Property Grunt

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Here we go again

It is waay past midnight and I am channel surfing on late night television watching reruns of Reno 911, Family Guy and the third Best of the Best film. In 24 hours I will be manning a series of open houses. It will be there where I will meet the legions of disgruntled and disheartened buyers who have been blackmailed by this overpriced market.

Trapped in their bubble cages they will enter these apartments like the cast of the Great Escape in search of a way out. They will look at the showsheets as if it is some sort of cryptic treasure map. But like a bunch of junior high school kids playing a doomed game of dungeons and dragons they will find they have neither the hit points or the plus ten ax to slay the dragon. Then they leave dirtied with the stench of their own monetary impotence made evident by the fact they can't even afford the maintainence.

Its painful to watch as they come in with the fragrance of hope in their eyes which is blasted by the fart of reality. And they look at me as if I was the one who cut the cheese. It isn't me. It's the market who laid this egg.

So for the next 24 hours I am going to forget I am an agent and get on with my life. I am going to act like Sunday doesn't exist. And then I will be smacked awake with the realization that I have an open house to go to.

That is one thing I miss about the 9-5. The weekends.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Predicting the Future

Recently readers were writing about being priced out of the market of Westchester which the Grunt addressed in these two entries, the burbs and reader's comments. Now Motoko Rich has broken the story in the New York Times of how people are priced out of their market despite amassing a ton of appreciation for their homes. It is a good article and there is a small bit of comfort to know that alot of us are in the same boat.

I would also like take this moment to get reader feedback on the suburban market of New York particularly with Westhchester and Putnam Valley. If you have any questions, comments or any experiences you would like discuss feel free to email me at

And the Oscar goes too...

And 2005 Inman Award winner is Curbed.

The Grunt would like to extend his congratulations to Lockhart and his crew. Curbed has proven to be the most contemporary of its peers and certainly deserve this accolade. I was quite honored that the Property Grunt was in the company of my colleagues including Brownstoner and the New York Times. And there is always next year.

This nomination was quite a surprise and as I have stated in previous entry it served as more motivation for me to be a better Grunt.

Reader's comments

Thanks for the quick response! This has been a hellish time to be looking - we're not expecting kids but we figure why not buy a home and get the tax breaks before it becomes a desperate "we're having a baby and need a house" thing.

We've already noticed that in some of the higher priced areas, there is less bidding above asking and that homes are staying on the market a bit longer. At some point, people seemed to start saying "do I really want to buy a house for 750Gs that needs everything redone and that will see me owing 5-6Gs a month in payments?" With the property taxes around here, mortgage payments aren't even the worst of it!

I think we will keep abreast of developments, keep looking and if something great comes along, pounce. But otherwise, I'd love to ride it out a bit and see the bubble burst, so to speak. I hope you're right Grunt!

People are starting to become more aware of the risks they are taking and stepping back to see if they can really afford to take such huge risks. I have noticed that the high priced inventory is not moving as fast as used to in Manhattan. From what you have described the burbs are no different.

Actually I hope I am wrong. If I am right the s**t won't the fan. It will be the whole damn cesspool.

We're also looking to buy, but I refuse to pay over half a million dollars for a ramshackle bungalow.

Not only does the bubble have to pop, think about the fact that a lot of the people who are buying homes are doing so foolishly. They get interest-only, adjustable, no money down deals, but after a few years, their payments will go up, and they won't be able to afford it. After all, housing prices have gone up from 35-150%, but payroll has stayed almost level.

I'm waiting for the plague of foreclosures that's bound to come. People (or banks) are going to be selling cheap.

You have the right idea amigo. The ideal situation is to snatch some stressed properties from a bank that is jonesing for a cash infusion. However snagging a foreclosure is not as easy as it sounds and requires just as much work and even more than buying a home. I will touch upon that on a later date. There are some that argue that the mortgage industry is prolonging the bubble with their funky loans. Regardless, the end result is that alot of people are going to be very unhappy.

C, where are you looking? I think "ramshackle bungalow" is too NICE a comment about some of stuff we've been seeing - ha! At least in Westchestere, the prices are anywhere between 550 and 750 for a 1400 square foot dump, some of the work that needs to be done seems to reach into the 6 figure range - it's so ridiculous.

I am also expecting some foreclosures, or at least a drop in asking prices (which has already been happening in some instances, where the aforementioned dump sits for months without offers and the seller is forced to drop the price). I will not take out anything but a 30 year - I am buying a home, not making an investment, and I want equity and stability!

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we're doing the right thing by waiting - I would hate to rent forever!

I am unsure about your financial situation so I can't really comment whether the 30 year is a good idea or not however I will say that you have the proper strategy in mind for Westchester.

June sales rising, but prices falling -- what's up with that grunt?

I am assuming you read the NYT . I don't know what is up. All I know is that we are definitely due for a correction.

Good people, I know we are all whipped in a lather over this market. I am just as concerned as you all are. I work in this industry and I still rent. The best piece of advice I can give is this, keep a cool head, do not get emotional and make the effort to check your finances and budget yourselves so you do not end up kneecapping yourselves. I know. Its really f**ked up out there. But the worst thing you can do is panic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The burbs

Grunt, what would your advice me to a first time buyer looking for a home in the NYC suburbs? We're not flippers, just want a house. Should we hold on a bit longer? I hate the idea that a starter home should be 650-700Gs but live with the fear that prices will just keep rising (even though I know rationally that it can't go on forever)

Ahh the burbs. The last bastion of peace and quiet for adults and the last place any high school kid wants to be on a Saturday night. As this reader has mentioned the suburbs have been hit with bubble mania as people are coming in droves to get a bigger bang for their buck.

Although my primary focus has been Manhattan and I am very aware of that there has been a ton of appreciation in Westchester including as far Putnam Valley. And because of low interest rates many homeowners are simply refinancing and the few that are selling are asking for insane prices for their homes, which have resulted in huge lack of inventory especially in the more popular areas of Westchester with strong school systems and a ton of unending demand. Sound familiar?

Will prices simply stay in one place or drop it like it’s hot? Should a buyer just go for it? I don’t know.

What I will say the following when it comes to the suburbs.

1. Look for a good location that suits your needs e.g. school district, convenience to public transportation.

2. Whatever action you decide whether it is to buy or wait you should the examine pros and cons of these actions. For instance I know of many buyers who are expecting children. Therefore living in a one-bedroom apartment is not an option since they require more room. But if you pull the trigger can you afford the mortgage payments that will no doubt be making you wake up in a cold sweat every night? Its going to suck but you need to do your numbers.

Yes. I know. It’s pretty much more of the same. But you have to take a very close look at not only your finances but also your mental and emotional state of what you are willing to deal with.

On a side note the Grunt recently proclaimed that the record sale of homes in June was another indication of the imminent correction. I would also add that the rapid rate of sales being closed is also indicative of the current state of mind of personnel in the real estate industry. From real estate brokers, mortgage broker, lawyers to title companies, last June’s record sales just show how concerned they are about the looming correction and they are doing everything in their power to tie loose ends. This is akin to an after Christmas sale when the stores need to clear out their inventory before for the spring.

Bottomline, people know the party is about to end so they are heading to the open bar for one last blowout. So Grunt still stresses that people treat real estate like a night at Scores. Look but don’t touch. But if you find a deal that makes sense well then go for it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cult of Kiyosaki

It seems that Robert Kiyosaki has finally jumped on the bubble bandwagon. On his rich dad website he speaks of the greatest bubble in history which was further confirmed by an article in the Economist that he actually read himself. Wow. He reads the Economist. That must mean he is a freaking genius.

Kiyosaki also enlightened his fast trackers with his brilliant concepts including his Greater fool theory

In the world of investing, there is what is known as The Greater Fool Strategy of Investing. When someone buys a property to flip, or a share of stock to sell at a higher price, that is the Greater Fool Strategy in Action. In simpler terms, a person buys a property or a share of stock not to own but in the hopes that there is a fool greater than them. The problem is, when the bust comes, and it will come, many people who were buying for a fool greater than them, may find out that they were the last fool in line.

This is absolutely eye opening. My god. I mean what other ingenious nuggets will he crap out next? Will his next big idea be a circular device that attaches itself to cars allowing them to move? Or maybe his next big idea will be combining peanut butter with chocolate?

Kiyosaki you dumbass, that fool strategy that you have discovered is called Irrational Exuberance, which was a subject of the book by Robert Schiller. But of course this is Kiyosaki’s interpretation of Irrational Exuberance, which is a lot better. Just like Pat Boone’s black leather interpretation of rock and roll cover songs was better than the originals. NOT!

The funny thing is that Kiyosaki is teaching a fool’s curriculum. Anyone who has just taken their real-estate license examination will tell you that this guy is presenting the bare minimum about real estate mixed with a little new age chicken blood for dramatic effect.

Apparently it has been working because he landed himself on one of the most prestigious financial shows on cable tv.

On Friday, June 23rd 2005, I was on Your World with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Network. He asked me what I recommended when it came to investing in real estate. I replied, “If you’re new to real estate investing, this is not the time to get into the game.” Unfortunately, many people are in the market late and not only have paid too much for their homes, they are over-leveraged.

Yeah. Thanks to you, you idiot. You’re one who pushed the real estate investing onto the masses like a sick parent pushing their underage son into Neverland Ranch. I am not blaming Kiyosaki for the bubble. That would be giving him too much credit. However he has benefited from the irrational exuberance of others and has not made the effort to stem the tide of ignorant investors drunk on his roofie elixir of wealth he has created.

I cannot believe that Neil Cavuto was actually fooled into getting this f**tard on his show. He has to tell his bookers to stop being so gullible. Even Fox News has standards.

The Economist article went on to say, “42% of all first time buyers and 25% of all buyers made no down-payment on their home purchase last year.” That is what I call over-leveraged. They bought late in the cycle, probably paid too much, and have signed their lives away on the dotted line. I am concerned for these people.

Yeah you’re concerned. You’re concerned that these people are going to come to your house, kick your monkey ass and demand their money back for the education, and I use the word education lightly, that you sold them. You should have been concerned for them when you first starting proselytizing real estate investing and discussed the dangers of real estate investing instead of downplaying the risk and throwing around words like cash flow and rat race.

Hey, Kiyosaki you’re a day late and a dollar short with your bubble talk. The real estate communities, including bloggers like myself, have been taking about the bubble for a while. You just started this month.

Besides the obvious reason of not wanting to look like more of a moron, why has the exalted one changed his tune so radically since the cornerstone of the rich dad philosophy has always been real estate?

The only answer I could figure out was that he was taking a break from counting the money collected from his over priced rich dad merchandise when one of his ass monkeys brought him the news that a bubble was looming. Kiyosaki probably realized that he was going to look like a real schmuck when the correction occurred and he was still doing his Bring it On act for real estate investing. He probably consulted his lawyers on the matter who told him that legally he had nothing to worry about but it wouldn’t hurt to warn his fast trackers about the impending bubble even though it was too late for any of them to do anything about it.

So he begins to write or has one of his ass monkeys write about the dire economic apocalypse that he alone has predicted therefore creating a smokescreen that he knew about this all along and is alerting the fast trackers of the situation.

This preemptive strike of talking about the bubble is simply Kiyosaki doing the CYA dance so when his followers get clobbered in the market, he will be doing the jig on the catbird seat saying “I told you so. Don’t blame me”

All you need to do is google rich dad poor dad and you will see that there is a multitude of suckers who have dedicated their lives to his philosophy. Every time these fast trackers read his words they cream in their jeans and have themselves a cash flow game circle jerk. I don’t know what’s worse, the cult of fast trackers or people who have dedicated their lives learning the Klingon language. At least learning Klingon is useful at Star Trek conventions.

Those poor bastards who followed his advice have binged on cheap properties like Orson Welles at an all you can eat buffet and are located in areas that are not exactly the hot bed of the real estate bubble which include Buffalo and Philadelphia. When it bursts fast tracker faith will be sorely shaken and many of them will get a first hand experience at foreclosures.

NYC Cashflow, devotees of the rich dad philosophy, have also begun a slow but obvious shift into other arenas besides real estate and are now focusing on other forms entrepreneurship as stated on their website. They obviously see the writing on the wall of what is happening with the New York market and do not want to be caught in any backlash. Yet despite Kiyosaki’s dire prediction, NYC Cashflow has at this time only addressed the issue of the bubble once. The way things are going I predict in the near future that NYC Cashflow is going to veer away from real estate and focus on something more contemporary and safe like high stakes poker in order to retain their members.

If you think I despise Kiyosaki himself. I don’t. I think he is bloody brilliant. He has made a fortune with his clichés and merchandising. All risk free on his part since he has never proposed his fast trackers to put their money in his personal investments. In fact there is evidence that he has a strict policy that none of his fast trackers are allowed to know of his financial portfolio and does not discuss his personal investments to the public for fear of litigation.

What I am concerned about is that under the guise of helping others he has preyed on our insecurities during these uncertain times. The words downsizing and outsourcing have become part of the vernacular of the general population. We are constantly on the edge wondering if our jobs will be on the chopping block and sent to another country. We seek a solution, something that will take away our fears of our uncertainty. Kiyosaki claims to have found the Holy Grail and we blindly embrace his words as the gospel convinced that he has the answers. When in fact we are being sold false hopes and dreams.

If you think this is sour grapes, please go to these two links Tiger Cafe and John T Reed's analysis of Robert Kiyosaki's work. I assure you all it will explain everything.

When I first started in the real estate business I realized that Kiyosaki was either wrong or very vague on a lot of aspects about the real estate business and began to do some digging about him. What I found out was surprising at first but then it made a lot of sense. Reading these sites will allow you to understand why I am so critical of Kiyosaki. Some reasons will be more obvious than others.

It is quite likely that Kiyosaki will be untouched by the correction and the resulting fallout. So what is the point of the Grunt’s words? All the Grunt wants is to call Kiyosaki out and show the world the emperor has no clothes. If it prevents even one person from buying into the cult of Kiyosaki, the Grunt will fall asleep in his foxhole happy.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Run for the life boats. This ship is sinking

Good. Twice the pride, double the fall.

Count Dooku

You probably all have heard this already but homesales set a record in June of this year.

According to the National Association of Realtors,

In June, existing homes sold at an annual rate of 7.33 million units, an all-time high and an increase of 2.7 percent from the seasonally adjusted sales pace in May, according to a report Monday from the National Association of Realtors.

Of course the realtors are banging the war drums of how great this is.

"Just when you think sales activity is ready to settle into a more sustainable pace, the housing market continues to surprise," said David Lereah, the Realtors' chief economist.

But others have a different opinion.

But other analysts noted that mortgage rates, as measured by Freddie Mac's nationwide survey, have risen for three straight weeks and now stand at 5.73 percent for a 30-year mortgage, a development they expect will start to dampen both demand and prices.

"We are not looking for a burst bubble nationally, but we do expect things to slow down," said Beth Ann Bovino, an economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.

All the Grunt knows is that this a sign of the impending bust. Those of you who are first time investors eager to invest into real estate, the Grunt's recommendation is to act with extreme caution. Do not be pushed around by fast talking brokers who keep telling you that the market is only going to go up and this is the time to buy before interest rates kicks up. And even if there is a bubble that Manhattan will be unfazed. The reality is that no one knows how bad the correction will be. Unless there is a dire need to find a home because of tax or personal reasons, you should just treat real estate like a night at Scores. Look but don't touch.

Recently the Grunt heard on the wire that a lot of the high end homes in Manhattan are being put on the market. The Grunt can only ascertains that segment of the market has gotten the greenlight to liquidate. But they may be too late. Currently the Grunt has seen more demand for starter apartments including studios. The more expensive inventory isn't catching anyone's eye. Maybe it's because of the enormous price tag.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A letter to the readers of the PropertyGrunt

Dear Readers,

If you were to ask me several years ago that one day I would be in the company of the New York Times in being nominated for an award and be invited to join the Special forces of real estate agents to cover one of the biggest conferences on REALTORS® I would think you were crazy. But it seems like the whole world has gone nuts.

The PropertyGrunt has been nominated for the 2005 Inman Innovator Award for Most Innovative Media Site. The other nominees include Curbed, Brownstoner and the New York Times. This award will be presented at the Real Estate Connect San Francisco, considered to be one of the most prestigious conferences that focuses on the real estate industry, takes place from July 27-July 29 2005.

The PropertyGrunt also accepted an invitation to join the real estate blog squad by the esteemed Frances Flynn Thorsen of the Realtygram Blogger. The objective of this squad is to present coverage of the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco and to provide commentary regarding the New York market. The REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco is also another event that is considered to be on the Olympic level for real estate

The fact that the PropertyGrunt was accepted as a member of the Curbed army was a huge deal for me. But when Janis of Inman News informed me of my nomination and when Frances of the Realtygram Blogger presented her invitation to me I was quite touched. To be selected by your peers, especially those who are far more experienced and successful in everyway, is quite humbling and gratifying. Thank you Janis and Frances for these honors.

Because of these recent developments I have decided to implement certain changes that I have been pondering for quite awhile. You may have noticed the GUI of this blog is well…let me put it this way if Jakob Nielsen were to see my design I am sure he would order me beaten on sight.

Joyce Cohen often corrected me for my spelling and punctuation errors and I assumed that I had satisfied her editorial requirements when she ceased correcting me. I realized that was not the case when several readers pointed out that I still retain the habit of being careless in my words. One of the problems of writing a blog is that there is a tendency to be a bit too carefree. After all it is a journal however it is a published journal and that is being read therefore all efforts should be made to make it as presentable as possible. Of course content is the key to any successful blog but I feel that presentation also goes hand in hand.

With that said I will be making changes to the blog including ditching the spit and bailing wire model for something more presentable and professional. I also pledge to you good reader that I will make every attempt to proof read my work and to read up on my Strunk and White.

Do not worry. I don’t plan on going corporate. I am just updating myself to be more presentable.

Doing this requires a tremendous amount of effort but for all you readers who take the time to read my blog I figure it’s a fair exchange. I do appreciate every one of my readers who have read my work and I look forward to presenting more of my entries in the future.

I am also embarking on a noble experiment that will surely rattle some cages in the real estate world. Keeping it hush hush for now. But when it goes down you will all be the first to know.

Thank you,


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Client Poaching Part 2

So what happened?

Well the property manager alerted their superior who supported the decision of blocking the deal with the second broker. Despite the fact that the clients were not doing anything illegal, the head property manager felt it was unethical and unprofessional for the second broker to pick up the fee since the first broker did all of the work.

The property manager stated to me that although it would be an easy way out to simply accept them, it went against the property manger's principles to close this deal. In fact it just baffles the property manager that the motivation of the clients for their actions was that they disliked the originating broker.

If you didn't like the broker in the first place you should have never put in the application through that individual.

As of this date all parties are at a standoff.

Client Poaching Part 1

Client Poaching in teh real esate industry is akin to horse thievery. It is greatly frowned upon. The Grunt recently recieved an email from a property manager who was presented with a common situation that occurs. A broker shows an apartment to some clients. They put in application and are accpeted. They do not hear from them for a a week, then a second broker jumps in representing the original party to collect the fee.

There are several brokers working to rent up the vacancies in one of our buildings. One broker sent us an application from a young couple They had little credit. We told the broker we would accept them, preferably with a parent acting as guarantor.

The next week, our other broker calls us. Tells me the same couple came to them and told them they had seen the apartment with the first broker, but didn't like him -- they said they thought he was playing around with the prices. They want them to be their broker, and they still want the apartment.

I told her we will not rent it to them through them, once an agent shows you an apartment, you can't shop around for whoever gets you a better deal, and if we did this, the first broker could sue us, her, and the tenants. The other broker insists they have a right to use any broker they have a rapport with, and there is no ethical or legal reason to insist they use the first guy.

Incidentally, the tenants do not have to pay anyone commission - we pay the commission as an incentive.

Who is right here?

Here was the Grunt's response.

The second broker is correct. Any client can go to any broker they want.
If the tenant has signed a fee agreement with the originating broker stating that they will pay a fee for any apartment the broker has shown them then they are SOL and have to go through the originating broker. My experience has been that in those situations the fee is usually divided between the two brokers.

Any legal action for this agreement would most likely occur between the originating broker and the clients.
If the originating broker has an agreement with your property making it their exclusive listing of theirs then yes they have to pay the fee to the originating broker. If the landlord/property manager were to violate this agreement then the originating broker could sue them for breach of contract.

What the clients are doing is called fee shopping which is frowned upon in my profession. It’s not illegal though unless the exceptions I have mentioned apply to the situation.
Please bear in mind I play by Manhattan rules. I learned very quickly that each territory has their own way of doing things. For instance, in Queens they charge one month rent for a fee while Manhattan is 15%.

From what you have described you are offering an OP, aka Owner Pays, apartment to the broker. It doesn’t make any sense for the clients to switch teams and fee shop unless the originating broker may be charging more money to cover the difference of the no fee.

From what I can ascertain from your email you are just trying to be fair in this situation, which is commendable. And you should at least be credited for doing the right thing.

My recommendation is the following:
Consult legal counsel about the situation and your superior. If you are in the clear they may authorize that the deal may only go through the originating broker.

What is your relationship with the originating broker? Is this listing an exclusive of theirs? It wouldn’t hurt to do a solid for them if they have been good to you and alert them of the situation and see if they have a binding agreement with their clients. If they do then they get the fee.

I empathize for your situation. Property managers have some of the hardest jobs in real estate. Yes. They are salaried but they have to deal with a lot of headaches that come with rentals. I know of some brokers who ditch property management for the freedom of being a broker.

Client poaching and fee shopping are common occurences in my line of work. Its not illegal unless agreements have been signed and it is greatly frowned upon in my industry.

What I found unique about this situation is that the property manager went out of their way to protect the originating broker. Usally when a poaching incident occurs its up to the feuding brokers to settle it whether through legal or informal means.

In the arena of rentals, the objective of the property manager is to fill vacancies particulary during high season of summer. And they will use whatever is at their disposal whether it is OPs, brokers and referrals. Unless and exclusive is signed, property managers usally could care less who gets the fee as long they are brought a well qualified tenant. Please don't get me wrong. I am not trying to bash property managers. They play a critical role in the maintaining of a building and they deal with some nasty crap on a daily basis. But from what I understand as long they are not liable property managers usally do not get involved in the matters between brokers

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don't be a Grasshopper

Back in the day when the Grunt was in college he knew these two people who dropped out of school. The first one’s exit from college was not by their own will and was due in part to a ton of partying resulting in low grades and the boot from the administration. This person attempted to complete their education part time but was unable to juggle the course load and now works in IT in the financial industry and was lucky enough to avoid several rounds of layoffs but their head is always on the chopping block.

The other person had a year and a half left in college when they decided to leave to help out the family business. Two years later after the business collapsed, the person tried to go back to school fulltime but just couldn’t adjust to the new surroundings of being the oldest student in class and now works in the fashion industry working in operations. It’s a good job but it is frustrating because they have hit the glass ceiling in terms of their employment opportunities and desire to do more. But although it has never been brought up it is obvious that they would have more of a fighting chance if they had completed their college education.

The Grunt brings these people up because of a recent article in the New York Times about how the real estate industry has become of a feast of employment. It gives the Grunt flashbacks to the dotcom boom when everyone was either working for a dotcom or planning to. There were tons of people running in droves to get their Microsoft certifications and people were abuzz with stories of excess including outrageous parties, insane expense accounts and money being given away. It seemed that every household in America was tuned into CNBC and we were all getting carpet bombed by media coverage of people getting rich off of day trading.

It seems like old times as people are gravitating in droves to the real estate industry in the effort to pursue the American dream. The article presents these points of interest.

Encompassing everything from land surveyors to general contractors to loan officers, the sprawling sector has added 700,000 jobs to the nation's payrolls over the last four years, according to an analysis by, a research firm.
Combined, the rest of the economy has lost nearly 400,000 jobs over the same span, which stretches back to the start of the most recent recession, in 2001.

Looks good however there is a catch.

For all its benefits, the newfound power of real estate has also left the country vulnerable to a housing slowdown, which many economists expect over the next few years. Residential housing now makes up 16 percent, or $1.9 trillion, of the gross domestic product and is the economy's largest single sector, slightly bigger than the industries and services that supply health care, according to
Frederick, an old farming area not far from the Antietam, Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry battlefields, is a typical housing-dependent community, where new homes are sprouting from the ground even as the values of existing ones are still soaring. Much of the interior West and less crowded parts of California and Florida have also been adding real estate jobs by the thousands.

Mentioned in the article is Mike Muren who turned down college to jump headfirst into the real estate industry as a broker making $250,000 and now owns a Cadillac. Mr. Muren displays a false and annoying sense of modesty about his income. But Mr. Muren is failing to see is what is ahead of him, which could be a very bleak future. To all the Mike Murens of the world who have ditched their education in favor of the easy money of real estate, I implore you all to please reconsider. This trend will not last forever. Eventually the party is going to be over and someone is going to have to pay the tab. When that happens every one is going to get the hell out of dodge and you will most likely need to find another job, which is going to be pretty hard to do without a college degree. You don’t believe me? Take at look at the NYT series on class, particularly about the consequences of not having a college degree. Then tell me if I am crazy.

Please bear in mind there are a countless people who have never stepped in a college classroom and have been extremely successful including Tony Hawk, Peter Jennings and Troy from the first Apprentice. I know many agents who do not have a degree and have been very successful. For all I know Mike Muren will end up making more money than me and end up being the next Donald Trump. However only time will tell. I do know that by not having a college degree and simply counting on the good times he is limiting his options for the future.

At one point in my undergraduate career I was considering taking off for a year. I wasn’t doing as well as I had wanted to and I figured I needed some time off. But after talking to a family member, I decided to stick it out. I was almost done anyway. Why drag it out. I am glad I finished up in time and do not regret my decision in completing my education.

Real estate is one of those unique industries where an academic pedigree is not a prerequisite and because of the low barrier of entry it presents itself as an industry for the have nots to become the haves through hard work and sheer force of will. It is especially attractive during this period of time. But as I have stated before this trend will not last forever.

When the correction goes down, I know that there will be a loud faction of real estate professionals who will feel betrayed by what they were told. They will seek to blame others from the government to fsbos to immigrants. In some way they were hoodwinked from seeing what was going to happen which prevented them from preparing

The Grunt's response is save your breath. You were warned countless times that something was going down and you should have looked at past history to know that there is a cyclical pattern to life and you had every opportunity to prepare for it. If you want to avoid this start looking at other options including school.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Do not mess with this kid

I told you. Go to this link for more furious fighting action.


In a previous entry, the Grunt discussed the importance of owners authorizing doormen to allow access to the apartments. Owners who have investment properties should also ensure their tenants allow access to their apartments. Unless there is a legal obligation to open up their residence to the public the tenant can pretty much shut it down.

This story of the broker comes to do an open house but is prevented access by the tenant residing in the apartment happens more than you think. The Grunt recently heard this tragedy occuring again. The end result was an open house that could have netted a deal but was killed by a very irritatable tenant.

The Grunt has had experiences with uncooperative tenants and has learned the best way to deal with them is let the owner deal with it because it is the owner's problem.

For those of you who are jumping on the condo investment bandwagon, I implore that you put in the proper conditions in your leases that allow you access to the apartment and ensure that the tenant understands these conditions. It will save you alot of aggravation. The Grunt knows an investor who owns a bunch of rental units in residential building and makes it clear to his tenants that they must agree to give access to the owner when it is called upon them to do so.

The Grunt can empathize with the tenants who shut down open houses. When I first moved to New York, the owner of my apartment was selling the place and it was really aggravating to have strangers coming walking around my domicile especially after I had cleaned it up and I had to re-clean it.

The Grunt had one listing where the tenant was a family and boy did they give the Grunt the runaround. Even when the Grunt had confirmed appointments with the tenant they would shut it down at the last minute.

Liquidation is an option that all investors should be aware of and should be ready to engage in at a moment's notice. Until you sell that apartment, your money is locked up in that unit. Rarely do people buy sight on unseen. If a tenant prevents to your property it will be very difficult to sell. The best remedy is a legal remedy which is a lease that is favorable to the owner's needs. The Grunt recommends going to a real estate lawyer who specializez in leases and in your area. It is also a good idea to maintain good relations with your tenants.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Professors on the Hunt

Joyce Cohen has another fantastic column that people in the academic field should take note of.

Its about Thomas and Katherine Cole who decided to move from their home in Haven to Manhattan. Mr. Cole was a professor at Yale and Mrs. Cole also has a Yale connection as a grad student there it was where she met Mr. Cole who was a professor there until his retirement 5 years ago.

I think the smartest thing this couple did was that they purchased a home in 1975 for $40,000 and received a full-price offer of $469,000 on their house instead of using university housing. Universities usally offer housing to their faculty and it is actually one of the key incentives universities use to lure professors onto their campuses.

NYU is considered to be one of the biggest real estate owners in all of Manhattan. That type of leverage has enabled them to get the cream of the crop since housing is a big deal for most professors.

Columbia has finally jumped on the bandwagon and has been purchasing everything within their vicinty. Heeding the calls from their own faculty they also began construction of a new k-12 school for their professors and administration.

However there is a catch. Depending on the school, housing is not free and even if it is the colleges have a way getting their money back from their own staff. NYU charges rent for their housing to their faculty and administration and once a professor retires they are out of there.

The Grunt showed a rental to a couple who were residents of NYU but since the one who worked for NYU was retiring they needed to find other options and were at the mercy of the market. The Grunt knows one professor who deferred the housing option to buying a home an hour upstate an hour away by metro north. This professor made the decision to buy because he wanted his two dogs to have a yard to run around. He is really happy about his dogs since his home has appreciated quite well since purchasing it and he plans on retiring very soon instead of running around like his colleagues for a place to live.

Academics, particuarly professors have an extrememly difficult time when it comes to real estate. Even after graduate students complete their studies and earn their Phds their employment options are unpredictable since it depends which schools have availabilities. And tenure is not given out freely. Even if a professor spends a signifigant time and effort at a college or university it does not guarantee that they will get tenure.

So what is a professor to do? The ideal situation is to do what the Coles did which is to build equity in the vicinity of where they work. However there is a caveat because certain colleges may not have the best housing market so it might be best to utilize university housing.

If it is not an option to buy within the area then they should still look for a home whether it is a house or condo in order to build equity somewhere they are comfortable with. While they are living on campus they can rent out their home to offset the mortgage and when the times comes they can vacate their home settle in after their retirement. The objective is to prepare for retirement and it is never too early to for that.

For the academics who have just graduated with their Phds and are saddled with school debt and looking for an adjunct position. You should definitely start looking and begin to formulate a strategy involving home ownership. Bear in mind, you need to beat that student loan debt.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Getting the hell out of dodge

Sometime ago the Grunt was having dinner with an amigo that worked in the finance industry. My amigo informed me that managers of certain funds that owned portfolios of real estate were liquidating all of their real estate assets and basically getting the hell out of dodge. It was his assertion that they were being motivated by the notion that the market was at its height and this was the time to get out.

The Grunt’s intelligence was confirmed by a recent NYT article about the commercial market and how that industry was coping with the looming bubble while making deals on commercial real estate and has confirmed there are many players from pension funds to private real estate owners who are dumping their property as we speak.

"Some sophisticated investors are sending strong signals that prices cannot rise much higher. Among the big sellers that have been shedding billions of dollars worth of office and retail property in recent months have been Calpers, the nation's largest pension fund; Equity Office Properties, the giant real estate investment trust; and many private landlords like the Shorenstein family of San Francisco."

Obviously sellers are jumping in since this could be height of the market and factions are lining up to put their money in real estate due to its return comparing to the other investments at this time. What also works in the seller’s favor is the current lack of inventory in certain markets, e.g. New York City making it even more valuable.

"Commercial real estate is awash with capital, and many buyers are accepting initial returns of 5 percent or even less because they have few investment alternatives."

Real estate is also very management intensive comparing to other investments. I often hear this argument from sales people or mortgage brokers whenever they are backed in a corner about the real estate market they chant, “You can’t live in a stock or bond but you can live in a house.” No s**t Sherlock.

Stocks and Bonds aren’t designed as homes. They are simply investment tools. Real estate on the other hand serves as dual purpose from investment to sanctuary. However it means more responsibility and headaches for the owner.

The beauty of a stock, bond mutual fund is that the purchaser of the stock is not in charge of maintaining the investment. That responsibility lies in the hands of the hierarchy of the CEO and the board. As an owner of stock you are just there for the ride and if you are dissatisfied then you can leave or leverage your shares in making some changes in the company depending how much pull you have.

Not with real estate. If you own a portfolio of investment property you need the infrastructure to maintain the building. That includes property managers who have a staff of superintendents who make sure the fires are stoked in boilers, the apartments are renovated and cleaned. You also need a crew of badass lawyers to deal with negligent tenants and lawsuits that are either meritorious or frivolous filed by everyone who has a raging hard on to take down a landlord. So it’s pretty much a no brainer why portfolio owners would take a Bill Gates ransom in exchange for their inventory.

So why would someone be crazy enough to buy a portfolio of buildings at this time? The NYT article points out that the commercial market has become just as risky residential.

"To Jim Titus, the managing director of Realpoint, the research arm of GMAC Institutional Advisors, today's prices are reminiscent of the late 1980's, when Japanese investors overpaid for trophy buildings and went on to suffer huge losses. "I sort of see a similar situation potentially brewing," Mr. Titus said."

""The volume of outstanding commercial mortgages has been growing and the total is now equivalent to 14.4 percent of gross domestic product, a level not seen since the days before the real estate crash of the early 1990's, according to Moody's Investors Service. As with residential real estate, the proportion of interest-only loans has risen sharply."

However it makes note that this is not 1989 where owners were lining up to do the voluntary conveyance dance with their lenders and turned in enough keys for a carnival cruise line of wife swapping parties. The article points out that the options of financing are more varied than ever which allows more ways for the high profile investors to protect themselves.

"Another difference is that 15 years ago, most financing came from banks and savings and loans. When rental income fell below mortgage payments, many landlords were unable to refinance their mortgages. Today, by contrast, real estate financing has become highly complex, with many types of lenders assuming different levels of risk. "There were much fewer choices 15 years ago than you have today," said Sam Zell, the chairman of Equity Office Properties."

Another point I would like to stress that the people who are buying these gi-normous portfolios are not idiots. They are the cream of the crop of the finance world and a lot of them are lifers who have survived many a campaign in the investment world. They have licked their wounds and have seen the errors of the past and make an effort to walk the path of victory. They are well aware that they are walking on deadly ground realizing a bubble is hard to kill and any plans for a quick return is marked for death. One false move and they could find themselves under siege.

So when the correction occurs they will already have the proper measures in place to protect their interests. Which means getting the right mortgages, financing and getting the right people and cleaning house in getting rid anything that could harm their investments which includes negligent workers and deadbeat tenants.

Unlike the first time investor, they will be able bear the storm resulting in the proper execution of their strategy of buying and holding onto their investments for the duration.

The shrewd investor should treat these types of trends as the canary in the mine. It’s definitely an indication that a correction is looming because the big players are dumping their inventory. However when its going to happen and what form it will manifest itself in is unknown.

I would never say these people are right all the time. The financial world is strewn with the corpses of former dynamos who were filled with the arrogance that their way was the right way. To simply blindly follow what the Goliaths do would be suicidal. It is just something to consider when you are analyzing your own status and making the decision to buy or sell.

But in my personal opinion this is just another sign of the pop.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Beantown Bubble

In a recent article from the Inman news, it was reported that Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the riskiest real estate markets. This was from a report by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine that based their analysis from the PMI Risk Index.

The criteria for the list included job growth, population, median income and affordability. Boston fit the profile due to the loss of 200,000 jobs since 2000 and housing prices that are not aware of the laws of gravity. However there are certain factors that were unique to the markets that attributed to their risk.

Los Angeles was not only affected by speculation and skyrocket prices but also the likelihood of the removal of certain restrictions that would allow a surplus of inventory to enter the market.

New York not to be outdone was divided into 4 metropolitan areas. One of the areas that the Grunt took note of was White Plains. The development gods have certainly blessed White Plains with a new wave of shopping facilities including a Target and Whole Foods. Also with the likes of Donald Trump, White Plains has also become condo central. However the Grunt figures this is how it gets a little dicey. The majority of the buyers are speculators and when the bubble pops, there is no doubt in my mind that many investors will be running wild in the streets trying to sell off their once prized possessions.

Its kind of cute how they referred to the Boston Bubble as the Beantown Bubble. I guess its better than the New Kids on the Block Bubble or the Boston Red Sox aneeded lmost a hundred years to win another world series Bubble. But seriously folks. I think this is outrageous that Boston is beating New York as the the riskiest real estate market. We should be ashamed.

Below is the chart from PMI Index

PMI Risk Index by MSA

Risk Risk
MSA Index MSA Index
------------------------------------- --------------------------------
Boston-Quincy, MA 534 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 108
Nassau-Suffolk, NY 511 Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 102
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA 487 Austin-Round Rock, TX 101
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Portland-Vancouver-
CA 481 Beaverton, OR-WA 101
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos,
CA 467 Kansas City, MO-KS 100
Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 446 Orlando, FL 99
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 431 Marietta, GA 99
Los Angeles-Long Beach- Charlotte-Gastonia-
Glendale, CA 404 Concord, NC-SC 97
Sacramento-Arden-Arcade- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale,
Roseville, CA 401 AZ 97
San Francisco-San Mateo-
Redwood, CA 395 St Louis, MO-IL 90
Providence-New Bedford-Fall Houston-Baytown-Sugarland,
River, RI-MA 389 TX 87
Detroit-Livonia, Dearborn MI 379 IL 86
Riverside-San Bernardino- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett,
Ontario, CA 339 WA 84
New York-Wayne-White Plains,
NY-NJ 331 Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 78
Edison, NJ 313 Philadelphia, PA 72
Minneapolis-St Paul- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West
Bloomington, MN-WI 251 Allis, WI 68
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-
Deerfield Beach, FL 236 San Antonio, TX 64
New Orleans-Metairie-
Denver-Aurora, CO 208 Kenner, LA 64
Newark-Union, NJ-PA 206 OH 64
Average 202 Columbus, OH 63
Washington-Arlington- Nashville-Davidson-
Alexandria, DC-MD-VA-WV 187 Murfreesboro, TN 62
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL 182 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 60
Warren-Farmington Hills-Troy, Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-
MI 160 KY-IN 58
Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater,
FL 142 Indianapolis, IN 56
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport
News, VA-NC 115 Pittsburgh, PA 55
Baltimore-Towson, MD 114

Ok. Now we're really screwed. Hollywood jumps into real estate

This is straight from Inman news. Notice the originality in the titles

Real estate is going Hollywood. ABC has "Hot Properties," a show about four women working in a Manhattan real estate office. And NBC is reportedly working on a show called "Hot Property" about the lives of three real estate agents in Houston.

The reason I see this as a sign of the end is that during the dotcom/stock market boom, Hollywood put out two tv series, The Street and Bull. A very short time later the market collpased as did these two shows. What I have noticed is that when it comes to shows that are trend related, Hollywood is always on some type of lag. And by the time they come out the trend is on its last legs.

Unless these shows have something more to provide then the wacky hijinks that occur in a brokerage firm then I am in doubt about their longevity. I put my money on Hot Properties to last longer because its set in NYC which is a more high profile market than Houston. Hopefully they will change the titles to something more original. If the producers and writers are smart they will follow the Steven Bochco model of storytelling. From NYPD BLue to LA Law, Bochco always had a knack for using the setting of his shows as part of the cast and not simply as window dressing and made an effort to focus on character development. Of course, we'll forget Blind Justice and Cop Rock.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Dark Water: Roosevelt Island

Curbedand Gothamist recently did stories on the setting of the movie Dark Water starring the beautiful Jennifer Connely who the Grunt fell in love with in the movie Career Opportunities co-starring Frank Whaley Kilmer, Labyrinth with David Bowie and of course the Dave Stevens classic Rockteer

Curbed and Gothamist did a nice rundown of the Island but the Grunt would like to throw in his two cents.

One of the big residential attractions of Roosevelt Island is Manhattan Park. Its a great residential complex with good rents but what makes it even more attractive is that the building is an OP building offering a very generous three month fee to brokers who bring clients to their building and it is an ideal location for international employees since it is near to the UN and the rent is very low comparing to Manhattan.

However it is an acquired taste because of its location. Roosevelt Island is not the lower east side when it comes to nightlife and places of amusement. From what the Grunt has heard on the wire its pretty quiet especially at night and parts of it are quite industrial. So if you are looking to party like a rockstar your going to be commuting alot and if you are ordering out at night you will most likely be calling Long Island City. If you despise cold weather you might want to reconsider since it gets quite windy during the winter.

Despite these drawbacks, the Grunt knows of one broker in particular who has been quite successful with the area by implementing certain tactics to sell Manhattan Park. The broker would always drive clients into Roosevelt Island impressing the client that they were being professionally catered to however the ulterior motive of driving in was to avoid certain areas of Roosevelt Island that would surprise clients including a hospital that had handicapped patients.

The broker in question referred to these patients as wheelies since their own source of moblity were wheelchairs or other wheel based modes of transportation. Yeah. I don't think Christopher Reeve would have approved of the term either. These handicapped patients would often depart from the hospital en masse at certain times of the day mixing with the general population of the island. So the broker always scheduled their appointments around their timetable in order to avoid them. If by chance a client were to see a handicapped person, the broker wouldn't miss a beat and spin a story sympathizing their plight and of the hospital. What a sweetheart.

By controling the situation the broker would sell Manhattan Park as the best deal of all the city because of the transportation, the quick commute to the city, low rent, amenities and of course it was NO FEE. By pointing out these attributes and avoiding the deterrents of the area the broker often closed many a deal therefore turning Manhattan Park into their own little gold mine.

Its one of the simple but brilliant strategies of finding a niche, understanding its weaknesess and strengths and marketing the hell out of it. This is a basic tenet of law that all successful brokers follow from the Shvos to the Baums of the world. Know your inventory cold and know how to sell it to anyone.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

7-11 YES

The Grunt was absolutley ecstatic as he scarfed down his favortie guilty pleasure of nachos. Deep friend corn chips, slathered with artifically flavored liquid cheese is a delicacy that the Grunt indulged in as a kid and now the Grunt gets to relive those days thanks to a new 7-11 that has opened up on 107 East 23rd.

24 hours of slurpee dreams and other indulgences can now be fufilled. Oh joy. Oh happy day.

This is a link from the New York Times that did an interview of James W. Keyes the big Kahuna of 7-11. Mr. Keyes, if you are reading this, the Grunt welcomes 7-11's return to the Big Apple. May your reign be bigger than Starbucks.

Here are some interesting facts about 7-11

7-Eleven, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, has reported 34 consecutive quarters of increased sales at stores open at least a year, as it has introduced more branded foods, made more frequent fresh-food deliveries and begun offering financial service products like prepaid shopping cards, prepaid cellphones, money orders and automated teller machines.

7-Eleven has a prepaid convenience card for those who don't have a credit card or maybe want a faster transaction. They are also in the process of implementing a contact-less payment system.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pissed off

The Grunt was quite surprised by the reaction he recieved with his letter to Whole Foods. Not only did he get press in Curbed but also his words hit the esteemed gossip blog Gawker. The Grunt was humbled by the exposure and realized that he had a hit nerve of sorts and decided to further explore the issue of urinary rights particulary with the concept of pay toilets.

Grunt's belief was that this whole issue of women lining up at their own restrooms and annexing men's room could be solved simply with the use of pay toilets. During holidays and or events where foot traffic increased tenfold in certain areas of the city, pay toilet would be installed in these areas allowing them to be accessible for women.

Now like any responsible broker, the Grunt did his due diligence on this subject and found out some interesting facts.

The British euphemism for uriniation, to spend a penny, evolved from the practice of charging for a public toilet.

According to the Post Gazette, back in 2003 Pittsburgh installed a pay toilet which cost $250,000 and yet cost a quarter to operate. That's an insane yield. However the Grunt had a solution which was to pass the cost of the toilets to the consumers by charging for 5 bucks a pop. Yes. Its unfair but would you rather pay through your taxes?

However the Grunt's plan of urinary liberation for the opposite sex hit a bit of a snag. According to the Gotham Gazette in 1975 pay toilets were outlawed in New York State because, well those facilities discriminated against women. However in 1993 NYC won an exemption thanks to the homeless who brought a class action lawsuit stating that the current rest facilities were inadequate for their needs and discriminated against them.

It seemed that pay toilets were on their way to liberate the bladders of its residents when it was stopped dead in its tracks once again accused of discrimination since not all of the toilets that were to be installed were handicapped accessible. Communities also banded against pay toilets due to their concerns that would not be well maintained and serve as a beacon for child molesters and other flotsam of society.

Giuliani even threw his hand into the pay toilet wars and one point was underway to sign an exclusive deal which detailed the following.

The plan was to contract for 20 years with a company that would provide all the "street furniture," including 430 newsstands and 3,300 bus shelters along with 30 toilets. The company would sell advertising on all of the furniture (not just the toilets), in order to help subsidize toilet creation, installation and maintenance.

Giuliani backed out in 1998 because it reeked of a monopoly and wouldn't allow that. Even a borough wide plan where 5 contracts would be awarded for each borough was nixed becasue the advertising model would not work for all boroughs since residential areas like Queens could not be self supporting.

All hope is not lost. San Francisco has a very succesful street toilet program.

24 available toilets average 80 uses per day, offering 20 minutes of toilet time for 25 cents (20 minutes was recommended by the mayor's task force for the handicapped.) The coin revenue does not begin to pay for the $200,000 cost of the toilet, or for its daily maintenance. To cover those costs, the company sells advertising on cylindrical kiosks erected in high traffic areas.

However it looks like that any chances of relief for women are far and few. The Grunt can only provide this link to the bathroom diaries. This is a fantastic website of all the public bathrooms in New York City so it should help all the women out there who are need of urinary relief.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London bombing

If you haven't heard yet a series of explosions occured in London that was directed at their transit system. The Grunt is saddened and disturbed at these terrorist attacks. His prayers go out to the victims.

As we speak New York is going on red alert. Commissioner Ray Kelly has announced that secruity has been stepped up all over the city and a planned terror drill in the subway system will be underway.

All the Grunt has to say is keep alert and maintain your usual routine.

Let's be careful out there.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Its over. Mortgage brokers advertising on Aintitcool News

Ok. This is weird. Products and services advertised on Aint It Cool News are usually associated with the film, tv and entertainment industry. Now they have Lower My bills advertising mortgages. Harry Knowles, they got you too.

No Olympics for us

Just heard it on the Today Show that the city of fish and chips will be the host for the 2012 games. Congratulations London. It will be interesting to see how this achievement will affect their real estate market since London is in the beginning stages of a bubble pop. Nice effort New York. I guess this means that more money will be spent taking down all those Olympic promotional stickers around the city.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An open letter to Whole Foods

Dear Whole Foods,

I am a frequent patron of your esteemed establishment who often partakes in your vast array of fresh produce and delicious hot buffet menu. On July 4th, 2005 after 4pm, I entered the Union Square Whole Foods to use your restroom where a woman stood outside of the men's room door and as I attempted to by pass her this bladder hussy informed me that she was waiting for the men's room also and blocked my entry. Clearly her motivation was to avoid being drafted in the army of women lined up outside of the women's restroom.

I was a bit surprised but I did not press the issue and I waited behind her to see how the situation would play itself out. Several moments later another male patron bypassed the line I was on and while the hussy was not looking he entered the restroom and I followed suit and discovered that the men's room has a stall that was occupied while the urinal and sink were vacant. I concluded my business as quickly as possible for fear of the restroom hussy busting through the door and dragging me out with my pants down at my ankles.

As I vacated the premises the restroom hussy loudly demanded that the male patrons in the rest area remove themselves from the area so she could use the bathroom instead of waiting on line like the rest of her suffering colleagues.

Although I think this is an amusing anecdote that I have placed in my blog I realize this could have developed into a serious problem for the restroom social order that governs Whole Foods. What if there was a long line at the men's room? Would it be justifiable for a man to commandeer the women's rest room? I think not. Also should a man have to urinate in fear? I think not.

Obviously the bigger issue is that the geniuses that designed the layout for the Union Square Whole Foods did not take in consideration the massive influx of female users of their rest facilities. In the future when Whole Foods builds their next compound they should be aware of this fact and implement the changes needed to avoid this type of FUBAR, which includes more restroom facilities for women. A women's urinary rights are just as precious as their reproductive right and they should be treated with a great deal of respect. They are also a highly prized demographic of any retail business so it is in your best interest to make things as convenient for them as possible. Whole Foods should also consider creating restroom facilities that are custom made for cities that have a large transgender population like New York and San Francisco.

In the meantime it is in the best interests of Whole Foods to enforce bathroom law. There are certain rogue elements like the hussy that wish to engage in toilet anarchy and that cannot be tolerated. Just because they are inconvenienced does not mean they have the right to inconvenience others.

Although I empathize with the hussy's plight I do not think she was justified in preventing me from entering the men's rest room. She should not hold it against me the fact that I can relieve myself standing up just I should not hold it against her that she has the gift of bearing children and being a mother. Fortunately I am a gentleman when dealing with the fairer sex and I maintain a policy of quiet yet strong composure even when dealing with unstable personalities whether they are male or female.

You may brush off my words as the rantings of a crackpot but I hope you recognize the gravity of this situation. It could have been quite catastrophic for Whole Foods. What if the hussy had blocked a father bringing his son who desperately needed to use the bathroom? What if an elderly gentleman with a weak prostate was forced to relieve himself in the hallways of the Whole Foods establishment resulting in his humiliation and loss of his dignity? I can guarantee that in such a litigious town, legal action against Whole Foods would have easily been found meritorious.

My recommendation is the following. A sign should be prominently displayed stating the bathroom policies and designations of each restroom. It should also state that if any patrons violate these policies then they should be ejected from Whole Foods immediately. There should also be a security guard stationed in the vicinity to enforce the rules.

By no means am I recommending that Whole Foods should institute rest room nazis that maintain a fascist lavatory order. In certain situations, rules should be bent regarding the access to restroom facilities to assist their customers in emergency situations. But a balance must be maintained to ensure that the washroom infrastructure does not implode.


The Grunt

Friday, July 01, 2005

Random thoughts before the July 4th weekend

Yes. I will be working on this holiday weekend. Why? Because it is my job to sell at all times. 24/7 365 days a year. Well not everyday. I have learned that even on the holidays the serious buyers come out to play. Do I wish I was doing something else? Yes. But this is the profession that I have chosen and I will fufill my duties as required.

In a totally unrelated topic to real estate, the Grunt came upon this entry in Gothamist. Itis about Matthew Kaye aka Matt Striker who was a public social studies teacher moonlighting as a professional wretler. He got into trouble using sick days to go on a professional wrestling tour which included a match with Kurt Angle on WWE Smackdown.

Mr. Kaye has taken responsibilty for his actions and is willing to make amends. But the board seems to be going out of his way to put the screws in him. According the NYT article there is no mention of any type of misconduct other than the abuse of the sick days. In fact he is considered to be a popular teacher amoung students.

The Grunt is not a hardcore fan of wrestling but is aware of the amount of dedication and drive it takes to be one. Hulk Hogan got his leg broken by his teacher Hiro Matsuda the first time he stepped in the ring. But Hogan returned to the ring to continue his education and the rest is history. Stone Cold Steve Austin survived on a diet of a bag of potatoes which he ate raw and 6 cans of tuna fish when he began his career. Paul Wight aka "The Big Show" once made a sandwich out of bread and toothpaste since he was penniless at the time.

A New York City high school teacher are on the frontlines not only educating students but dealing with more than their fair share of turmoil that comes along with the job. It is not uncommon for them to burnout or only exert enough effort to punch a clock so they can get a paycheck.

To get a match on Smackdown with Kurt Angle is a huge accomplishment. Especially an unknown who would be considered a jobber or babyface. This shows how much drive and focus the wrestler has to get to that stage. These assets are definitely transferable to the educational field.

As I have stated before, the articles do not mention any type of misconduct by Mr. Kaye other than the misuse of sick days. So I am giving the benefit of the doubt that he is a good teacher. I say let the guy make amends and give him back his job. Mr. Kaye if NYC doesn't want you, there are plenty of places outside the city that would probably take a bigger interest in you.

And if the WWE or TNA is listening you should offer this guy a contract. This is the type of individual you want in your roster. Not only is he dedicated and focused to the ring but he is a positive role model for kids.