Remember how just a few years ago the economy was terrible and the housing market went bust and all of our rents were suddenly really, really low? Well, maybe not that last part. I don’t think anyone could claim with a straight face that rents have been anything resembling “low” for the last…oh, fifteen years or so. But around about 2009, there certainly was a lot of attention paid to the fact that many of those huge glass condos built in Williamsburg were standing empty and unloved. What had once seemed like a surefire real estate bet became a huge disaster not only for builders, but also for the banks that financed the construction. Don’t cry too much for them though, because it looks like everything is going to turn out just fine. For the bankers and builders and realtors anyway. For renters and buyers? Not so much!
The New York Post reports that “demand is soaring at condo buildings that once unloaded apartments at fire-sale prices.” The Post compares what is happening in Brooklyn real estate sales right now to an ugly duckling story, explaining, “back in the bad old days, four years ago when the economy was tanking, a lot of new developments suffered. But some buildings had it worse than others, with preconstruction units languishing on the market, banks moving toward foreclosure, construction loans drying up and buyers deeming entire buildings damaged goods.” Now, however, with Brooklyn real-estate prices having fully rebounded, people are looking at places to live and can’t afford to be too picky about where it is they’re moving. So, everyone is just snapping up the ugly, awkwardly laid out condos and pretending that they’re beautiful in order to justify the obscene amounts of money these apartments cost. That does sound like something Hans Christian Andersen would have written, doesn’t it?
The best part of all this is the total acknowledgment from the Post and the realtors who are interviewed that the apartments are still pretty terrible, but because buyers are desperate, all the flaws are ignored. Michael Connolly, senior vice-president at Halstead Property, notes, “They’re only looking at everything in its own bubble. Things that people could have been critical of when they had more choice, they can’t afford to be critical of right now.” So, cool. Now that people don’t have any choice, realtors can feel free to gouge them. Awesome. But, really, it’s hard to blame the realtors. They’re just doing their jobs. The Post points out that this would never happen if people showed a little more thoughtfulness before making any home purchases. But, c’mon. That’s never going to happen. The article points out, “It helps that the buying public has no long-term memory.” Which is undeniably true. When taking advantage of people, it is always helpful when those people are willfully ignorant. Good luck out there.
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