Property Grunt

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Even the Dark Knight needs a place to live.

For the past several months I have been bonding over emails with a reader who I will call The Dark Knight. He has proven not only knowledgeable in certain matters of the real estate industry but has demonstrated a sharp and delightful wit. The Dark Knight also strongly empathizes with my issues regarding the hygiene of the cashiers at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. It is no surprise that I look forward to his emails.

Recently, The Dark Knight embarked on a mission to find a house in the suburbs of New Jersey. However the experience has left him, well as satisfied as watching a double feature of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films. Below is the email detailing his quest, which I have obviously edited to protect The Dark Knight’s identity.


It was a pleasant surprise to get your e-mail. So, my wife and I spent the better part of a year looking for houses in NJ (primarily in NAME WITHHELD.) and NAME WITHHELD (BUT TRUST ME. THE DARK KNIGHT IS LOOKING IN REALLY NICE AREAS). We were looking at properties listed at between $850,000 through $1.2 million. My target was to buy something in the $850,000 to $950,000 range. We must have looked at least 100 properties. After all of that, we decided to stay in the City one, maybe 2 more years.

Our reasons are many. However, one of our primary reasons is that, even though we were looking at properties listed in the million dollar range, most of them were shit. Complete and absolute shit. $900,000 houses that needed complete gut renovations (but, as the home owner of one such shit-house cheerily explained to me "it's on a cul-de-sac!"). The million dollar home with no closets in the master bed room. The absolutely gorgeous brand new six bedroom house--across the street from the Getty station. My wife, realizing that her expectations may be "unrealistic," kept muttering to herself "for a million dollars, it should be livable, no?" The feeling I got was that a number of the home owners still thought it was 2004. I had to explain to one home owner, who lamented to me he needed to sell his home for more than he owed on his mortgage, that neither I nor any rational buyer was not going to bail him out from his mistake. We put in one bid on a house in NAME WITHHELD, which sat empty for one year, only to be quickly out bid.

Our spirits crushed, our faith in humanity shaken (and my wife now in constant fear that we may have imported someone's bed bugs into our apartment) we decided to stay where we are. Or, maybe move to (NAME WITHHELD)--the kid will be going to (NAME WITHHELD)--in the Fall. Maybe next year sellers in NJ will get the message that the punch-bowl is empty.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

You hear that folks? It appears that it is not only suburban New York getting the smackdown but New Jersey is also getting hit pretty badly.

As for the Dark Knight, I have no doubt that with his precise mental acumen and strong sense of humor, he will find a great deal in his beloved New Jersey. Because there will be a point where someone will just say f**k it and cash it for whatever they can because they just can’t afford to stay for the turnaround.