NEW YORK CITY-Brokers likely get called many things in the course of a day, but the results of a new survey have earned them perhaps the most shocking title of all: optimists.

New York City commercial and residential real estate broker confidence in January was at its highest levels of the last eight months, according to the Real Estate Board of New York‘s monthly Broker Confidence Index.

The Broker Confidence Index—tabulated on a scale of zero to ten, with five being neutral—showed an overall confidence level of 8.8, up from 8.55 in December 2012. The spike likely was prompted by several factors, REBNY SVP for research Michael Slattery tells

“Between the election and the bipartisan tax agreement,  some unertantinty has been taken off the table,” he says. “Also, it was decided soon after the election that there wasn’t going to be a debt ceiling fight in Washington. That all created a more positive atmosphere that has people encouraged.”

REBNY’s Broker Confidence Index is the result of survey data from REBNY’s residential and commercial brokerage division members. The survey has been conducted monthly since June 2012.The overall Broker Confidence Index gauges broker perceptions of the current market as well as the market six months from now. In addition to the overall index, REBNY also surveys confidence in the residential and commercial markets individually.

The Commercial Real Estate Market Overall Confidence Index for January 2013 saw a greater month-to-month increase than the Residential Real Estate Market Overall Confidence Index. The index was 8.8 in January 2013, compared to 7.67 in December 2012. Respondents’ confidence about the future was equally positive, registering over a one-point-increase in January 2013, to 8.97, over December 2012.

The numbers might have been even higher were it not for some weak spots, Slattery notes. “Brokers weren’t as optimistic on leasing. There was some soft optimism there.” The REBNY analyst put a positive spin on this information too. “It shows they’re answering honestly, and it is possible to have a concern but still be generally optimistic.”

The Residential Real Estate Market Overall Confidence Index was 8.79 for January 2013, rising from the 8.57 confidence index shown in December 2012. This increase in the Residential Overall Confidence Index can be attributed to the continuing improvement in the housing market, according to REBNY. Last year residential sales volume in New York City exceeded $30 billion, which was the highest since 2008.

“This month’s survey shows that brokers’ overall confidence in the current market continues to improve,” Slattery says in the announcement. “These numbers are the highest we’ve seen over the last eight months that the survey has been conducted. Based on the survey results, brokers see this positive trend continuing over the next six months.” 

Survey data has been collected monthly from residential and commercial brokerage division members via anonymous online surveys administered by REBNY. A full copy of the REBNY Broker Confidence Index can be found here.