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It sometimes seems like the New York Times does a piece about rising real estate prices hourly. The components are almost always the same: rising prices, high demand, tight availability. (The NYT tends to see these things as distinct from each other, rather than interconnected.)
Usually, they’ll pick a “typical” New Yorker — read: a friend of a friend of the reporter — as a peg on which to hook the piece.
Last week, true to form, the NYTimes breathlessly reported that the median price for an apartment in Manhattan is now roughly $1 million, and found your basic run-of-the-mill New Yorker to illustrate the problem. From the NYTimes:
With a budget of about $1 million, Patricia Marx began looking for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Manhattan last fall. She soon realized just how limited her options were.
“For a while, we were determined to acquire the large two-bedroom in the back of a building on Fifth Avenue,” said Ms. Marx, a staff writer at The New Yorker who is looking for a larger space with her boyfriend, Paul Roossin, a scientist and tech entrepreneur.
Just your typical New Yorkers. Just a staff writer at a national magazine and a tech entrepreneur who want to live on Fifth Avenue. You know, ‘mericans. Like you and me.
It gets more interesting:
Eventually, Ms. Marx went into contract on a two-bedroom, two-bath with a lovely view in the Sutton Place area that was listed for $995,000. “The apartment is a wreck,” she said, noting a crumbling bathroom, gaping holes covered with blue tarp and a vintage oven. With an impending renovation, she expects to pay at least $1.2 million in all. “I convinced myself I was dealing with play money,” said Ms. Marx, who recently listed her current home, a gracious one-bedroom corner unit on East 88th Street in Carnegie Hill for $975,000. “A million dollars to me still seems like an unfathomable amount of money.”
Got that? She’s selling her one-bedroom on East 88th for $975,000. She’s buying a two-bedroom on Sutton Place for $995,000. And the NYTimes thinks this is worth wasting newsprint over.
What stuck in my craw, of course, wasn’t the lateral — and eminently fair — transaction Ms. Marx and her tech entrepreneur boyfriend are engaged in. What bugged me was the shock she evinced at finding a rich real estate market while at the very same time benefitting from it.
She and her ilk are the equivalent of Daffy Duck, who pleads with Elmer Fudd to shoot Bugs Bunny instead of him, because, as Daffy puts it, “I’m different. Pain hurts me.”