraged those with adjustable rate mortgages to hold off on selling their homes, lest the market rebound, leaving them in the dust.
“Let’s say you could get 5 or 7 percent more a year from now — if I’m right, and I might not be — then it still pays to hold on to the house.”