Property Grunt

Monday, November 14, 2005

Indiana, Open Houses and the New York Times

Yeah this is a real bargain.
1 Square Inch of Land for Sale at $1,500

Dear Indiana,

No one cares.
As long as "Hoosiers" is in reruns and high school drama clubs keep doing productions of the Music Man your state will not fade into landlocked obscurity. So please stop with the media whore act. Your story is two years too late to get yourselves on the morning show circuit. It's not amusing. Just pitiful.

I've had another set of craptacular open houses. Even with the brand new spanking price reductions traffic was still on the critical path. Since the market has begun to experience erticle dysfunction sellers are starting to get more tense. I can't wait when oil prices start hitting the roof and co-ops begin to experience the assessment gang bang. I am really glad I am not a property manager because they are looking over their books to figure out how to squeeze as much money from their budgets as possible to cover costs.

On a lighter note there was a bumper crop of articles this weekend from the New York Times that really got my adrenaline pumping.

Teri Karush Rogers article on awkward broker moments brought back a lot of memories. As all of you know, I employ a technique of announcing myself when entering an apartment. The motivation of this technique came from certain experiences of mine. Below is one of them.

I was once with a mother who was looking for an apartment for her son and we were in a building looking for one particular apartment but the only information I was given was the floor and that the door of the apartment would be unlocked.

So we began to check the doors and I found one that was unlocked. Obviously this was the apartment, so I opened it up only to see a young woman in bed watching tv with the covers over her chest.

For a second our eyes locked. I realized this was the wrong place and began to apologize when she sat up, holding the covers and began to scream. I responded by quickly slamming the door. Of course this all happened in front of the mother.

One thing that still bothers me to this day what possessed that woman to leave her door unlocked?

Still, it's the close encounters of the dishabille kind that seem to leave the strongest impressions. Veronica Raehse, an executive vice president at Bellmarc Realty, recalled the alarmed, alarming and mostly bare houseguest who charged out of the shower swinging a toilet plunger over his head. ("No! I'm a real estate agent!" Ms. Raehse shouted.)

This reminds me of my shower story where I did everything right but was a hair away from a very embarassing situation. I was showing an apartment to a broker and her clients and followed standard operational procedure, which was to have the doorman alert the tenant who did not answer. I even rang the doorbell and announced myself. But as far as I could tell it was empty. It was only after entering the apartment for several minutes that we all heard the sound of rushing water. That was when we realized there was someone in the shower. I quickly ushered the broker and clients out without incident.

"Bad kitchens, bad bathrooms, horrible pictures of ugly families - all of that doesn't matter as long as the price is right. But what it can do is affect how many people want an apartment, whereas the perfectly staged apartment can make someone on the cusp really want it."

This is so true. It doesn’t take much of a rocket scientist to properly stage a home. Unless you want to pay a husky housewife to do it.

Do you all remember the Grunt’s entry about the two to three bedrooms market?

It appears I was onto something. According to Patrick Healy’s latest article More Buyers Are Thinking Small, there is an influx of buyers who are looking at studios and one bedrooms. If this trend continues that means that the apartments that are two bedrooms are more will be hanging out on the market far longer which is great news for those of you who are priced out of the two bedroom or more market. If the winter is brutal and oil prices beat owners senseless, I wouldn’t be surprised if you find more inventory in your price range in the aftermath.

Because they are cheaper to buy and maintain, small apartments also make natural second homes or pieds-à-terre for commuters or suburbanites tiptoeing into the city, according to Jonathan J. Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. And they are often easier to rent, and draw high rents relative to an owner's mortgage burden, making them more profitable investments for buyers looking for rental income.

The buyers buoying this wedge of the market are largely students and young professionals planting a foot in Manhattan, rather than families of four squeezing into a too-small home, brokers say. On the low end of the scale, they are singles looking for the cheapest studio available.

As long as young people want to come to Manhattan, are willing to deal with cramped space and people just need a place to crash, the studio apartment will always be popular. SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR PEOPLE? START MAKING OFFERS NOW!