Property Grunt

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A very bendy Donna Karan

From Haute.

Yes. I would do her.

Bad news. Home sales fall to a 4 year low.

Good news. Wall Street did a rebound after hearing the reports on housing proving that age old adage of "real estate down = stock market up"

Really Good news. Grubb&Ellis predicts a booming commercial market for New York City for at least 2 years. Thanks FM.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The only color that should matter to any broker.

I once heard about this developer at a town hall meeting discussing a new building. This unnamed community was occupied by a demographic that was primarily Caucasian and wanted it to keep that way. During the meeting, they stated that they desired that the new development did not attract “those people.”

The developers response was “You mean the (derogatory term for Latinos?)”
From what I understand the reaction of the community members was well straight out of a scene from “Blazing Saddles”

After the meeting one of the community members realized something was off and went up to talk to the developer.

He asked “Your Latino aren’t you?”:

The developer responded with a devilish grin


To this day the developer still has no idea who “those people” are.

I bring up this story because of the recent article in the New York Times about hard questions broker’s can’t ask.

Redlining, steerage and all those nasty things associated with discrimination in real estate were covered in the law class of the real estate school. The instructor of that class, who was a lawyer, made it clear that DOS has special undercover units that go out in the field and pose as buyers. Armed with hidden microphones and video cameras, they record whatever a broker says while posing as couples. If the agent says or does anything discriminatory then they are going to be hearing their words be replayed before their licenses are suspended.

The fact is that people are going desire to live in areas that they are demographically comfortable with. However, it is the challenge of a broker to determine that without appearing discriminatory. Often a buyer has to present that information on their own.

I had a client once who was looking for something hip and cool downtown. So I proceeded to show him apartments in the west village. When we hit Christopher street, he informed me that he was gay but he had no desire to live in an area that was solely associated with his sexual identity. So I took him to Soho and found him a nice place in little Italy.

His sexual orientation was none of my business but he felt it was important to mention to me in order to help him find an apartment. And I am glad he did because I was able to narrow down his preferences.

The worst thing a broker can do is make assumptions about the preferences of where a buyer wants to live. I met this Chinese woman who moved her family to a racially mixed part of Long Island rather than an area heavily populated by Chinese people. Both her and her husband wanted their kids to be exposed to other cultures, also as she put it, Chinese people gossiped too much.

I personally do not feel comfortable living in a town without at least one Synagogue. If any of you were to ever meet me, you would find that quite surprising.
But what do you expect? Human beings are funny quirky beasts that have particular habits and needs that need to be fulfilled. Which of course doesn't make it any easier for brokers. Below are some points of the article I found interesting.

WHAT kind of people live in this building?”
That is often the first question brokers are asked by apartment hunters — be they couples with children, retirees seeking peace and quiet or 20-somethings prone to the occasional raucous party.
But in recent months, thousands of brokers have learned that in answering that question, they might just be breaking the law. Many real estate ads, for instance, use “family friendly” to describe large apartments. But according to a strict interpretation of federal, state and local fair-housing laws, that is illegal.
“If a family with children wants to know if there are other children the same age in a building, we’re supposed to say, ‘You should stand outside the building between 2 and 5 p.m. and see who walks in,’ ” said Michele Kleier, the president of Gumley Haft Kleier. “But how do you say something like that with a straight face?”

Whenever I was confronted with that question my response would be "A good mix of people." Then I would leave at that. But it appears nowadays that might be the wrong answer.

Lawyers also warn against listing specific school districts and using catchphrases like “great for families,” “nanny’s room,” “quality neighborhood” and “senior housing.”
The strict interpretation of fair-housing laws prohibits brokers from providing information about people that could be construed as discriminatory in any of 14 protected categories. The categories include familiar ones like race, religion, sex and disabilities and less well-known ones like familial status, marital status, citizenship and occupation.

Lawyers also warn against listing specific school districts and using catchphrases like “great for families,” “nanny’s room,” “quality neighborhood” and “senior housing.”
The strict interpretation of fair-housing laws prohibits brokers from providing information about people that could be construed as discriminatory in any of 14 protected categories. The categories include familiar ones like race, religion, sex and disabilities and less well-known ones like familial status, marital status, citizenship and occupation.

Now this is going to really piss off a lot buyers because they are not going to be able to get the proper information they need which will require them to actually contact the broker in question and even have to visit the apartment themselves. However, this might be to the advantage of the broker because it will give the opportunity to build a genuine rapport with the buyer

Mr. Garfinkel goes on to warn brokers that they should not identify the school districts where apartments are located. This, despite the fact that real estate ads often boast that an address is zoned for top-rated schools like P.S. 6 on the Upper East Side or P.S. 234 in TriBeCa.

A similar situation happened to me but it had to do with a listing in Westchester. I was talking to a broker about a house in that area.and then I asked about the school district. She immediately clammed up and claimed no knowledge and hung up. It left me puzzled until I spoke to real estate lawyer who told the topic of school districts was becoming a forbidden.

The brokers were in for some surprises. Mr. Garfinkel explained that to follow the city law regarding occupations, they should not ask people what they do for a living. “I think that blew everybody’s mind,” Mr. James said. “I don’t think we’ve recovered from that yet.”
The question is natural in the course of any getting-to-know-you conversation, Mr. James said, “but the point is what’s normal and everyday may not be legal.”
Mr. Garfinkel said that the occupation protection is often referred to as “the attorney law,” because it is meant to stop buildings from discriminating against lawyers — some buildings fear that they will be litigious and consequently bad neighbors.

Okay. This law was definitely written up by a lawyer. And unfortunately this type of discrimination does occur to lawyers. I know of one lawyer that when renting an apartment would leave out their occupation till the last minute. Unfortunately, for a broker to properly do their job, the buyer's occupation has to known. A broker needs to know what that person does for a living because it will play a huge factor in their purchase. For instance, if a client does sales, most likely the client will be compensated through commission. This might not go well for a landlord since they are looking for someone with a steady stream of income. So the broker will have to convince the client to get a guarantor.

Unfortunately, acts of discrimination do occur in the brokerage industry, however the fact that brokers are more willing to take preventive steps to discourage discrimination, intentional or otherwise, shows how serious the industry takes these issues.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Are you going to eat that?

A couple of years back I remember watching Primetime doing an expose on the garbage eaters which were this cult that, well ate garbage. I remember what was funny was when Diane Sawyer confronted one of the members and he started calling her a "Jezebel."

This article in today's New York Times reminded me of that cult. I am not saying Freegans are a cult. But they are definitely a movement.

June 21, 2007
Not Buying It
ON a Friday evening last month, the day after New York University’s class of 2007 graduated, about 15 men and women assembled in front of Third Avenue North, an N.Y.U. dormitory on Third Avenue and 12th Street. They had come to take advantage of the university’s end-of-the-year move-out, when students’ discarded items are loaded into big green trash bins by the curb.

New York has several colleges and universities, of course, but according to Janet Kalish, a Queens resident who was there that night, N.Y.U.’s affluent student body makes for unusually profitable Dumpster diving. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the gathering at the Third Avenue North trash bin quickly took on a giddy shopping-spree air, as members of the group came up with one first-class find after another.

Ben Ibershoff, a dapper man in his 20s wearing two bowler hats, dug deep and unearthed a Sharp television. Autumn Brewster, 29, found a painting of a Mediterranean harbor, which she studied and handed down to another member of the crowd.

Darcie Elia, a 17-year-old high school student with a half-shaved head, was clearly pleased with a modest haul of what she called “random housing stuff” — a desk lamp, a dish rack, Swiffer dusters — which she spread on the sidewalk, drawing quizzical stares from passers-by.

Ms. Elia was not alone in appreciating the little things. “The small thrills are when you see the contents of someone’s desk and find a book of stamps,” said Ms. Kalish, 44, as she stood knee deep in the trash bin examining a plastic toiletries holder.

A few of those present had stumbled onto the scene by chance (including a janitor from a nearby homeless center, who made off with a working iPod and a tube of body cream), but most were there by design, in response to a posting on the Web site

The site, which provides information and listings for the small but growing subculture of anticonsumerists who call themselves freegans — the term derives from vegans, the vegetarians who forsake all animal products, as many freegans also do — is the closest thing their movement has to an official voice. And for those like Ms. Elia and Ms. Kalish, it serves as a guide to negotiating life, and making a home, in a world they see as hostile to their values.

Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants.

They dress in castoff clothes and furnish their homes with items found on the street; at, where users post unwanted items; and at so-called freemeets, flea markets where no money is exchanged. Some claim to hold themselves to rigorous standards. “If a person chooses to live an ethical lifestyle it’s not enough to be vegan, they need to absent themselves from capitalism,” said Adam Weissman, 29, who started four years ago and is the movement’s de facto spokesman.

Freeganism dates to the mid-’90s, and grew out of the antiglobalization and environmental movements, as well as groups like Food Not Bombs, a network of small organizations that serve free vegetarian and vegan food to the hungry, much of it salvaged from food market trash. It also has echoes of groups like the Diggers, an anarchist street theater troupe based in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1960’s, which gave away food and social services.

According to Bob Torres, a sociology professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., who is writing a book about the animal rights movement — which shares many ideological positions with freeganism — the freegan movement has become much more visible and increasingly popular over the past year, in part as a result of growing frustrations with mainstream environmentalism.

Environmentalism, Mr. Torres said, “is becoming this issue of, consume the right set of green goods and you’re green,” regardless of how much in the way of natural resources those goods require to manufacture and distribute.

“If you ask the average person what can you do to reduce global warming, they’d say buy a Prius,” he added.

There are freegans all over the world, in countries as far afield as Sweden, Brazil, South Korea, Estonia and England (where much has been made of what The Sun recently called the “wacky new food craze” of trash-bin eating), and across the United States as well .

In Southern California, for example, “you can find just about anything in the trash, and on a consistent basis, too,” said Marko Manriquez, 28, who has just graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in media studies and is the creator of “Freegan Kitchen,” a video blog that shows gourmet meals being made from trash-bin ingredients. “This is how I got my futon, chair, table, shelves. And I’m not talking about beat-up stuff. I mean it’s not Design Within Reach, but it’s nice.”

But New York City in particular — the financial capital of the world’s richest country — has emerged as a hub of freegan activity, thanks largely to Mr. Weissman’s zeal for the cause and the considerable free time he has to devote to it. (He doesn’t work and lives at home in Teaneck, N.J., with his father and elderly grandparents.) sponsors organize Trash Tours that typically attract a dozen or more people, as well as feasts at which groups of about 20 people gather in apartments around the city to share food and talk politics.

In the last year or so, Mr. Weissman said, the site has increased the number and variety of its events, which have begun attracting many more first-time participants. Many of those who have taken part in one new program, called Wild Foraging Walks — workshops that teach people to identify edible plants in the wilderness — have been newcomers, he said.

The success of the movement in New York may also be due to the quantity and quality of New York trash. As of 2005, individuals, businesses and institutions in the United States produced more than 245 million tons of municipal solid waste, according to the E.P.A. That means about 4.5 pounds per person per day. The comparable figure for New York City, meanwhile, is about 6.1 pounds, according to statistics from the city’s Sanitation Department.

“We have a lot of wealthy people, and rich people throw out more trash than poor people do,” said Elizabeth Royte, whose book “Garbage Land” (Little, Brown, 2005) traced the route her trash takes through the city. “Rich people are also more likely to throw things out based on style obsolescence — like changing the towels when you’re tired of the color.”

At the N.Y.U. Dorm Dive, as the event was billed, the consensus was that this year’s spoils weren’t as impressive as those in years past. Still, almost anything needed to decorate and run a household — a TV cart, a pillow, a file cabinet, a half-finished bottle of Jägermeister — was there for the taking, even if those who took them were risking health, safety and a $100 fine from the Sanitation Department.

Ms. Brewster and her mother, who had come from New Jersey, loaded two area rugs into their cart. Her mother, who declined to give her name, seemed to be on a search for laundry detergent, and was overjoyed to discover a couple of half-empty bottles of Trader Joe’s organic brand. (Free and organic is a double bonus). Nearby, a woman munched on a found bag of Nature’s Promise veggie fries.

As people stuffed their backpacks, Ms. Kalish, who organized the event (Mr. Weissman arrived later), demonstrated the cooperative spirit of freeganism, asking the divers to pass items down to people on the sidewalk and announcing her finds for anyone in need of, say, a Hoover Shop-Vac.

“Sometimes people will swoop in and grab something, especially when you see a half-used bottle of Tide detergent,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want it? But most people realize there’s plenty to go around.” She rooted around in the trash bin and found several half-eaten jars of peanut butter. “It’s a never-ending supply,” she said.

Many freegans are predictably young and far to the left politically, like Ms. Elia, the 17-year-old, who lives with her father in Manhattan. She said she became a freegan both for environmental reasons and because “I’m not down with capitalism.”

There are also older freegans, like Ms. Kalish, who hold jobs and appear in some ways to lead middle-class lives. A high school Spanish teacher, Ms. Kalish owns a car and a two-family house in Queens, renting half of it as a “capitalist landlord,” she joked. Still, like most freegans, she seems attuned to the ecological effects of her actions. In her house, for example, she has laid down a mosaic of freegan carpet parcels instead of replacing her aging wooden floor because, she said, “I’d have to take trees from the forest.”

Not buying any new manufactured products while living in the United States is, of course, basically impossible, as is avoiding everything that requires natural resources to create, distribute or operate. Don’t freegans use gas or electricity to cook, for example, or commercial products to brush their teeth?

“Once in a while I may buy a box of baking soda for toothpaste,” Mr. Weissman said. “And, sure, getting that to market has negative impacts, like everything.” But, he said, parsing the point, a box of baking soda is more ecologically friendly than a tube of toothpaste, because its cardboard container is biodegradable.

These contradictions and others have led some people to suggest that freegans are hypocritical, making use of the capitalist system even as they rail against it. And even Mr. Weissman, who is often doctrinaire about the movement, acknowledges when pushed that absolute freeganism is an impossible dream.

Mr. Torres said: “I think there’s a conscious recognition among freegans that you can never live perfectly.” He added that generally freegans “try to reduce the impact.”

It’s not that freeganism doesn’t require serious commitment. For freegans, who believe that the production and transport of every product contributes to economic and social injustice, usually in multiple ways, any interaction with the marketplace is fraught. And for some freegans in particular — for instance, Madeline Nelson, who until recently was living an upper-middle-class Manhattan life with all the attendant conveniences and focus on luxury goods — choosing this way of life involves a considerable, even radical, transformation.

Ms. Nelson, who is 51, spent her 20s working in restaurants and living in communal houses, but by 2003 she was earning a six-figure salary as a communications director for Barnes & Noble. That year, while demonstrating against the Iraq war, she began to feel hypocritical, she said, explaining: “I thought, isn’t this safe? Here I am in my corporate job, going to protests every once in a while. And part of my job was to motivate the sales force to sell more stuff.”

After a year of progressively scaling back — no more shopping at Eileen Fisher, no more commuting by means other than a bike — Ms. Nelson, who had a two-bedroom apartment with a mortgage in Greenwich Village, quit her job in 2005 to devote herself full-time to political activism and freeganism.

She sold her apartment, put some money into savings, and bought a one-bedroom in Flatbush, Brooklyn, that she owns outright.

“My whole point is not to be paying into corporate America, and I hated paying a big loan to a bank,” she said while fixing lunch in her kitchen one recent afternoon. The meal — potato and watercress soup and crackers and cheese — had been made entirely from refuse left outside various grocery stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The bright and airy prewar apartment Ms. Nelson shares with two cats doesn’t look like the home of someone who spends her evenings rooting through the garbage. But after some time in the apartment, a visitor begins to see the signs of Ms. Nelson’s anticonsumerist way of life.

An old lampshade in the living room has been trimmed with fabric to cover its fraying parts, leaving a one-inch gap where the material ran out. The ficus tree near the window came not from a florist, Ms. Nelson said, but from the trash, as did the CD rack. A 1920s loveseat belonged to her grandmother, and an 18th-century, Louis XVI-style armoire in the bedroom is a vestige of her corporate life.

The kitchen cabinets and refrigerator are stuffed with provisions — cornmeal, Pirouline cookies, vegetarian cage-free eggs — appropriate for a passionate cook who entertains often. All were free.

She longs for a springform pan in which to make cheesecakes, but is waiting for one to come up on There are no new titles on the bookshelves; she hasn’t bought a new book in six months. “Books were my impulse buy,” said Ms. Nelson, whose short brown hair and glasses frame a youthful face. Now she logs onto, where readers share used books, or goes to the public library.

But isn’t she depriving herself unnecessarily? And what’s so bad about buying books, anyway? “I do have some mixed feelings,” Ms. Nelson said. “It’s always hard to give up class privilege. But freegans would argue that the capitalist system is not sustainable. You’re exploiting resources.” She added, “Most people work 40-plus hours a week at jobs they don’t like to buy things they don’t need.”

Since becoming a freegan, Ms. Nelson has spent her time posting calendar items and other information online and doing paralegal work on behalf of bicyclists arrested at Critical Mass anticar rallies. “I’m not sitting in the house eating bonbons,” she said. “I’m working. I’m just not working for money.”

She is also spending a lot of time making rounds for food and supplies at night, and has come to know the cycles of the city’s trash. She has learned that fruit tends to get thrown out more often in the summer (she freezes it and makes sorbet), and that businesses are a source for envelopes. A reliable spot to get bread is Le Pain Quotidien, a chain of bakery-restaurants that tosses out six or seven loaves a night. But Ms. Nelson doesn’t stockpile. “The sad fact is you don’t need to,” she said. “More trash will be there tomorrow.”

By and large, she said, her friends have been understanding, if not exactly enthusiastic about adopting freeganism for themselves. “When she told me she was doing this I wasn’t really surprised — Madeline is a free spirit,” said Eileen Dolan, a librarian at a Manhattan law firm who has known Ms. Nelson since their college days at Stony Brook. But while Ms. Dolan agrees that society is wasteful, she said that going freegan is not something she would ever do. “It’s a huge time commitment,” she said.

ONE evening a week after the Dorm Dive, a group of about 20 freegans gathered in a sparely furnished, harshly lit basement apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to hold a feast. It was an egalitarian affair with no one officially in charge, but Mr. Weissman projected authority, his blue custodian-style work pants and fuzzy black beard giving him the air of a Latin American revolutionary as he wandered around, trailed by a Korean television crew.

Ms. Kalish stood over the sink, slicing vegetables for a stir-fry with a knife she had found in a trash bin at N.Y.U. A pot of potatoes simmered on the stove. These, like much of the rest of the meal, had been gathered two nights earlier, when Mr. Weissman, Ms. Kalish and others had met in front of a Food Emporium in Manhattan and rummaged through the store’s clear garbage bags.

The haul had been astonishing in its variety: sealed bags of organic vegetable medley, bagged salad, heirloom tomatoes, key limes, three packaged strawberries-and-chocolate-dip kits, carrots, asparagus, grapes, a carton of organic soy milk (expiration date: July 9), grapefruit, mushrooms and, for those willing to partake, vacuum-packed herb turkey breast. (Some freegans who avoid meat will nevertheless eat it rather than see it go to waste.)

As operatic music played on a radio, people mingled and pitched in. One woman diced onions, rescuing pieces that fell on floor. Another, who goes by the name Petal, emptied bags of salad into a pan. As rigorous and radical as the freegan world view can be, there is also something quaint about the movement, at least the version that Mr. Weissman promotes, with its embrace of hippie-ish communal activities and its household get-togethers that rely for diversion on conversation rather electronic entertainment.

Making things last is part of the ethos. Christian Gutierrez, a 33-year-old former model and investment banker, sat at the small kitchen table, chatting. Mr. Gutierrez, who quit his banking job at Matthews Morris & Company in 2004 to pursue filmmaking, became a freegan last year, and opened a free workshop on West 36th Street in Manhattan to teach bicycle repair. He plans to add lessons in fixing home computers in the near future.

Mr. Gutierrez’s lifestyle, like Ms. Nelson’s, became gradually more constricted in the absence of a steady income. He lived in a Midtown loft until last year, when, he said, he got into a legal battle with his landlord over a rent increase — a relationship “ruined by greed,” he said. After that, he lived in his van for a while, then found an illegal squat in SoHo, which he shares with two others. Mr. Gutierrez had a middle-class upbringing in Dallas, and he said he initially found freeganism off-putting. But now he is steadfastly devoted to the way of life.

As people began to load plates of food, he leaned in and offered a few words of wisdom: “Opening that first bag of trash,” he said, “is the biggest step.”

I have never spent a dime for the furniture in my apartment. The dishes in my kitchen? Hand me downs. Even the computer I am writing this entry is second hand. Would I call myself a freegan? No. I am just frugal.

For some reason, free food always makes me happy. When I was in high school some friends and I got free onion rings at the Burger King one night because they were going to throw them out anyway. I was absolutely elated. In my pursuit of higher education I came across a great Italian that served free food at their meetings. I stopped going because I noticed I was gaining weight.

What I find humorous about this article is that a large number of people who are freegans are either former or current capitalists. They are part of this movement not out of survival, but because they believe too much in this world goes to waste. Which I agree and I think there should be more efforts to recycle and reuse.

I think all New Yorkers have engaged in some type of freeganism. Who hasn't spotted a a great kitchen table or tv on the street corner waiting to get picked up by the sanitation department and then recruited a couple of friends to move the stuff?

However, I do not encourage people to go dumpster diving, especially for food, unless you are starving to death. You don't know what is in those bags and also you don't know what was once in those dumpsters before you went diving. You also have no idea what people did to that food before they threw it out.

I do predict that the Freegan movement has the potential to become more popular in New York City because it is just becoming too expensive live here. People are giving a huge of chunk of their salaries for rent alone so they are going to have to reduce their expenses. And of course being New Yorkers, people aren't going to let their quality of life suffer. So they will instead scavenge for the finer things.

If this movement hits critical mass, you are going to have mobs of people waiting eagerly for the dumpsters to fill up on moving out day at NYU. Sooner or later someone will either get injured dumpster diving or an altercation may break out amongst scavengers. The result is someone is going to get sued which will probably be the building owner.

And if that happens, then expect restaurants like Le Pain Quotidien, start seeing their rents getting jacked up in order to cover the cost of liability insurance because of the overwhelming number of freegans awaiting free food.

It is a possibility to see AlFresco dining suddenly going out of style because of freegans approaching diners and asking them if they are going to finish their their plate or bread baskets.

Landlords will probably to have to add more security around their waste disposal operations to insure that no one messes with their garbage. The supers will be especially on their guard because the last thing they want is someone to f**k with their garbage before it gets picked up. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to hear stories about freegans getting brained by supers.

Eventually someone is going to get fed up and start putting booby traps in their garbage bags or stick razor blades in the food they have thrown out. Of course, freegans will be armed with their own metal detectors which they have scavenged for.

Let's not forget the turf wars with the homeless.

I know I sound like a raving loon writing this. But just watch. See what happens. Eventually the honeymoon period will be over and more people will become more annoyed than amused at this movement and then someone in City Hall will pass a law.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The first of many: Predictions of the industry.

Did you see this onCurbed?

Before we get to today's query, let us say that we love real estate brokers. They facilitate our buying and selling, our laughter and tears. But apparently—and this is just a rumor going around—there are some bad seeds in the group. And one Curbed reader has had just about enough. He writes,

I recently had a very bad experience with a horrible brokerage firm in NYC. I'm feeling kind of vengeful (they fully deserve it) and I want to know what I can do. Is there some sort of "watch list" that I can put them on, or some sort of community board that I can add them to so other people don't get screwed?

To the comments with your most civilized, responsible discourse, please

Douchebag brokers are nothing new but this Curbed question has touched upon something that I have been thinking about for quite sometime which is the next phase of the rental brokerage industry which is that brokerages that deal exclusively with rentals will begin to downsize.

Now I have heard no rumors, nor news nor chatter about my prediction. It is something that I have contemplated for quite awhile and looking at market conditions I think it is plausible.

Here are the facts.

Rental inventory is at a historic low.

There are plenty of clients out there but there are not enough decent apartments for everyone. Everyone is hustling to find a place and I will not surprised that people consider this the most horrible of rental seasons.

New York City is too f**king expensive.

To rent an apartment in the city requires a ton of money up front which amounts to a years tuition at medical school. Consumers are going to mine every connection, they are going to go to every party in the city and talk apartments, see who has a sublet, see who is going to be leaving the country. They are going to put on their Sunday best and portray themselves as the best roommate or best tenant. They are going to do everything they can to get that apartment at a lower cost. And if it means screwing the broker, so be it.

Rental Broker Rage
I am very aware that rental brokers work very hard for their money. For every deal they close, there were probably 10 deals that fell apart in their hands. It has become such a predatory business where even the most successful rental agent has to keep their guard up.

But how do you sell a product that does not exist? You can't. There are not enough quality apartments out there for all the brokers to survive on.

As far as I am concerned, the cost of running a rental brokerage is akin to running a restaurant. It is a high pressure game where you have to make deals while battling with expenses like rent, office supplies and internet access. Agents are not cheap, especially if they are not producing. I suspect that the major players are going to look at their numbers and see a huge disparity between their profits and expenses.

I will not be surprised if the rental giants of Manhattan proceed to cut away the fat and close the doors on their least profitable branches and begin to consolidate their best agents while tossing out the flotsam.

I realize this is a very harsh assessment but rental brokerage is not a charity.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Williamsburg is the new Park Slope

This weekend I was at a party in the Burg of Brooklyn. As far as I could tell, it was still the same place the last time I visited, just with more buildings being put up.

The nightlife is quite vibrant and is a stark contrast to what is going on in the meat packing district. However from my conversations it appears that there was more than meets the eye in Williamsburg

Over drinks I made the comment that besides the changes, it appeared that Williamsburg had maintained a certain consistency, one of my amigos told me that I was sorely mistaken. From what she had seen, there are more families now in Williamsburg which surprised me since I always that that was Park Slope. She pointed out to me that Park Slope had become waaay too expensive so alot of the families were moving down here much to the chagrin of the locals.

Apparently the invaders, I mean families have been reenacting Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru by doing as they please in their new haunts.

I heard one horror story where a local dive bar known for reeking of urine and pale, along with their fantastic Sunday brunch was turned into the Lord of the Flies of daycare when some parents indulged in coffee and eggs while letting their spawn run amok in the bar disrupting the rest of the customers. The person telling me the story cursed under her breath about these brats but assured me that she loved kids. As long as they were well behaved. Then we all shared stories about how we were raised and how our parents would never tolerate this type of behavior.

I also heard a story about strollers being used as battering rams, as mothers were overtaking sidewalks and not having the courtesy to stop and let people pass by. Instead they chose simply to run over anything in their path.

I was curious to see what one person's plans were when the indigenious became officially outnumbered by the Baby Einstein set.

"So what are you going to do when all the families overrun Williamsburg?"

"Nothing. I live in Greenpoint."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ali Rogers New Book


Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to announce Ali Rogers new book "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie"

Here's a press release from Ali.

Dear friends, clients, and other people whose e-mail I happen to have:

My new book launches today. It is the "Read" pick in Newsweek this week. Please buy it.

In order to explain to you why to buy it, I have compiled the following list of Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What's your book about?
A: It's about my adventures in my first year of real estate, which was also my first year of marriage. It's called "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie." It's also been called funny.

Q: Called "funny" — by you?
A: Actually, it got a starred review from Publishers' Weekly, which is kind of a big deal. They called my dedication to Rupert Murdoch "cheeky." Also, there's a movie star, a heroin scene, and some condos.

Q: That sounds intriguing. What do you want me to do?
A: Go to to buy the book. Also, please forward this e-mail to others. Finally, please use the following phrase as often as possible: "Hey, have you read 'Diary of a Real Estate Rookie' by Alison Rogers, available now at your finer local bookstores or on It's fast-paced and funny and has lots of real estate tips!"

Q: Alrighty then. Where am I supposed to do that?
A: Great places to use this phrase are: in Graydon Carter's office; while riding the Lexington Avenue Line; on; in Pop Culture Love Letters; within earshot of any Hollywood producer; on National Public Radio; near anyone who has ever met Oprah or Stephen Colbert . . .

Q: So this is the launch, did you forget to invite me to a party, you b*!ch?
A: No, in keeping with the speed of publication (Rookie was commissioned just last summer) there hasn't been time to set up a launch party. Keep your eyes open for a "Thank You" event later in the summer . . .and thank you!

Q: I'd go to a party. What else can I do?
A: Blog about the book (much gratitude to the editor of Fortune for kicking this off). Write about the book in a local or national publication (thank you to the editor of Money magazine for starting this one, please check out the August issue.) Leave the book on your desk or carry it on the subway (face out please). Come to the signing at McNally Robinson on July 23rd.

Q: Do I get a discount on a co-op if I do this?
A: We'll talk.

I absolutely adore Ali and I wish her the best with her new book. As she has demonstrated in her articles over at Inman news, she is a brilliant writer and an very talented real estate agent.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blogger Down

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog (, passed away early this morning. He was 41.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

We will post more information as it becomes available to us.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us. We will miss him terribly.

- the news blog team

I was introduced to Steve Gilliard's blog by a family member and I had been hooked since then. Steve was an well educated, articulate man and was armed with a very acerbic yet humorous wit. His news blog was a collection of perspectives ranging from the political, current, events, food and his own personal life. He often wrote about his nephews and nieces and it was quite touching how he doted on them.

People often labeled Steve as a liberal blogger but I do not think that title fit him because everyone was in his cross hairs. Liberal and conservative.In the world of straight shooters, Steve Gilliard was a Marine Corps Sniper.

I have to admit there were times when I disagreed with Steve's posts but he always backed up his arguments with a PhD level of evidence and a preacher's passion. Yet, he did not resort to the usual posturing that you see with a lot blogs that are simply shills for causes.

Steve was someone you could not bulls**t because not only was he sensitive to the malarkey of the world but he would not tolerate it in his presence. In fact, the moment he sensed it, he would hunt it down and dismantle it with the greatest of ease and with very colorful language.

Health problems have plagued Steve for quite awhile, in fact he has detailed his medical history on his blog. When he recently had to go back to the hospital, I figured he would return in a couple of weeks. That was not to be.

I would have loved to see Steve's take on the current real estate market, particularly how minorities are suffering through the sub prime mortgage mess, Iraq, Virginia Tech, Rosie O'Donnell, the View, the presidential race and I know he would have had a ball with how that douchebag infected with TB that was allowed to roam free and risk infecting others.

And I would have paid money to see Steve in a four way debate with Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Steve would have had them all in fetal positions with their thumbs in their mouths.

You'll see where I am coming from when you read his blog. I hope they never take it down.

My condolences to Steve's family, Jen and his friends. He will be missed.