Industry News

Today’s renter, tomorrow’s real estate treasure

Diary of a real estate flipper

I have no clients. OK, that's not true, I have one listing to sell, but I have no other clients. There are a number of ways to attack this problem, and I'm trying them all. What I spend some of my time doing is attempting a classic Manhattan strategy: to start with renters. Renters, the theory goes, grow up to be buyers. The best renters, of course, are budding doctors and lawyers; find a law student a rental today, and in three years, the theory goes, you harvest a million-dollar condo sale. The only problem with this theory is that it doesn't work. Oh sure, a happy renter may turn into a happy buyer, down the road, but it's close to impossible, in this market, to create a happy renter. It isn't for lack of product: three of every four households in Manhattan rent. The vacancy rate, however, is a swooningly low 4 percent. And the co-broking system, which works pretty well when you're selling and the commission pie is big, suddenly founders when there's only a tartlet to share. First,...