Property Grunt

Monday, February 28, 2005

Its snowing but real estate keeps on going

There is a noreaster blowing through the east coast and has proceeded to pound the Manhattan and the tri state area. Weather plays a quirky roles in real estate.

Winter time is when real esate usally slows down particuarly for rentals due to the fact peopel's desire to walk around in the cold begins to wane considerable. The holidays also puts a huge crimp in demand since people are occupied with buying gifts and avoiding inlaws.

Bad weather however has no affect on sales and I say this from experience. When the first blizzard carpet bombed Manhattan the assumption was that no one would show up for the open houses. WRONG! Buyers stampeded to anything that had a sign in sheet. The market stops for nothing.

Although it is extremely aggravating the best time to look at homes is probably during the winter for the following reasons.

1. You are able to see how well the apartment holds up under harsh conditions. If the apartment has poor insulation in the windows or is not well heated it will become quite apparent when it is 30 below. You can also see how well maintained the building is. If it snows, does the management company have the sidewalk shoveled and salted immediately? I know a doorman at one building who watches the news and if he hears anything about snow or rain he puts out the rubber mats in the lobby because he knows what mess it will make without them and how dangerous it will be for tenants because the floors are marble.

2. You have better chances in getting a better deal in the winter if the owners mistimed putting it on the market and it has attracted very few qualified buyers and if the home is a fixer upper requiring repairs that can easily done by the buyer.

3. Out of town buyers have a harder time getting into Manhattan allowing more opportunity for local buyers.

If you decide to stalk open houses during the winter you should do the following.

1. Figure out a plan of attack. Decide what areas look at whether it is Murray Hill or the West Village and decide on how many open houses you will attend.

2. Organize the times and locations and check on the status of the open houses by contacting brokers representing the homes. If there is a huge snowstorm there is a probablity some brokers will cancel their open houses. All brokers have cell phones so get their contact info so you will be able to get real time answers. If you have a broker representing you they should be fufilling these duties for you. If they are not, tell them to get with the program or drop them.

3. Think airport. I am always at least two hours early for a flight because I have to taken in consideration of the check in and security procedures that eat up alot of time and it is better to be early than late. The same philosophy applies to open houses. You want to leave early because the city could be completely congested or roads are closed for construction and you could be delayed. On the weekends certain subway lines are closed for repairs. NY1's website has a weather that is updated every ten minutes so you can check on the conditions of the weather and the MTA's website has service advisort section that informs riders of any changes in the subway system. It may take longer to go through other open houses than others because of building policy. In one building I work in, buyers have to wait in the lobby for a broker to escort them. You also may take more time examing the apartment especially if it is one of interest to you. Of course you can always come back but the market is so hot that it is not uncommon for apartments to get snatched up the day of the open houses.

4. Keep the showsheets and write down important notes like whether the apartment gets good light or what the building is like.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Get a grip

Today a broker almost crushed my hand as he pressed his thumb down really hard into the bone of the hand. I do a lot of handshaking and most of the itme its normal grasp and shake but you get these jerks who do an impersonation of a vise grip. I thought one doorman gave me arthritis when he mashed my knuckles into paste. I had one broker who was quite passive aggressive and expressed it in his handshake and I responded in kind and made a comment about his grip he made a joke about being strong as bull.

What I hate about these masticaters of metacarpals is that you can't really scream at them since a buyer is present and you don't want to make a scene, I wonder if you could defend yourself against somone for squeezing your hand too tightly?

What I hate are brokers who pick their nose with their hands and then put it out for a shake. Use a tissue. I have seen that happen many a time and I usally put on my gloves.

Its snowing like a bastard and I don't want to go out tomorrow. I have three appointments tomorrow, maybe more. Brings back bad memories of my rental days. That's another story.

Silver Bullet to Craigslist Dillema?

According to merc1985

NYS RE laws already require disclosure. You must put company name and person's name in any advertising of property.

I believe what merc1985 is referring to is this which is the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE LICENSE LAW OFFICIALS (ARELLO) ELECTRONIC MARKETING - INTERNET POLICY

"Licensee Disclosure" means advertising or messaging that contains the following information:

the licensee name,
the name of the firm with which the licensee is affiliated as that firm's name is registered with the regulatory agency of the jurisdiction(s) that licensed it to do business (abbreviations not permitted)
the city and state/province in which the licensee's office is located, and
the states/provinces in which the licensee holds a real estate license.

However I am confused whether these are laws or just suggestions due to this:

These ARELLO Best Practices Internet Guidelines are intended only for educational purposes for member jurisdictions and licensees. Licensees advertising on the Internet should seek competent legal advice as to whether their web sites comply with local, state and national regulations.

However if these are laws rather than just suggestions then craigslist just has to enforce these regulations therefore eliminating any need for a pay system since agents will be made liable for their advertising.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Judd was the second guy to leave American Idol. Obviously some of us forgot to vote. He's a great guy and I feel this will not be the last we see of him.

A message to the producers. That was very uncool how you broke the news to Judd. I know you want to create excitement but what you did was just not right.

Potential solution to craigslist wars?

Acoording to blogger France Flynn Thorsen of the Realtygram Blogger, the Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commisson has issued a strict set of guidelines regarding internet advertising. The Grunt sees this as a possible solution regarding the craigslist wars. If a similar set of measures are passed in New York State, by law brokers would have to give disclosure of who they are.

Would this happen in NYS? The grunt is unsure of that. Brokers are a very powerful force in this state especially in the city so anything that could cramp their style would never see the light of day.

James Bond getting sued

According to this article a downstairs neighbor is suing Sean Connery for $30 million dollars for being a bully.

Dr. Burton Sultan, an ophthalmologist, lives with his wife and daughters on the lower four floors of a six-story Tudor townhouse, built in 1869, on Manhattan's East Side. Connery and his wife live on the top two floors.

Sounds like a nice place.

Court papers claims the Connerys' renovations, which began in September 2001, are a source of constant noise, foul fumes, water leaks and a rat infestation. The lawsuit claims damage to the Sultans' home extended to their collection of Victorian and early 20th century wicker furniture.

I am not sure if this place is either a co-op or a condo but for either places you need to get approval from the board or the condo association to do work on the apartment. The co-ops I know demand architecture plans and a licensed contractor to do the work and can only commence when the board or co-op association gives the greenlight.

The lawsuit also claims the famous upstairs neighbor is harassing the Sultans "by playing loud music at all hours and stomping about." On April 7, 2002, one of the Sultans' daughters knocked on Connery's door and requested quiet. "Connery's appearance and behavior was that of a rude, foul-mouthed, fat old man," court papers say. "Cursing and otherwise using indecent language Connery demeaned Marla's father, refused to lower the noise and slammed the door in her face."

This not unusual. From the Grunt's experience knocking on a door and asking someone to quiet down is tantamount to telling them to have sexual relations with their mother. It is a declaration of war.

It sounds like they have a solid case.

The court papers say the Connerys also owe $15,747 in maintenance and utility payments — another ploy "to harass the Sultans into leaving their home."

The lawsuit includes a letter, purportedly from the Connerys' lawyer, Robert P. Lynn Jr., stating: "I think if we tie him up in several lawsuits, hopefully this will either permanently subdue him or drive him out of the building."

However Connery's lawyer is quite correct that lawsuits can be used as an effective weapon. Lawsuits are effective weapons not because of the judgements because they force the other party to expend resources in dealing with the lawsuit. It is basically a war of attrition and the victor is the one who has the most money and endurance. Remember, lawyers charge by the hour unless they make a deal with their client.

Will this get resolved quickly? This entry should answer your question. If it takes over two years to get a dead beat tenant out of a building, it's going to probably take longer for Sultan to resolve this

I remember a case involving Joe Weider who was being sued by one of his employees who was a famous body builder. Joe would employ body builders as labor and as models for his magazines. However he never paid them for their model work and he never had them sign disclaimers. This body builder was very popular and sued Weider for a large amount of money. Now this man was in the right, morally and legally. But Weider's lawyers went at him tooth and nail and even though the body builder stood to make millions he took a settlement of several hunder thousand dollars because he was tired of dealing with lawyers and going to court. Although Sultan is a doctor who probably does very well, Connery has alot of dough and power behind him so Sultan could end up as the one legged man in an ass kicking contest. However the publicity doesn't really help Connery.

Unfortunately some celebrities neighbors can be trouble and are often rejected by boards so celebrities usally opt for condos since they need no board approval and can do what they want without the scrutiny of the board.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Random thoughts on a Sunday

Tomorrow is a holiday. It couldn't have come sooner. An agent wants to see an exclusive of mine tomorrow. I don't think so. I am too tired and annoyed with everyone.

I had three appointments in the listing and the reaction was blase. The first appointment was a buyer who put in an offer but was too low and held off going any further b/c the BIC told him he would just piss off the seller.

What really pissed me off was that the doorman was telling everyone there was an open house. People kept knocking on the door wanting to come in. Its one of those situations where you want to show the apartment but the owner only approved a appointment only showings but you need to show the apartment but if the owner finds out that there wasn't an official open house they will get angry with you and the BIC will blame you.

A broker showed up wth his buyers begging to see the place, I let them in since it was the last appointment of the day was already in. I met up with the BIC at another building where that broker showed up with his buyers. It turned out this broker was a complete dickhead. Previously he had left messages to see a listing and I responded to him but he ignored my calls and threatened to call our manager to complain that we did not contact him. When I last spoke to him on the phone he was quite rude to me. To add insult to injury he was late and messed up the BIC's schedule. If I had known who he was I would have told to go to hell. I plan on doing an entry on jerk off brokers because there are alot of them.

On a lighter note the Grunt alerted curbed of a colleague of the Grunt's who is a semifinalist in American Idol. Lockhart did an excellent entry on Judd Harris.

So please vote for him tomorrow. He's a really good guy and very talented.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


In my previous entry I described the open house process and how it is normally conducted. When an open house is good they are amazing. When they are bad they are a monstrosity.

Rage of the Rabid Harpy and the Ass Monkey

It was at the end of one open house that the Grunt was holding that a buyer and her wretch of a companion ambushed the Grunt. Previously the Grunt informed the buyer, via phone, of the hours of the open house, which was 11am-12: 30pm, which the buyer understood. It was important for the Grunt end the open house at 12:30 because at 1pm there was another open house in a building two blocks away which required his presence because the building required two brokers. The Grunt was concerned at around 12:20 and contacted the buyer who assured the Grunt she would be there on time. At 12:45 there was no buyer and the Grunt got a call from the B.I.C (Broker In Charge) that he was needed at the new location ASAP. The Grunt complied and while the Grunt was shutting down he got a call from the buyer telling him she was in building but the Grunt attempted to explain to the buyer of the situation but she hung up.

Now as I was closing the door on apartment I was met by a customer and informed that the open house was closed but I would be more than happy to show her the apartment at a later time. She complied and as I was about to get her contact info the late buyer showed up with a male companion.

When I informed them of the situation the buyer turned into a rabid harpy cursing me blaming me for tardiness that it was completely ridiculous that I could not show the apartment. Her companion transformed into a jumping ass monkey joined yelling at me that I sucked as an agent and that while they were wasting time arguing. My initial urge was take off and leave them here. But to leave two angry and highly unstable people in a building without supervision was a recipe for trouble and if the situation escalated the listing could have been lost and the Grunt could have been banned from the building. The B.I.C would not have been happy. I attempted to contact the B.I.C but only got his voicemail; the other customer was long gone not wishing to be an innocent bystander in the melee.

At one point I told them I did not feel comfortable bringing them into the apartment because of the way they were acting which only agitated them further. I got a call from the B.I.C and explained the situation to him. He said to go ahead and show the place. I watched them closely in case they damaged anything and then as soon as they left the apartment I ran to the other open house.

Guess who showed up? The rabid harpy and her ass monkey. The last thing I wanted was another scene so I uncled them and played nice and apologetic with them. The ass monkey began trying to tell me how to do my job and that I had to accommodate their needs. I restrained myself in ripping him a new one and told him I understood however the circumstances did not allow me that option since they were late. Murphy’s law was in full affect because I ran into them in the elevator again before they were leaving.

The worst fubar I have seen to date was three weeks ago. I was holding an open house at the previous building where I had the second encounter with the ass monkey and the rabid harpy. Now this place does not suffer fools. They have a very strict rule of allowing 3 open houses a Sunday. NO EXCEPTIONS. Just to make sure no one plays any games the board president spends the Sunday observing the open houses.

I had just escorted a party to the apartment and was getting off the elevator when I was greeted by a riotous crowd of angry visitors who were screaming at the broker who was screaming at the doorman who was frantically calling anyone to help him out. According to the doorman the broker said she was coming in to do a walk through not an open house, the broker claimed she called in advance and that she was approved to do an open house. It was a chaotic scene as the broker smuggled people to the open house while the rest of the building staff came on the scene to control the situation.

Then the board president walked and upon being informed of the situation he screamed “This is bulls**t.” I think the funniest scene was when one of the building staff informed the president that people were going up to the illegal open house. The board president bellowed why they were paying him to take care of these problems, the doorman closed his eyes and began waving his arms sending the universal signal of not my problem.

It got better when the broker in question proceeded to get an argument with the board president. Now getting to an argument with the doorman is dumb but getting into an argument with the board president is suicidal. The board president could not only have shut down the open house but he could have barred the broker from ever coming in. Yes. Board presidents have that authority.

The broker was lucky because she was able to do another open house and was not barred from the building. Secretly I was wishing that would happen because than the seller would have to fire the broker and I would come in as the white knight.

Tomorrow morning I have a showing and three open houses back to back. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


In the classic anime Robotech: The Macross Saga aka Macross the plot centers on a ship called the SDF 1 which is the acronym for Super Dimensional Fortress 1 which is being hunted by the Zentradei. However no matter how many times the Zentradei corner the SDF 1, they are completely destroyed by the SDF 1's main gun which are two pillars that generates and project an obscene amount of destructive energy that reduces everything in its path to ashes.

Open houses are the main gun of the real estate agent for the following reasons.

1. It is a controlled environment where the agent can show their exclusive listing.

2. Presents an opportunity to consolidate as many buyers as possible in one area, which is a more efficient use of time in comparison to making multiple appointments.

3. It also gives the opportunity for the broker to connect and establish a relationship with buyers. On the condition they are not represented by another broker.

The mechanics of an open house

Open houses to the public are usually held Sundays allowing buyers and brokers the best opportunity to view the property. Can brokers hold open houses on any other days? That depends on what type of open house and whether the building and seller will allow it. It is not uncommon to have broker open houses where other brokers invited are to preview an apartment. Usually they are held during lunchtime and a mortgage company will provide free food for the brokers. When it comes to broker open houses Grunt could care less where the apartment is as long there is a free lunch.

Marketing plays a key role in open houses since it needs to be advertised in order for it to be a success. In the Grunt's home base, New York Times ads are put out en masse and the company's website places an open house alert on the broker's web ad. Open houses however can be advertised through blast emails, craigslist and word of mouth.

The next layer of stratification is the seller. The seller needs to understand that in order for the apartment to sell and to take advantage of the market it needs to be shown as much as possible. The Grunt knows many a broker who are handicapped from doing open houses by the seller. What are their reasons? It ranges from the fact that they sellers have no desire to expose their property to a large crowd of people or they maybe a tenant renting the apartment and has the right to bar the open house.

The last layer is the building. They are the ones who either allow or bar open houses. If the building's a coop the board dictates the rules however the enforcement of these rules is either the super, doorman or property management's responsibility. The Grunt has a rental listing in a condo building but it is barred from doing any open houses according to the condo association. The Grunt found away around the situation by putting an ad for an open house by appointment. Which required potential clients to call the Grunt in advance to make an appointment to show which was allowed by the building. That almost blew up in the Grunt's face when an error occurred in the ad indicating it was just an open house and presented the address of the building. Thank you marketing for that being so helpful. May you all catch a raging case of anal fungus.

Steps culminating to an open house:

1. Broker proposes a day and time that is approved by seller and the building.
2. Broker initiates marketing by sending ads to publications with high traffic numbers and other media outlets.
3. Armed with show sheets, sign in sheet and if they are lucky food provided by a mortgage broker, they set up shop in the apartment awaiting buyers and brokers to arrive.
4. Upon the arrival of buyers, the broker will ask them to sign in and provide contact information and indicate if they are working with a broker.
5. Broker will answer any questions and sell the apartment to buyers.
6. Upon conclusion of the open house, broker will close up shop and report to seller about the progress and whether any offers were made. With the sign in sheet, the broker will contact buyers who have no representation and will make them their buyers. THIS IS PERFECTLY LEGAL BECAUSE THERE IS A DISCLAIMER ON THE SHOW SHEET THAT STATES THAT BY SIGNING THEIR NAME THE BUYER IS AUTHORIZING THE BROKER TO CONTACT THEM.

In my next entry I will describe what can go wrong at an open house.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Craigslist Wars: Update from the front

The Grunt heard on the underground real estate wire that a very well known rental company has a developed a new dump feature on their website allowing agents to dump an unknown number of ads on craigslist while bypassing the email activation function. Which means the agent can carpet bomb craigslist with ads at will while avoiding craigslist protocols. If an agent was creative enough they could monopolize the craigslist boards.

At this point the Grunt is unable to confirm the existence of this feature however if it does exist this is a spammers dream come true. There are a multitude of scenarios where this could be abused. If the source code of the dump feature is released it could be retooled to spam message boards and acquire free email addresses from yahoo and hotmail bypassing the anti spam protocol that is required when creating one. Of course this is all speculation on the Grunt's part so who knows.

The irony of the situation is that the company that has implemented this feature will in the near future force their agents go cold turkey from craigslist once the payment option has been initiated.

Grunt will keep you all posted.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Justice is Served

They caught them. Rest in peace Nicole.

Nabbed in Nicole slay