Sunday, April 15, 2012

Topics: Too Much of a Good Thing

"More than 200 people showed up for an open house at a town house in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn last month," eh? Is this really news, New York Times? We don't think this is "buyer confidence" or "buyer exhuberance". This is supply and demand, yo. We already told you a condo (not to mention co-ops!) this expensive trades in Manhattan literally at an average of one a day. When interest rates are 4% and people have half a million or more downpayment, what's that got to do with the "broader economy" again? Man, we can't believe how many people are missing the mark here.

You know when you’re boarding an airplane and someone jumps you in line? And it’s not just annoying because cutting in line is annoying, but it’s supremely annoying because you’re going to the exact same place at the exact same time in the exact same vehicle? Then several hours after they’ve jumped you in line, there you both are at the same spot, waiting at the baggage carousel for your respective bags coming off the same flight? So what was their rush? Who did they think they were edging when they cut you in line?

Well, it’s a sad fact of human nature than we can be so self-centered and painfully myopic. And some among us behave as if their ‘ish don’t stink.

Much is the case when it comes to buyers looking for their dream home in highly-sought locales. We’ve heard tales of folks offering hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the multiple offers at asking price that the listing agents already have. Where’s the rationale there? Does someone actually think their money’s greener than someone else’s? Why would a seller with 2 million birds in the hand take 1.8 million birds in the bush instead?

As is the case with folks way richer than us being astonished and baffled by buyers with just as much money as they themselves have. Buyers with 6-figures who can't imagine other buyers have 7-figures is baffling enough, but buyers with 7-figures who can't imagine other buyers have that same dough?

As we’ve pointed out, great minds think alike. Which is why the best stuff gets gobbled up. You want a brownstone in Park Slope, well, get in line. And this time, it’s not on the same plane.

We’ve mentioned the definition of “gentrification” as “residential elitism” that we heard in Mexico City. What makes a neighborhood is often a matter of taste, and Park Slope has kind of eclipsed itself, if you ask us (Yeasayer tends to agreee). When a neighborhood starts developing, a certain type of commercial turnover begins when old leases run out and new ones begin. (See Bergen Bagel coming to Fulton Street in Clinton Hill) We were sad to see the lovable Taqueria on 7th Avenue in Park Slope go. Now ~there~ was a place worth having. And now it’s become a Nespresso-like brew bar instead, which serves boudgie coffee at prices that would make even Starbucks blush. That to us is a sign of the times. Park Slope does actually need yummy Mexican with a variety of options. Park Slope doesn’t need another place to overpay for coffee. Or does it? Ozzie’s is gone on 7th Avenue too. Wonder how high their rent must've spiked too…

And don’t get us started on schools. Nothing but the finest for these Park Slope youngsters, right? PS 321. The “Mecca” as expert Joyce Cheflita dubbed it. We don’t doubt she’s right. And yet many readers have told us that more money has been made on over-hyping PS 321 as the only school for your kids, than by any other angle in Brooklyn real estate. And how is PS 321 really? - you might ask. Well, it’s filled to the brim, and flowing into trailers in the school yard. 30+ students per class. Which can be trying as a school environment, no matter how exceptional the program or the teachers, no matter how precious the youngsters attending.

It reminds us of the "I drink your milkshake" scene in “There Will Be Blood”, where Daniel Day Lewis explains how he’s already sucked the oil below dry and doesn't need ol' boy's land. His milkshake analogy summarizes this phenomenon well. There’s a finite number of what everyone wants, so only some can have it.

Actually, did you know that even the magical constant temperature beneath the core of the earth, which allows for geothermal power, is a finite resource? Passive houses, like the one 96 St. Marks that was robbed from us via a faux all-cash offer, employ this technology. But it wouldn't work anymore if all houses tried it. Yes, even the seemingly-limitless magma inside the earth cannot stand constant if everyone stuck their straws in its milkshake.

Environmentalists estimate that if everyone in the world consumed at the rate of the average American, it would require the resources of over 5 Earths to accommodate them. But we don’t have 5 Earths, so the other 6+ billion folks who aren’t Americans are getting relatively short-changed on their capacity to consume. Not to get too hippie here, but the concept rings true. We can’t imagine how many Brooklyns it would take to give everyone who wanted one a Park Slope brownstone. And that’s the supply & demand dictating prices in that neighborhood. Ahhh, the free market. The great democratizer. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of a 4,000 sqft brownstone for less than anyone’s paid for one in the past 5 years.” Someone please double-check the document to see if that phrase was in the fine print. Because these Park Slope prices are downright unconstitutional!

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