It is awfully tough to write about current clients given the possibility that they might read it, but I do have these current buyer clients I refer to in my head as “buyers 90210.” The handle came about because of their relative youth (they’re recent college graduates who want to be roommates) and because one of them works for a record company. I don’t think these clients are naive Brandons by any means — they grew up in the city — but there is also a certain fresh-faced appeal about them that makes me want to mom them a little. I regard their desire for a cheap two-bedroom not as an impossibility, but as a challenge.
One possibility is to sell them a one-bedroom they could subdivide, but in the world of New-York-City-is-not-like-anywhere-else this has to be sold to a co-op board. It has crossed my mind to let a Greenwich Village board hypothesize its own relationship between two young male buyers, but it would be so much easier for everyone to sell them an actual two-bedroom. So I was thrilled when I found it.
They were not convinced; the area, one that’s been touted for years as up-and-coming, was on the fringes of where they wanted to be. But I fell in love with the floorplan, and I pushed it: foolish, foolish girl.
I went to an open house yesterday, determined to pick up more collateral material to help me sell the apartment. And the neighborhood was gross. It was near a school, (which I hate on the grounds that kids can be thugs without penalty) and as I crossed the playground area I caught three teenagers eyeing my engagement ring. If I feel menaced in the afternoon, I wondered, what’s it going to be like at night?
The apartment itself was perfect, and improved to within an inch of its life: dishwasher, washer/dryer, cute little balcony. And all that kept going through my head was “they can’t live here, they can’t live here.” I asked the listing agent about the neighborhood, and he said, well, when there’s a school, there’s extra police presence.
Great. That could just go on craigslist…”2-BR, 1-BA, extra police presence!!”
I headed off to another appointment, first walking half a mile to get to an Internet cafe and drop my buyers a note. It would be racist and classist to say “you can’t live here,” I thought. I remember that agents can’t say anything demographically useful, that my obligations were to the seller, that I almost hadn’t seen my first apartment in Manhattan on the grounds that the agent refused to show it to me.
And then I wrote a note telling the buyers I didn’t think it was a fit. I thought about using “edgy” or “block-by-block” but finally decided to call the neighborhood “too dingy.” (Remember, dear readers, this is coming from somebody who has walked through a Newark crack house.)
I wondered if they’d think I was a moron for not having known that about my inventory in the first place. But I just kept picturing walking their parents down the block. What, precisely, are my ethical obligations to the seller versus my obligations to the parents to keep their kids from getting mugged? Maybe, I thought, the buyers will appreciate the honesty.
So imagine how happy I was to see this in my in-box: “went down there at 6. Had the same feelings as you.”