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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Breaking News: Orthos Make Tough Real Estate Customers

NY Magazine tells us something many of us already know: Orthodox Jews make tough real estate customers. It isn't news that observant Jews have some very specific criteria when it comes to looking for a home, as the piece notes, such as formal dining rooms (to facilitate Shabbat entertaining), large kitchens (the better to fit two sinks, dishwashers, and sets of dishes), low floors in apartment buildings (or, as the article notes, a Shabbat elevator) and close proximity to shuls, apartments with terraces large enough to build a Sukkah, etc. It's actually interesting to drive through Williamsburg these days, as it is very easy to spot the buildings built for and marketed to Hasidic Jews, just from the staggered terraces on the facades of the structures (In contrast with more typically architected NYC buildings, where the terraces are genrally stacked one atop the other, terraces to be used for Sukkahs need to be open to the sky).

It's also not news to anyone who has ever tried to buy into a burgeoning Orthodox community that proximity to Shuls is a major selling point, to make walking to Shul on Shabbat less of an ordeal - and that houses that are closer to a Shul can sometimes be considerably more expensive than homes with similar amenities that lie further from a shul. That becomes less of an issue as an Orthodox community grows, generally along with the number of shuls. In a popular community such as mine, if a shul isn't close by at the time of purchase, it's simply a matter of time until one crops up. Another criteria I often hear about from my house-hunting Orthodox friends is a guest room with its own bathroom (Shabbat guests like to have their privacy), a basement playroom (the better to banish all the children of the frequent Shabbat guests), and a separate bedroom in the basement (for the ever-popular live-in domestic help). I am also quite sure that a house with a greater number of smaller bedrooms will appeal to a young, growing Orthodox family more than a house with fewer, but larger bedrooms.

That's a good reason for the success in many Jewish areas of Orthodox real estate agents. What might seem a quirk to a nonobservant broker (as can be seen by the NY Mag piece), is more de rigueur to an Orthodox broker - who likely has many of the same requirements. One only needs do drive through the streets of my community to see "For Sale" signs with identifiably Jewish (and in many cases Orthodox) names as the listed brokers. I've even seen signs around lately for a real estate agency that goes by the name of "Gan Eden Realty".

I guess it's just easier for Young Turks (or Williamsburg Chasidim) trolling the real estate market to get the rundown on questions like "Where can I put the Seforim Shrank", or "Is there plumbing hookup in the basement for a Pesach kitchen" - from someone who actually knows what these terms mean.

33 Comments:

Blogger OrthoMomsBiggestFan said...

So true about the live-in help and basement - Young Turk here and that was absolutley key in our search. Now your back in the game, mom!

1:55 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

And all we want is a home that isn't completely falling apart that has a price tag that will allow us to believe we will actually be able to pay one tuition after purchasing.

Live in help? LOL. A Custom kitchen? LOL. A playroom? LOL. A guest room? LOL. A Pesach kitchen? LOL. Close to shul? That would be nice.

Glad to know others are raking in the bucks from somewhere so that they can be difficult customers.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

live-in help is not necessarily a luxury. i do not have live-in help now, but i did for awhile and it was not because I was a lazy, snobby person. Firstly, live-in help in far more economical than full time live-out help. Secondly, i work and my husband works very long hours and when my children were small and not yet in school I was not humanly able to be in more than one place at a time so I needed someone full time. So I don't think it's fair to putting babysitter's room in the same category as new kitchen and pesach kitchen and other thing like that is unfair. Trust me ...when I bought my house I needed a room for a babysitter, but you should see my kitchen...it leaves much to be desired.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 2:28, not sure why you took om's comment badly. Her point was an observation about her neighborhood. I definitely didnt get anything disparaging out of her post.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous MRN said...

Your link is incorrect... you put to http:// in it. But it is a very interesting article. What it doesn't mention is that the houses and apartments that are already Orthodox-suitable often go from community member to community member, bypassing the brokers. So in order to get into the real estate game, you have to buy something rejected by everyone else on the shul's mailing list first.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:53

I was responding to sephardilady. I had no problem at all with OM

8:47 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

The only reason I was LOL on live-in help is because it is basically more expensive for me to work than to stay home. Such is the life with small children in the home.

If a person decides to work a job with long hours and overtime (not my choice---I like accounting), live-in help may well be the better option. I'm sure if a client was ever interested, I could run the numbers. The convience factor, of course, would make the option preferable even if the cost was more.

So, the idea of buying a home with a small room for the nanny is not on our agenda.

Lots of people I know have a basement room for boarders. I'm not sure I want non-family members living in our home. But, if the price was right and we could get a home with a "rental unit" that was actually legal, I'd be more than happy to take it.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think that some of what we demand today is a measure of increasing affluence, not necessarily the requirements of Orthodoxy. Once upon a time, Jewish women managed in kitchens that didn't have two of everything. I look at some of the new kosher kitchens and think they're as much about showing off (both money and frumkeit) as they are about the requirements of Orthodoxy.

That said, I do agree about things like bedrooms. You can see the difference in things like spot-builds in Monsey versus mass market new builds. The latter will have 4, maybe 5, enormous bedrooms. The former will go for more rooms in the same space.

With the live-in help, I think you may have spent too much time in the 5T ;)

3:13 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

Good analysis and indeed if I were to buy an apartment I'd be happy to have a Heimishe earn a commission on my purchase.

walking to Shul on Shabbat
For many many men having a shul close by is considered a huge benefit even for weekdays, catching a Minchah- Maariv quickly, no parking problems etc...

9:27 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

What is a "Seforim Shrank"? (Or was that a joke?)

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Henry Frisch said...

Rebecca-
In places like Boro Park that is what some call a bookcase.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should do an article about orthos in the five towns, now those are the worst customers!! They go around your back and are forever looking for a deal and could care less about screwing over the brokers out of money. and on the sales end they all want to pay crap commisions when other neighborhoods outside the 5 towns get 5% and 6%.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Orthomom is writing about a small subset of potential Ortho Jews-not many can afford anywhere close to the lifestyle she is portraying. If that is required more and more will and are leavingOrthodoxy.
There is a population of extremely wealthy Ortho Jews in Lawrence-bu as a percentage of the US Jewish population it is small.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can afford the lifestyle here in Lawrence because we keep voting down the school budgets ... four years and counting!

8:21 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

We can afford the lifestyle here in Lawrence because we keep voting down the school budgets

That is a separate issue that many if not most people when given the chance vote for their economic self interest. In this case Ortho community inLawrence doesn't usePS so vote down budget. Does anyone doubt that they would vote down payments for welfare if independently voted on?

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 5:58 i am one of those orthos of the 5 times and when I was buying a home the seller Not ortho sold the house from out under me after i inspected the house and shook on it. ( the next morning for 10k more) the next house from not and ortho did the same but after i inspected the house she took it off the market only to selli t a year later for more money. now who is being difficult

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of course real estate brokers are the most "honest" people around. I am certain that every single house shown by every single broker in every Jewish neighborhood has "someone else" who is "very interested" !!!

5:07 PM  
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5:26 PM  
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5:42 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

And of course real estate brokers are the most "honest" people around. I am certain that every single house shown by every single broker in every Jewish neighborhood has "someone else" who is "very interested" !!!

Real Estate Agents as a group are probably the most dishonest people around-they lie to everyone -to the seller to get the listing-they exaggerate the price, they will get, to the buyer-they will talk about the other buyers and lie about bids-to the seller once they get a bid they want the sale to close to get their commission-and thus will then lie to the seller how good the bid is.
Don't use a broker!!
Sale by owner.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our real estate agent in NJ is a COnservative Jew, a macher across the Conservative shuls and organizations, and an honest and helpful person, with real estate and with other chesed needs.

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