No matter what happens with the size of bonuses or the tax breaks, sellers should remain cautious. Those who are clinging to the possibility of bonuses, he said, may want to take into account that “the bonus thing is not anything like it was, because so much of it is as restricted stock options versus cash. Yet everyone still sees it as a panacea.” In other words, in this market and this economy, erstwhile panaceas are not what they may seem. And as one adage suggests, there is nothing louder than the sound of a halo crashing down from the head of an erstwhile angel.

In real estate, this is the season to obsess about the bonus season. Wall Street bonuses, in the pre-housing-crash years, were a major economic engine driving sales in the city from January through the spring. They can be a broker’s bread and butter — brioche with brie, really, when you’re talking about multimillion-dollar bonuses and multimillion-dollar apartments.But since the economy melted down, bonuses have been up, down and spinning all around. Anticipation has had brokerages and developers panting one minute and totally depressed the next. And the speculation this year over bonuses has been unusually intense; the question of Congress’s extending or eliminating Bush-era tax breaks that have been in place for much of the last decade has only fueled conjecture. Will bonus payouts come early this year so the recipients can avoid potential tax increases?
By Sarah Kershaw, Dec. 9, 2010 NYT

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