Monday, November 03, 2008

Perhaps This Is A Trend?

Today I got an e-mail from one of my clients who had given me a listing about two weeks ago. His apartment, an amazing 820 square foot one bedroom in prime Murray Hill on 35th and Madison, had been on the market for sale with another broker for over six months. It had a doorman, a proper foyer and a sunken living room with a dining area. The open kitchen was modern with granite counters. He had finally gotten one low ball offer on the place and was willing to turn it down if he could find a solid person to rent the place for a year or so. I would have one week to find said person.

I took the listing and a few of my colleagues actually did take people over, one of which was considering renting it. When my client called me back, he said that he accepted the offer to sell apartment after all, and the buyers were putting money in escrow.

It was a shame. My client, we'll call him Mike, spent a few years working at J.P. Morgan, originating loans. Needless to say he was one of the first to go when all the sub-prime nonsense hit the fan a year ago. And so, for a year he putzed around his Art Deco gem of an apartment, the one with the original parquet floors and working fireplace, trying to find a job. On nice days he sat on the roofdeck and gazed at theEmpire State building, or the Chrysler building, depending on which way his chair was facing. Finally, he found a new job, but it was with a small bank in Chicago. A regional bank in the Midwest is a far cry from J.P. Morgan in Manhattan, but I guess ya gotta make a living.

I've started to wonder if there are others out there like Mike. Guys (and gals) who worked in these investment banks, collected the big checks, only to be left out in the cold once the layoffs came around.

When I first met Mike I could tell he didn't want to sell the place. He had only been there for two years! Guys like Mike are the real estate equivalent of the Girls Who Were Sent Away in the 1950s and 60s when they got pregnant. Guys like Mike bought trophy apartments with their bonuses, only to have to sell them for peanuts, quietly and discreetly, as they were forced out of town for another, less glamorous job.

Maybe it was a need for closure that made Mike accept the offer. Maybe he needed the dough. I wonder, though, how many other people from places like Bear Sterns and Lehman, will have to leave town and their real estate conquests behind, not to mention large parts of their egos.